AIP member benefits; call for Congress abstracts; behind the scenes at Parliament; and more physics in April

AIP President’s blog, Australian Institute of Physics

Preparations for the 2018 AIP Congress—in Perth, December 9 to

Professor Andrew Peele Interim Director, Australian Synchrotron

Professor Andrew Peele
Interim Director, Australian Synchrotron

13—are now well underway, with most of the plenary speakers announced. And the call for abstracts has just opened. More on both of those below.

This year we are really trying to attract a larger industry presence at the Congress, so please pass on the call for abstracts to those you know who are working in physics outside academia. It would also be great to see a large representation of science teachers at the conference.

Get your abstracts in today to help make this the biggest and best Congress yet.

As you probably know, AIP members receive discounted rates to attend the AIP Congress, but there are many other member benefits too.

This month our Vice President Jodie Bradby shared her thoughts on why all physicists should be members of the AIP. She highlights the great work undertaken by our members, and the events they work tirelessly to make happen.

Also in this bulletin, we hear from an AIP member who represented the AIP at Science meets Parliament earlier this year. Claire Edmunds, a PhD candidate from the University of Sydney and Professor Andre Luiten from the Institute for Photonics & Advanced Sensing (IPAS) were given the chance to network with the most brilliant minds in Australian science and members of parliament—while learning about the value those relationships provide.

I was pleased to hear that the experience was not only beneficial for our representatives and their careers, but was also a whole lot of fun. You can read Claire’s report below and Andre’s in the next edition of Australian Physics.

Finally, a lot of great Australian physics research made its way into the news this month, so be sure to check out some of the great media coverage below.

AIP News

AIP Congress 2018—plenaries announced and call for abstracts

From gravitational waves to plasma and nuclear fusion— meet the plenary speakers coming to the 2018 AIP Congress in Perth.

Our speakers have been responsible for pioneering experimental quantum information science, founding a Biomedical Optics group, and have received countless awards between them— including a Nobel Prize. They will come from across the globe to educate and inspire us; ensuring this year’s Congress will be unforgettable.

We are proud to announce that the 2018 Congress will have a balance of male and female plenary speakers (two speaker confirmations are still pending). We are also aiming for balanced gender representations amongst the invited speakers, and are happy to consider suggestions for top-notch speakers.

Read more about all the speakers at:

Nobel Laureate Prof Rainer Weiss (MIT, USA)

Gravitational Waves Detection
Rainer Weiss is best known for his pioneering measurements of the spectrum of the cosmic microwave background radiation, his inventions of the monolithic silicon bolometer and the laser interferometer gravitational wave detector and his roles as a co-founder and an intellectual leader of both the COBE (microwave background) Project and the LIGO (gravitational-wave detection) Project.

Prof Monika Ritsch-Marte (Medical University of Innsbruck, Austria)

Biomedical Optics, Holography and Optical Trapping
Monika accepted the Chair of Biomedical Physics at the Medical University in Innsbruck in 1998 where she founded a Biomedical Optics group. Her current research interests include holographic optical tweezers, digital holographic microscopy and linear and non-linear Raman microscopy.

Prof Jian-Wei Pan (University of Science and Technology of China)

Quantum Foundation, Quantum Optics, Quantum Information
Jian-Wei’s research focuses on quantum optics, quantum information and quantum foundations. Due to his numerous progressions as one of the pioneers of experimental quantum information science, the field has become one of the most rapidly developing physical science fields in China.

Prof Willie Padilla (Duke University, USA)

Metamaterials and Integrated Plasmonics
Willie is particularly well known for his work at terahertz (THz) frequencies, as well as in the area of active and dynamically controlled metamaterials. His recent interests include tailoring the emissivity of objects with metamaterial coatings, and the use of active metamaterial arrays as components in THz and infrared imaging systems.

Prof Teri Odom (Northwestern University, USA)

Programmable and Reconfigurable Nanoparticle Optics
Teri is an expert in designing structured nanoscale materials that exhibit extraordinary size and shape-dependent optical properties; work which has led to numerous honours and awards. Select ones include being named a U.S. Department of Defense Vannevar Bush Faculty Fellow; a Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study Fellowship at Harvard University, and much more.

