The Fellowship of the AIP; pressing fire on lasers; and physics is everywhere in July

The Australian Institute of Physics is dedicated to promoting the role of physics in research, education, industry and the community.

We do this through advocacy, encouraging investment in physics, organising research meetings and conferences, supporting physics teachers, recognising distinguished contributions to physics, and more.

But, as a member-based organisation, we know our members are the key to our success, and we constantly strive to ensure we are providing the best possible benefits for AIP members.

This month we give you the chance to have your say on the future direction of the AIP and help us to make your membership more worthwhile. Take the survey now or read on for more.

It also gives me great pleasure in this edition to highlight the work of our two most recently elevated Fellows of the AIP.

  • Dr Maria Parappilly, from Flinders University and the current head of our Physics Education Group, has done fantastic work raising awareness about the importance of having women and good role models in physics, and the importance of education.
  • Professor Chris McConville is Deputy Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovation in the College of Science, Engineering and Health at RMIT University and is a widely respected researcher into novel semiconducting materials.

I am also very proud of two Australian physicists who were honoured with the Queen’s Birthday 2018 Honours list: Professor Halina Rubinsztein-Dunlop AO from the University of Queensland and Professor Jai Singh AM from Charles Darwin University. Halina received the honour for her work in laser physics and nano-optics as a researcher, mentor and academic – she was also one of the organisers of the last AIP Congress. Jai received the award for his work in physics education, as an academic and researcher to professional scientific organisations. Congratulations Halina and Jai.

Read on for more about the recipients of these awards, and for events around the country where you can hear from some of our best physicists, as well as those visiting from overseas.

Finally, I’d like to urge all AIP members to submit an abstract for the AIP Congress in December. The line-up for the Congress is looking great, so make sure you get your name on the list of speakers – the deadlines for abstract submissions is 15 July.

Kind regards,

Andrew Peele
President, Australian Institute of Physics

AIP News

Have your say

Would you like to hear more about something in the AIP bulletin? Do you feel like you’re getting bang for your buck for your membership? Or would you like to hear from the AIP Executive Committee more about what we’re up to?

We’d love to hear your thoughts in our July survey. The survey will take less than two minutes and consists of two questions (click below to take the survey).

Take this chance to have your say on the future direction of the Australian Institute of Physics, and help us to make your membership more worthwhile. We’ll be releasing the results soon.

Screenshot of survey for July bulletin

The Fellowship of the AIP – welcome to our newest FellowsMaria Parappilly

Dr Maria Parappilly from Flinders University is a leader in physics education and has been recognised both locally and internationally for her work. Maria is a leader, role model and educator. She is known for her pioneering teaching methods and research in physics, and last year received the D2L award in Canada that recognises five post-secondary educators for their work promoting student-centred teaching and learning.

Many of Maria’s innovative teaching and research methods have been adopted far wider than her classroom. Read more at:

Professor Chris McConville from RMIT University is Deputy Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovation in the College of Science, Engineering and Health. He has a long history of highly-regarded publications and has delivered more than 60 talks at national and international conferences. Chris’ research interests are in novel semiconducting materials that use a range of experimental techniques. These techniques provide information about the physical and electronic structures of different surfaces and interfaces, and how they compare to other materials.

The Fellowship of the AIP recognises significant and acknowledged contributions to the field of physics. Contributions will normally include at least 10 years professional experience in:

  • Research or teaching
  • Applications of physics in industry
  • Leadership in industry or government

The AIP Fellowship consists of around 200 living fellows that represent Australia’s top physicists.

Find out more information about how to apply for an AIP fellowship:

The Quantum Computing Revolution: AIP NSW Einstein Lecture with Michelle Simmons

A woman who needs no introduction, esteemed quantum physicist Michelle Simmons will be giving this year’s NSW AIP Einstein Lecture on The Quantum Computing Revolution at the fabulous UNSW flagship venue— Leighton Hall on 14 August.Michelle Simmons

Michelle will talk about her latest endeavour: to build a quantum computer that can solve problems in minutes, compared to what would have normally taken thousands of years. A computer that will dramatically speed up the pace at which problems can be solved, which if successful, could help technologies become even more efficient on a global scale.

2018 marks the 13th annual Einstein Lecture, which is designed to explore the current output from Einstein’s original work. The event will be held in partnership with UNSW on 14 August 2018. The event is free, but bookings are essential as spots are limited.

Get your tickets here:

Last chance to get your abstract in for 2018 AIP Congress in Perth – closing July 15

The 23rd Australian Institute of Physics Congress is happening in Perth from 9-13 December.

This year’s Physics Congress will be here before we know it, and this year it will be in sunny Perth in December.

Fantastic keynote speakers coming from the UK, USA, Austria and China include:

  • Nobel Laureate Professor Rainer Weiss, sharing the latest on gravitational wave detection
  • Professor Chandralekha Singh, speaking about the strength of inclusivity in the physics community
  • Professor Julia Yeomans, on active systems – the systems that rely on other processes to provide their own energy.

Will you join them?

