First in new series of ARC Centre talks, Extension of closing date for AIP Prize nominations, Solar Cell Windows, and more physics in May

I hope you’re coping well with the current challenges and not getting magnets stuck up your nose (sorry Dr Daniel Reardon – keep on innovating!).  

It’s great to see the AIP community remaining hard at work, educating, and creating physics events.

A number of our events are already moving online, including the former Physics in the Pub, which is now Physics in the Cloud. Members are also invited to attend virtual talks put on by FLEET, the first one by our own Dr Kirrily Rule. More details below.

Yet more events are being rescheduled. I am happy to announce that the next AIP Congress will now be held from December 5 to 10, 2021, in Adelaide.

This bulletin includes the AIP’s statement on physics education post-COVID which aims to emphasise the importance of face-to-face teaching and learning once we all get ‘back to normal’. And we meet our Hidden Physicist for the month: Sarah Lugay, who is a cyber security expert for EY.

The nominations for the NSW Community Outreach to Physics Award have opened. See below for details.

In physics news, we are excited that windows will soon generate electricity, following a solar cell breakthrough by the ARC Centre of Excellence in Exciton Science. Read about it further on.

Plus the Australian Academy of Science and Australia’s other learned academies have launched a COVID-19 Expert Database. See below for details on how you can contribute.

Keep on washing those hands and stay connected.

Kind regards,

Jodie Bradby
President, Australian Institute of Physics

AIP News

First in new series of ARC Centre talks: neutron scattering 

You are invited to a live-streamed talk by Dr Kirrily Rule from the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) about neutron scattering analysis. Neutron scattering is a powerful tool for investigating the structure and dynamics of condensed matter systems. The magnetic spin of the neutron can interact directly with magnetic ions to reveal information about the properties of a material.

The event is presented by the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in Future Low-Energy Electronics Technologies (FLEET). This will be the first in a new, monthly series of live-streamed talks for the AIP from physics-themed ARC Centres of Excellence, with subjects ranging from condensed matter and quantum technology to astronomy.

Join us online 11am Thursday 7 May | zoom-link.

#PhysicsGotMeHere: Hidden Physicists – featuring Sarah Lugay

Employer: EY

Job and description: Senior Consultant (Cyber Security) – My team provides companies such as banks with guidance on how to secure their systems against cyber threats such as malware, hackers, human error and downtime. We assist companies in protecting the personal data that you hand over to them when you use their services. I’m not an ethical hacker like everyone thinks – I deal with security assessments, implementation of security policy and uplift of internal processes … which is just as much fun! Next time you are required to agree to a privacy policy or undertake a cyber awareness module for work, think of me! Although cyber security can get tech-centric, this role requires a lot of knowledge on frameworks and legislation as well.

To be a good consultant, you need solid soft skills. Getting a degree in physics taught me how to learn technical content and abstract concepts. I’ve had to learn IT from scratch after graduation. Most of all, a physics degree taught me how to communicate technical content to a non-technical audience, which is what being a consultant is all about. If you can explain the Heisenberg uncertainty principle to your grandmother, you can explain how the Internet works to your colleague in Accounting.

Lastly, cyber security and quantum computing are at the point of intersection. We’re going to need physicists as cyber security experts very soon, especially in the realm of cryptography.

My career story so far:

  • Bachelor of Advanced Science (Hons) majoring in physics at UNSW
  • Graduate in the 2017 Optus Graduate Program – IT stream
  • Security Consultant for Aleron, a small cyber security consultancy
  • Senior Consultant for EY, after the acquisition of Aleron by EY

Please email if you’d like to nominate a ‘hidden’ physicist for us to profile.

Position statement on online teaching delivery during and after COVID-19

Thank you to the many members who provided responses and comments to our call last month for feedback on a draft statement. The revised and final position statement “Temporary replacement of face-to-face classes by online delivery in physics courses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic” is now available in full here.

To summarise:
The Australian Institute of Physics (AIP) recognises the challenges posed by the COVID19 pandemic for tertiary and secondary education. The AIP applauds the academics and teachers, and their universities and schools, for their success in maintaining teaching and learning through online delivery during this crisis. However, the AIP’s position is that the adoption of a fully online delivery mode should be a short-term emergency response, and should not become a ‘new normal’. The AIP contends that the high quality and high standing of physics education in Australia stems from large face-to-face and hands-on curriculum components, from high levels of student-student and student-teacher interactions, and from invigilated examinations. The AIP encourages a public discourse on the nature of physics education post-COVID19. This discourse should consider opportunities for positive change and the long-term adoption of innovative technologies and teaching methods; yet, it should occur with an appreciation of the success that face-to-face and hands-on physics education has had in producing high quality science graduates.