Prof Thomas Krauss (University of York, UK)

Photonic Crystals and Nanostructures
Thomas is a Fellow of the Institute of Physics, the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the Optical Society. He is interested in fundamental and applied concepts of light-matter interaction in photonic nanostructures and he has led a number of EU and EPSRC projects in various aspects of photonic crystal devices

Prof Philippa Browning (University of Manchester, UK)

Plasma Physics of Solar and Fusion Plasmas
Philippa’s research is concerned with the mysterious fourth state of matter – plasma. She uses mathematical modelling and computer simulation to understand the complex interactions between plasmas and magnetic fields, with application both to the atmosphere of the Sun and to the generation of energy by nuclear fusion.

Now it’s over to you to submit an abstract

With preparations in full swing, we are now extending an invitation for abstracts from potential speakers.

This year the AIP Congress is being held jointly with the Australian Optical Society (AOS) Conference, the 43rd Australian Conference on Optical Fibre Technology (ACOFT) and the 2018 Conference on Optoelectronic and Microelectronic Materials and Devices (COMMAD).

Abstracts are being accepted on the below themes for the three joint conferences:

All abstracts must be submitted using the same template, which can be found here.

You can read more about each on the Congress website.

Topics for the AIP Congress are:

Astronomy and Astrophysics; Atomic and Molecular Physics; Biophysics and Soft Matter Physics; Complex Systems and Computational Physics; Condensed Matter & Material; Education for Physics & Related Disciplines; Geophysics, Solar, Terrestrial & Space Physics; Gravitational Waves & Relativity; Industrial & Applied Physics; Medical Physics; Nuclear & Particle Physics; Plasma Physics; Quantum Information, Concepts & Coherence; Synchrotron Science, Scattering, Microscopy & Imaging and Theoretical & Mathematical Physics.


Biophotonics; Laser Spectroscopy; Nonlinear Optics; Optical Devices; Optical Sensing; Optics, Photonics & Laser Physics; Precision Measurement and Quantum Optics.


Electron Devices & Systems; Optoelectronics/Photonic Devices & Systems; Technologies & Theories for Microelectronics and Optoelectronics & Photonics

And help us spread the word

We need your help to make Congress the week of international-level science that we’d all like it to be. Please help us spread the word.

  • Why not entice your international collaborators to come along for a great week of science?
  • Forward the call for abstracts amongst your communities, at home and abroad.
  • Make suggestions for invited speakers!
  • Going to any national or international conferences in the next couple of months? Take some flyers along!
  • Are you working in industry or have you got graduates who moved to industry? We’d like to hear from you, as we want Australia’s industry to be a big part of the Congress.
  • Teaching physics? Get in touch and help us make the Congress relevant and useful for Australia’s physics teachers.
  • Keen to get involved or volunteer? There’s plenty to do, just get in touch.
  • Make sure you, your students and colleagues submit their best work for the Congress.

The contact details for the organising committee can be found on or simply email

See you all in Perth in December, for the Australian Institute of Physics pre-Christmas festival of science.

Inside Parliament House—a physicist’s perspective

Science meets Parliament is an annual event which builds understandings and connections between federal parliamentarians and those working in science and technology. SmP aims to ensure that science stays on the agenda of Australia’s politicians. The AIP is the official physics representative for Science meets Parliament, and each year we send selected members to the keenly anticipated event. Claire Edmunds, a PhD candidate at the University of Sydney was one of those representatives for 2018. She reflects below on her experience liaising with both scientists and politicians alike:

In February I had the incredible experience to attend Science meets Parliament 2018 on behalf on AIP. This was a two-day event in Canberra giving us a chance to learn more about the policy side of science and how to communicate to politicians, as well as allowing us the opportunity to speak directly to an MP or Senator about our work. I found the experience absolutely remarkable. From the first moment, over 200 brilliant scientists surrounded me. It was the perfect chance to discuss ground-breaking work being done in other scientific fields in Australia. One particularly exciting conversation was with Professor Colin Raston, who received the Ig Nobel prize for being able to unboil an egg!

Science and Technology Australia (STA) had organised a series of keynote talks and panels throughout the meeting. Two personal highlights were the keynote speech from Chief Scientist Alan Finkel, and a talk from Sally-Ann Williams, the Engineering Community and Outreach Manager from Google Australia. The former really emphasised that the dialogue between scientists and politicians must be treated like a relationship with four key pieces of advice: Be steadfast and have integrity, be committed to see long term change, communicate, and continually nurture the relationship.