Abstract submission for talks and posters must be submitted before midnight 15 July 2018: so get yours in today to join this stellar line-up:

Australia’s industries, we welcome your presence at the Congress and look forward to your suggestions as to how to make the Congress most relevant to you!
university of wa
Australia’s science teachers, we want to include you as part of the Congress and look forward to your involvement.

All university academics, government and industry scientists, to all science students and to our international colleagues, please help us make this a big success by submitting your best work to this conference.

Register for the AIP Congress:

Sponsorship and Exhibition:

Other Physics News & Opportunities

Prominent physicists honoured in Queen’s Birthday Honour Roll

Professor Halina Rubinsztein-Dunlop from the University of Queensland and Professor Jai Singh from Charles Darwin University have both been awarded Queen’s Birthday Honours.

Halina Rubinsztein-Dunlop is the former Head of the UQ School of Mathematics and Physics. She was made an Officer in the halinaGeneral Division (AO) of the Order of Australia ‘For distinguished service to laser physics and nano-optics as a researcher, mentor and academic, to the promotion of educational programs, and to women in science.’ She is an internationally recognised expert in optics, laser spectroscopy, laser micromanipulation, and atom cooling and trapping.

Read the University of Queensland’s article here:’s-birthday-honours

Jai Singh is Physics professor at Charles Jai SinghDarwin University and researches solar cells, both inorganic and organic. He was appointed Member in the General Division (AM) of the Order of Australia ‘for significant service to education, particularly in the field of physics, as an academic and researcher, and to professional scientific organisations’.

More at:

A new chapter begins for Australian optical astronomy

Australia is building on its world-class technical and scientific capabilities in astronomy and astrophysics with the Australian Astronomical Observatory (AAO) moving into the domestic research sector.

As of 1 July 2018 the scientific functions, relevant assets and existing commitments of the AAO have been transferred to two new consortia of Australian universities.

Macquarie University has taken on the AAO’s research and optical instrumentation capability, in partnership with the Australian National University (ANU), the University of Sydney and Astronomy Australia Limited. The partnership has been established as a new national optical instrumentation capability to be known as Australian Astronomical Optics, carrying forward the internationally recognised AAO brand.

“The consortium will build new optical astronomy instruments for the world’s largest telescopes, create new opportunities for Australian industry, and enhance career pathways for young scientists and engineers,” says Professor Michael Steel, interim director of AAO-Macquarie, and head of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Macquarie.

“By combining the distinct capabilities and expertise of the three largest optical instrumentation groups in the country, Australian Astronomical Optics will present a unified and compelling case for securing major international contracts from the leading astronomical observatories in the world,” he says.

Under an additional arrangement the ANU has taken over the operation of the 3.9-metre diameter Anglo-Australian Telescope (AAT) at Siding Spring Observatory, near Coonabarabran, NSW. A consortium of 13 Australian universities will fund the new operation, which will extend the operating life of the AAT until at least 2024-25.

Minister for Jobs and Innovation Senator Michaelia Cash acknowledged Macquarie University, ANU and the University of Sydney and their “impressive track records in science and commercialisation”.

“I look forward to seeing what new discoveries the astronomy community can make under the new arrangements,” Minister Cash said.

Read the Ministerial media release here:

Pressing FIRE on the most powerful laser in the world—Vicphysics Teachers’ Network Girls in Physics Breakfast

The Girls in Physics Breakfast is back for their final breakfast for the year, at Monash University’s Clayton campus on Tuesday 21 August. 

This is a perfect event for girls in Year 10–12, as they will be on a table with young women in the early stages of their science or engineering careers.

A student from last year said, ‘I was talking to a guest at my table and her career sounded so amazing. Then I realised that in 8 years that could be me. I got so excited.’

Dr Ceri Brenner, the 2018 AIP Women in Physics lecturer, will be the guest speaker at the breakfast, speaking about ‘Pressing FIRE on the most powerful laser in the world’.

In our June bulletin we featured Ceri and she emphasised the importance of effective public outreach, mainly due to her own experiences as a student.

Students will also be able to explore the different types of STEM careers that might suit them, and go on a 90 minute tour of the Australian Synchrotron as a free additional add-on (you need to book online).

The expanded Girls in Physics Breakfast program in 2018 comprised of six breakfasts and was funded by the Federal Government.

The cost per student is $15 with teachers free.

Bookings will be through Trybooking and will open on 16 July. For more information about the breakfast, head to

If you work in Australia space research, this conference is for you

The 18th Australian Space Research Conference (ASRC), will be held in the Gold Coast, Queensland, over September 24–26 2018. 

Gold CoastJoin the Director of Australia’s Space Agency Dr Megan Clark, Dr Mark Cheung, who will speak about the physics behind the solar drivers of weather in space, Dr Katarina Miljkovic on the spacecraft that can measure seismic activity on Mars (or marsquakes) and Professor Stuart Phinn on measuring and monitoring environmental changes using satellite data.

The ASRC is intended to be the primary annual meeting for Australia space research, and it welcomes space scientists, engineers, educators and workers from across the university, industry and government space sectors. The conference is not limited to Australian-based research, and international participants are also most welcome.