We hope that this statement will contribute to discussions between the physics community, physics departments, universities and schools, policy makers and the public about the long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on physics and science education. Please feel free to distribute it among your networks.

The next edition of Australian Physicist, out very soon, will feature a further discussion of this topic. It will invite letters to the editor in response, which will provide a mechanism for the many voices, opinions and interests in our community to be expressed publicly.

(Contributed by Gerd Schroeder-Turk and Deborah Kane.)

Extension of closing date for AIP Prize nominations

The closing date for nominations for the AIP Awards has been extended.

Nominations for the Boas, Massey, Walsh, Education, Payne-Scott and Outstanding Service to Physics awards close on 1 June, 2020.

Nominations for the Bragg and Laby awards close on 1 July, 2020.

AIP Awards and Prizes

Physicists come from diverse cultures, backgrounds, ethnicities and experiences. It is the AIP’s goal to identify and nurture the future leaders of the organisation and ensure they are celebrated.

One of the ways it does this is through its medals – awards which recognise individual outstanding contributions to physics as a discipline. They comprise:

The Harrie Massey Medal, a bi-annual award that recognises contributions made by an Australian physicist working anywhere in the world, or a physicist carrying out work in Australia.

The Alan Walsh Medal, an award which is a contribution by the NSW Branch of the AIP and recognises significant contributions by a practicing physicist in Australia.

The Education Medal. An initiative of the 2000 AIP Congress in Adelaide, this medal recognises an outstanding contribution to university physics in Australia.

The Ruby Payne-Scott Medal recognises outstanding contributions made by a physicist (theoretical, experimental, computational, or technical) who is just beginning a career, and to help promote the careers of exceptionally promising young physicists.

The Bragg Gold Medal, an initiative of the SA branch in 1992, recognises the work of a PhD student which is judged to be of outstanding quality. The recipient must be under the auspices of an Australian university.

The Walter Boas Medal recognises and promotes excellence in physics research in Australia within the past five years.

The TH Laby Medal recognises an outstanding body of work completed by an honours or masters student in Australia.

The Outstanding Service to Physics recognises an exceptional contribution on the part of an individual to the furtherance of physics as a discipline.

More details can be found at

Postponement of AIP 2020 Congress

The postponed AIP 2020 congress will now be held in Adelaide, between December 5 and 10, 2021. Thanks to the team involved in moving the event.

Postponement of ICPS 2020 Conference

In light of the advice from the World Health Organisation and the Australian Federal Government, the 2020 International Conference on the Physics of Semiconductors (ICPS) has been postponed.  

The conference will now run at the same venue, the International Convention Centre Sydney, from Sunday 26 June to Friday 1 July, 2022.

AIP wants to hear from you on social media

We are keen to amplify Australian physics on social media.

Please tag us when you have an exciting new research result, a cool outreach event, or even have articles published in other forums, such as The Conversation.

Let us know on Twitter and LinkedIn and we’ll share it to our followers.

If you aren’t already, subscribe to us on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram.

2020 NSW Australian Institute of Physics in the Cloud

Nominations are now open for physics enthusiasts to express interest in presenting a five-minute Zoom-based entertaining presentation at the 2020 NSW Australian Institute of Physics in the Cloud – an online version of Physics in the Pub with an added quiz component. Presentations can be demonstrations, comedy skits – anything, really!

Expressions of interest close on Friday May 29.

The event is proudly supported by Laboratories Credit Union and will be held on Friday August 21 from 6pm.

Further details will be available after the nominations close.

A outlining the title, description and presentation format should be emailed to Dr Frederick Osman, The nomination form can be found here:

2020 NSW Community Outreach to Physics Award

The AIP in New South Wales has instituted this annual award as a means to recognise the work of individuals for community outreach. It seeks to acknowledge someone with a notable record of work in contributing to physics education, and whas demonstrated passion for the study of physics in the state.

The award is open to everyone in NSW and will consist of $1000, and a certificate citing the achievements. It is proudly supported by Laboratories Credit Union

Nominations will close on Friday, 9 October.

A statement of up to 500 words outlining the work for which the nominee seeks recognition should be lodged with the nomination form, which can be found here:

Please submit by mail or email to:

Dr Frederick Osman, PO Box 649, Moorebank, NSW 1875;

The prize will be presented at the AIP NSW Postgraduate Awards event on Tuesday 10 November at the University of Technology Sydney – or virtually if COVID-19 restrictions are still in place.