There were constant reminders throughout the event to make our work relatable, particularly by improving our ability to speak persuasively. A couple of useful suggestions were to make use of policy advisers, as they are skilled in marrying political aspects with evidence-based science, and to leverage both sides of parliament, government and opposition. Alan Finkel’s office has also begun offering a one-year policy fellowship for anyone who is interested in understanding more about the political process.

The highlight of the second day was having the opportunity to speak to Senator Zed Seselja, the Assistant Minister of Science, Innovation and Jobs. I was both excited and intimidated to speak to someone so heavily involved in science in the government. I was in a group with three other delegates, with a broad range of specialties. The conversation was extremely positive and constructive, with the Assistant Minister being keen to both hear about our work and ask how he can help advance our work and Australian science as a whole.

It was incredible to hear such passion for science coming from the scientific and the political communities! I’ve come away from the meeting feeling inspired and determined to keep moving forward in my scientific endeavours, creating and maintaining strong links to Canberra as I do. I am exceptionally grateful to AIP for the opportunity to attend and would encourage everyone, no matter one’s knowledge of politics or scientific policy, to apply to attend in the future.

Hear from Professor Andre Luiten, from the Institute for Photonics & Advanced Sensing (IPAS), about his experience at Science meets Parliament in next month’s edition of our member-only journal: Australian Physics.

Why join the Australian Institute of Physics?

AIP Vice President Jodie Brady recently shared her thoughts on Twitter as to why all Australian Physicists should be members of the AIP, here’s a slightly edited version of her long Twitter thread…

Professional organisations like the AIP are incredibly important and yet the membership numbers are declining. I worry that if we let them die we will lose a lot as a community.

The Australian Institute of Physics is an organisation ‘dedicated to promoting the role of Physics in research, education, industry and the community’.

We have a modest ~900 members, but the scope of work undertaken by our members is impressive. I’m going to list some of the important stuff we do here. Stuff that is really essential but can often be taken for granted.

Prizes: The medals, awards and prizes administered and awarded by the AIP are really important in terms of careers and peer-recognition. And there are also lots of other awards and certificates made to secondary students and undergraduates by the state branches that are not listed on the website. These mostly aim to reward and support students with an interest and aptitude for physics.

Conferences: The AIP Congress is the major meeting for Australian Physicists, and is run biennially by the AIP, with members getting special rates. The next one is coming up in Perth in December 2018 –

Accreditation: The Australian Institute of Physics conducts an ongoing program for the accreditation of qualifications obtained via university degrees.

Outreach: This is a big one. First there is the Women in Physics tour that is run each year. Last year over 3,500 people heard the brilliant Katie Mack speak on this tour. (Fun Fact – the current Australian of the Year, Professor Michelle Simmons, was the Women in Physics lecturer 18 years ago!)

And there are lots of other outreach events too.  Last year Helen Maynard-Casely toured Queensland on the John Mainstone Youth Tour, talking to kids at schools from Brisbane to Mt Isa.

There are heaps of public lectures; and more recently the fun ‘Physics in the Pub’ series, which was started and generally hosted and run by the fabulous Phil Dooley.

(Physics events around Australia are promoted via the AIP calendar. You can upload your event here!)

The special interest topical groups within the AIP work to promote their discipline areas. From Nuclear and Particle Physics, to the very active Physics Education Group chaired by Maria Parappilly. Feel free to join your interest group and get involved!

The AIP is also the representative for physics within organisations such as Science & Technology Australia who run events such as Science meets Parliament. The AIP also engages with other international physics organisations.

It’s a busy organisation run by a dedicated group a volunteers!

And we have lots of important challenges – like how to be more inclusive of women in STEM and how to be relevant as we move away from the older, more traditional versions of professional bodies towards a new future. The many members who volunteer their time into making science a better place via these organisations deserve a big pat on the back.

Don’t be afraid to get in touch, we always welcome suggestions and always welcome help to “promote the role of Physics in research, education, industry and the community’.

Your chance to present at Physics in the Pub NSW

Physics in the Pub is firing up as a part of the Sydney Science Festival on August 16.

The NSW branch of the AIP is calling for anyone and everyone to present an eight-minute piece of your choosing. If it’s physics related, any medium is an acceptable art form. Sing, dance, read your best slam poetry; all in the name of physics.

The event is a perfect opportunity for students or timid researchers looking to get some confidence – it’s a much less sober and much more friendly crowd than a conference!