The scope of the conference includes fundamental and applied research, operational matters, technology and use of space data and facilities.

Abstracts are open now, until mid-July, and early-bird registration is open now until 1 September 2018. For more information about the conference, head to

It’s like the Olympics, but for physics—call for AIP members to contribute question ideas for the world’s toughest physics competition

Adelaide will host the Asian Physics Olympiad (APho) in 2019 and Australia’s physics community are encouraged to contribute question ideas for challenging theory and experimental exams. Questions profiling Australian physics research are encouraged. Learn more at or follow them on social media for the latest updates: FacebookTwitterInstagram & YouTube.

The APhO Academic Committee is also seeking expressions of interest in assisting with the academic side of the Asian Physics Olympiad to be held in Adelaide in 2019.

There will be various roles available with more information coming later in 2018, such as question testing, experimental setup and marking during the event. Volunteers would need to be able to be present in Adelaide during or in the lead up to the event from 5 – 13 May, 2019.

Please email to register your interest in being involved and to receive further information later this year.

And congratulations to the Australian team selected to represent Australia at the 2018 International Physics Olympiad in Lisbon, Portugal from 21 to 29 July. 

  • Stephen Catsamas, Year 11, Marcellin College, VIC
  • Boris Deletic, Year 12, John Monash Science School, VIC
  • Alicia Lieng, Year 12, Meriden, NSW
  • Hugo McCahon-Boersma, Year 12, Sydney Grammar School, NSW
  • Vladimir Mikho, Year 12, John Monash Science School, VIC

The youngest competitor on the International Physics Olympiad team this year, 16-year-old Alicia Lieng from Sydney’s Meriden school said, “I am passionate about physics and forever grateful to my science teacher for encouraging me to sit the Australian Science Olympiad exams because it has opened up for me so many fantastic opportunities.”

Read the media release at:

Physicist or diver? Why not do both.

Maddison Keeney is a graduate of 2017 Bachelor of Science with a dual major in Computational Science and Physics from the University of Queensland.maddison

She is a bronze Olympic medallist, a world champion, and won silver at the Commonwealth Games (pictured left of image).

Congratulations, Maddison!

Physics is everywhere! The John Mainstone Youth Lecture Tour 2018, Queensland

‘How do I teleport myself to school?’, ‘What do I do when I find myself inside a black hole?’

Dr Sean Powell will answer these questions and more during the 2018 John Mainstone Youth Lecture Tour – coming to Bundamba, Sunshine Coast, Brisbane, Toowoomba, Townsville, Cairns, and Mt Isa.

Sean is a lecturer at the Queensland University of Technology, and his talk Physics is everywhere! is a journey from tiny sub-atomic particles, all the way through to the large-scale structure of the Universe. If you’re looking for a lecture tour that promotes physics to senior high school students and science teachers, the John Mainstone Youth Lecture Tour is for you.

Dr Jacqui Romero will deliver an additional regional lecture in Mount Isa about Slower light in free space.She is a quantum physicist that looks at ‘differently shaped’ photons that have different properties. This may lead to encoding and transmitting data more securely.

These lectures are perfect for senior physics students, and if you’re based in a regional area, there are four simple things you can do to help out:

  1. Organise your own institution’s support and involvement.
  2. Enter this event into your school’s calendar.
  3. Circulate this flyer to advertise the event to schools in your local area and to give your students inspiration and ideas in the lead up to the lecture tour.
  4. Keep the AIP Organisers abreast of the organisation, the level of interest and the expected numbers.

More information here:

Aussie Physics in the News

World’s groundwater stores falls under the deep insight of an Australian physicist’s space mission

How the Gorgon gas plant could wipe out a year’s worth of Australia’s solar emissions savings

Australian scientists just set a quantum computing world record

Adelaide’s massive medical win – named host of the World Congress on Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering 2024

Flexible nanotubes pack a punch

Quantum leap in computer simulation

Australian university reaches for the stars after HPC boost

The musical instruments revolution: Quantum drum that can vibrate and be still, simultaneously

The big global space agencies rely on Australia – let’s turn that to our advantage

Australian university successfully launches camera into space

Australia finally has a space agency – here’s why it’s about time

Lift-off for the Australian Space Agency

Books for review

If you are interested in reviewing this book for publication in Australian Physics, please contact theAustralian Physics editors Peter Kappen and David Hoxley at

  • Diffusive Spreading in Nature, Technology and Society by Armin Bunde, Jurgen Caro, Jorg Karger, Gero Vogl
  • Lectures on General Relativity, Cosmology and Quantum Black Holes by Badis Ydri
  • The Quantum Labryrinth—How Richard Feynman and John Wheeler Revolutionized Time and Relativity by Paul Halpern
  • Gravity, Magnetic and Electromagnetic Gradiometry by Alexey V Veryaskin (ebook)
  • Thermal Properties of Matter by Joe Khachan (ebook)
  • Semiconductor Integrated Optics for Switching Light by Charlie ironside (ebook)
  • The Black Book of Quantum Chromodynamics by John Campbell, Joey Huston, and Frank Krauss (printed copy)