Other physics news and opportunities

COVID-19 Expert Database launched

On Friday, 3 Aprilthe Australian Academy of Science and Australia’s other learned academies launched the COVID-19 Expert Database.

The database has been created to provide a mechanism for governments, businesses, the research sector, and other decision-makers to easily access the expertise they need to inform their actions. The Academies encourage you to register your expertise if it can contribute to the national and global effort to tackle and recover from COVID-19.

Please share this database with your contacts and colleagues, because expertise in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, health, humanities, arts, and social science is needed.

 For more information please see the Academy’s media release.

Hungry galaxies grow fat on the flesh of their neighbours

Galaxies grow large by eating their smaller neighbours, new research reveals.

Exactly how massive galaxies attain their size is poorly understood, not least because they swell over billions of years. But now a combination of observation and modelling from researchers led by Dr Anshu Gupta from Australia’s ARC Centre of Excellence for All Sky Astrophysics in 3 Dimensions (ASTRO 3D) has provided a vital clue.

In a paper published in The Astrophysical Journal, the scientists combine data from an Australian project called the Multi-Object Spectroscopic Emission Line (MOSEL) survey with a cosmological modelling program running on some of the world’s largest supercomputers in order to glimpse the forces that create these ancient galactic monsters.

By analysing how gases within galaxies move, Dr Gupta said, it is possible to discover the proportion of stars made internally – and the proportion effectively cannibalised from elsewhere.

Read the full release here:

Windows can soon generate electricity, following solar cell breakthrough

Semi-transparent solar cells that can be incorporated into window glass are a “game-changer” that could transform architecture, urban planning and electricity generation, Australian scientists say in a paper in Nano Energy.

The researchers – led by Professor Jacek Jasieniak from the ARC Centre of Excellence in Exciton Science (Exciton Science) and Monash University – have succeeded in producing next-gen perovskite solar cells that generate electricity while allowing light to pass through. They are now investigating how the new technology could be built into commercial products with Viridian Glass, Australia’s largest glass manufacturer.

This technology will transform windows into active power generators, potentially revolutionising building design. Two square metres of solar window, the researchers say, will generate about as much electricity as a standard rooftop solar panel.

Read the full release here:

Jobs Corner – physics employment opportunities

The AIP is happy to provide a free link to your physics-related job or PhD opportunity. Please send them to If you would like to feature more details and a picture, please email Kirrily Rule for more information and pricing. 

Postdoctoral Research Associate – Physics (UNSW, Sydney)

Senior Development Scientist (Kelly Scientific, Sydney)

Science and Technology Team Lead (Department of Defence, Sydney)

Postdoctoral Fellow (UNSW, Sydney)

Medical Physics Specialist – Diagnostic Radiology (Prince of Wales Hospital, Sydney)

Accelerator Physicist / Earth Scientist (ANSTO, Sydney)

Research Associate – Condensed Matter Physics (UNSW, Sydney)

Mathematician/Proof Reader (Haese Mathematics, Adelaide)

Instrument Validation Specialist (Melbourne)

Laboratory Technician (Kelly Scientific, Melbourne)

Data Scientist (Equifax, Melbourne)

Research Scientist (CFA, Melbourne)

Senior Research Scientist (CFA, Melbourne)

QUT and ARC ITTC for M3D Innovation PhD Scholarships (Brisbane)

Research Fellow – Nonequilibrium Molecular Dynamics Simulation (UQ, Brisbane)

Postdoctoral Research Fellow (UQ, Brisbane)

Optical Engineer/ Laser Physicist (Canberra)

Laser Designer Physicist / Senior Laser Designer Physicists (EOS, Canberra)

Research Associate – John de Laeter Centre (JdLC) – ALA (Curtin University, Perth)

Climate Adaptation and Extremes Scientist (CSIRO, Hobart)

Chief Aerospace and Maritime Divisions (Two positions) (Department of Defence)

Physics teacher (one of many positions)

2021 Graduate Development Program (ANSTO)


Aussie physics in the news

Next-gen solar cells perform better when there’s a camera around

Aussie barista helps scientists to brew the perfect espresso

Robert May, former UK chief scientist and chaos theory pioneer, dies aged 84

Light from stretchable sheets of atoms for quantum technologies

Hydrogen-boron fusion could be a dream come true

Applying quantum-impurity theory to quantum fluids of light

Stephen Wolfram has a plan to develop a new physics of our universe

New findings suggest laws of nature not as constant as previously thought