Post image for Boas Medal, women in physics and video comps: physics in August

Posted on behalf of Rob Robinson, President of the Australian Institute of Physics.

Congratulations to Chennupati Jagadish, whose work on semiconductor optoelectronics and nanotechnology has earned him the 2013 Walter Boas Medal. Jagadish will receive his award and deliver a lecture at a meeting of our Victorian branch later this year, and I look forward to hearing more about his research.

Gravitational waves will star in this year’s Women in Physics lecturers, to be delivered by Professor Sheila Rowan from the University of Glasgow. She’s known for being an excellent communicator, and we’ll bring you details of her national tour, with talks for schools and the public in October and November.

We’re also sponsoring delegates to the International Women in Physics Conference, with Australia’s team to be led by Cathy Foley (CSIRO), along with Helen Maynard-Casely (ANSTO) and Margaret Wegener (University of Queensland). The conference runs from 5 to 8 August in Waterloo, Canada, and is put on by the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics. We’ll get to hear all about it at our own Congress in Canberra in December.

As for me, I’ve just returned from a trip to England and Japan, which wasn’t all business but did give me the chance to visit research institutes in both countries. And I got to meet our counterparts in the UK Institute of Physics, including their President Frances Saunders, who will also attend our Congress.

The Congress itself is shaping up to be a great event. As well as an array of distinguished speakers, the theme ‘The Art of Physics’ will be realised with an exhibition of works on the subject of Velocity. There will also be a tour of the historic Mt Stromlo Observatory, and cosmologist Lawrence Krauss will deliver the closing night’s public lecture.

We had so many Queen’s Birthday Honours to list in our last bulletin that inevitably we left someone out. Hearty and belated congratulations go to medical physicist and AIP member Tomas Kron, from the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, who received a Medal of the Order of Australia for service to medicine and to research and education.

Sadly missed will be Professor George Dracoulis of the Australian National University, who died on 19 June 2014. George achieved international acclaim and was elected to the Australian Academy of Science for his significant contributions to the spectroscopy of very neutron-deficient nuclei and to the understanding of unusual nuclear states, particularly through the elucidation of the interplay between single-particle and collective degrees of freedom. Read the full article →


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Posted on behalf of Nadia Rosenthal, Scientific Head, EMBL Australia

Earlier this month I spent time with 60 talented students at our annual EMBL Australia PhD course in Canberra. For me, this course is the highlight of the whole EMBL enterprise. It’s a celebration of enthusiasm, discovery and excitement for the life sciences, and a great way for young scientists to connect with new knowledge and each other. Congratulations to the students and the organisers, and I look forward to keeping in touch with you all in the future.

Not only are we investing in our future science leaders, but also in our science infrastructure. I’m delighted to announce the call for expressions of interest to host our life sciences data resource – the Bioinformatics Resource Australia-EMBL (BRAEMBL). It is a proposed national infrastructure that will strengthen Australia’s exploitation of a global biomolecular data network, and help to keep us integrated and competitive in bioinformatics research, services and training.

I’ve also just returned from Europe, where I was introduced to the UK’s Academy of Medical Sciences. The motto of the Academy is “improving health through research”, which is a central goal of EMBL Australia. I am enormously proud to be included in this year’s newly inducted Fellows, including my friend and colleague Professor Dame Janet Thornton, Director of EMBL’s European Bioinformatics Institute. Janet will also be helping us shape BRAEMBL in the future.

Back in Australia, we recently helped SAHMRI (the new South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute) officially launch the science inside that creativity-inspiring building. The speed at which the institute has begun to develop inside their new home is a testament to the organisational skills and inspirational direction of its leadership. And we’re immensely proud that our EMBL Australia South Australian node is a part of the SAHMRI journey. Read the full article →


A mixed bag of things this week.

Clunies Ross nominations are open to 29 August for superstars of applied science and technology.

Research Australia’s annual philanthropy conference kicks off in Melbourne on 19 August. Hot topics will include: the fundraising impact of debate on the medical research trust fund; how Cancer UK raised $830 million in a year.

Tomorrow in Melbourne you can meet the Science Editor of The Economist at an informal lunch I’m hosting at the University of Melbourne. Geoff Carr is here for AIDS2014 and has time on his last day in town to chat about science and The Economist.

You can also meet leaders of AIDS2014 at a public forum at the Melbourne Town Hall tomorrow. The panel is Nobel Laureate Francoise Barre-Sinoussi, Salim Karim, Sharon Lewin, Matt Sharp and Leslie Cannold. More at the venue’s website.

A woman in the USA recently had a growth of mucus-producing nasal cells removed from her spine – the result of failed stem cell therapy. It’s a reality-check on where we’re at with stem cell science, but also feeds our imagination about its possibilities. Two stem cell pioneers will be speaking in Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Melbourne about the potential, the reality, and the dangers of stem cell therapy. They are Irv Weissman, who discovered human blood-forming stem cells, and Ann Tsukamoto, a leader in the commercial development of stem cell medicine.

Also PhD top-up grants in physics, chemistry and biology at the new ARC Imaging Centre of Excellence.

And national tours for the Mythbusters, and astronaut Chris Hadfield. Read the full article →

Geoff Carr, Science Editor, Economist. Credit:

Geoff Carr, Science Editor, Economist. Credit:

Join us for a conversation with Geoff Carr, The Economist’s Science Editor, hosted by the University of Melbourne on behalf of the Parkville Precinct Communications Group, at a special viewing of the exhibition TRANSMISSIONS | Archiving HIV/AIDS | Melbourne 1979-2014. The exhibition showcases artworks, manuscripts, and other material from private collections and public archives explores the history of AIDS as seen in Melbourne.

Geoff Carr is in Melbourne for AIDS 2014. We have asked him if he could join us for a conversation about science, science journalism, The Economist, and his impressions from AIDS 2014.

12.30 – 2pm Thursday 24 July 

Light lunch is provided followed by discussion in the George Paton Gallery – Level 2, Student Union Building, University of Melbourne, Parkville Campus

M/C: Niall Byrne, Creative Director, Science in Public

After training as a zoologist, Geoff Carr joined The Economist in 1991 as Science Correspondent. He then became Tokyo Correspondent in 1994 and in 1995 moved to his current job as Science Editor.

When he isn’t editing he has particular interests in evolution, genomics, biotech, AIDS and malaria, and renewable-energy technologies.

This is a free forum aimed at journalists, science communicators and researchers. 

Places are limited, RSVP essential to

For more information about the exhibition contact or if you’re lost on the day contact Rebecca Scott | Acting Director Media and PR| University Communications Mobile +61 417 164 791,


Two stories today:

Dancing bees and a dancing bee researcher

A researcher at The University of Sydney has just released his latest research on honey bee interpretive dance.

He’s got some nice vision of bees dancing, and he can dance too.

James Makinson has been evicting bees from their homes to figure out how they find a new nest site. It’s work that could help with understanding and managing honeybees for pollination services, ecological health, and pest control.

He’ll be at Sydney Uni with bees today. He’s also provided some footage of the bees ‘dancing’ about where to nest, then heading off after coming to agreement.

James does a good ‘waggle dance’ too. He was a national finalist of FameLab Australia -a science communication competition for early-career researchers.

More below

Also: Do you look infected? Should I kill you? No, I’m fine, move along

How viruses use ‘fake’ proteins to hide in our cells: some viruses can hide in our bodies for decades. They make ‘fake’ human proteins that trick our immune cells into thinking ‘everything is awesome’, there’s nothing to see here.

Now researchers at the Imaging Centre of Excellence at Monash and Melbourne Universities have used synchrotron light to determine the basic structure of one of the two known families of these deceptive proteins.

We issued this story on Friday and it will be published in September’s Journal of Biological Chemistry.

More below


Read the full article →