Complete the nomination form and send it through to Fred Osman before 1 June 2018 for your chance to participate.

More info here:

Other Physics News & Opportunities

Anchor$81-87K fellowship for a physicist with a PhD

The University of Queensland are looking for a PhD graduate for a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship. The fellowship involves collaboration with partners to develop a research program in Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and MR image reconstruction analysis.

The full-time role involves attending conferences, publication of scholarly papers and assistance in applying for research funding. UQ are offering a salary of $81,545-$87,535 plus employer super contributions of up to 17%

Made an original contribution to physics? You’ve got a shot at 8K research prize

Nominations for the 2017 David Syme Research Prize are now open.

The award recognises the best original research in Biology, Physics, Chemistry or Geology produced in Australia by a mid-career researcher during the past two years (1 January 2016 – 31 December 2017).

If you fit the bill, or know someone who does, take a few minutes to nominate before the closing date.

Value: approx. $8,000
Closing date: Friday 27 April 2018

Black holes, Hawking Radiation and the Theory of Everything—all in the lifetime of Stephen Hawking.

Physicists all over the nation expressed an outpouring of grief as they mourned the passing of the late Stephen Hawking. His family reported that he passed peacefully at his home in Cambridge on the 14 March. Stephen was undeniably a huge character in the physics world, and both the science community and wider world are feeling the loss left by Stephen’s passing.

The AusSMC collected reactions from physicists around the country, on Stephen’s life and achievements, you can read more at:

Paul Gardner-Stephen is a Senior Lecturer in the College of Science and Engineering at Flinders University

“In Stephen Hawking the world had a man who was not merely good at science, but a man who was dedicated to the advancement of the human race through the application of intellect and critical reasoning.

“He did this under great personal adversity, in particular in the face of an uncooperative body. He was an inspiration to many, and will continue to be for many years to come, as he should be.

It is often said that people leave large boots to be filled. In the case of Stephen Hawking, one could rather say that he has opened large areas of the cosmos to us, in time, space and understanding, that we will continue to struggle to fill for generations to come.”

Professor Miroslav Filipovic is from Western Sydney University

“The one and only Stephen Hawking will be renowned as one of the greatest minds of our time. His ideas shaped the direction of the fields of cosmology and theoretical physics. Throughout his extraordinary life, he demonstrated to all that the power of the mind can overcome all physical challenges.”

Aussie Physics in the News

Sydney just entered the race to build the world’s first quantum computer:

Precision Atom Qubits Achieve Major Quantum Computing Milestone:

New study suggests galactic bulge emissions not due to dark matter

The sign of an invisible star

Astronomers discover galaxies spin like clockwork

Scientists detect electrons outside regular orbits

Scientists unveil high-sensitivity 3-D technique using single-atom measurements

New NASA images reveal Jupiter’s secrets

Astronomers detected brightest fast radio burst ever seen still no idea what’s causing them

WA-designed clear glass solar windows gear up for production

Trailblazing for women in science

Google Unveils Largest Quantum Computer Yet, But So What?

Swinburne supercomputer to be one of the most powerful in Australia

Quantum battery could get a boost from entanglement

Books for review

If you are interested in reviewing one of these books for publication in Australian Physics, please contact the editor Brian James at

  • Lectures on General Relativity, Cosmology and Quantum Black Holes by Badis Ydri
  • The Quantum LabryrinthHow Richard Feynman and John Wheeler Revolutionized Time and Relativity by Paul Halpern
  • The Last Man Who Knew EverythingThe Life and Times of Enrico Fermi, Father of The Nuclear Age by David N. Schwartz
  • 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 Lazy Universe: An Introduction to the Principle of Least Action by Jennifer Coopersmith (printed copy)
  • The Black Book of Quantum Chromodynamics by John Campbell, Joey Huston, and Frank Krauss (printed copy)


Reach a bigger audience. The Australian physics events calendar is the definitive source for physics events around the country. If your physics event isn’t listed here, ask us about adding it, having it included in these regular bulletins and tweeted from the AusPhysics account. Alternatively, feel free to submit your event to the AIP calendar for members to access.


Director’s Colloquium Neutrino window on the universe

April 30 @ 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Australian National University, Canberra

Australian Tour | Mission Control: The Unsung Heroes of Apollo featuring Apollo 16 astronaut, Charlie Duke, and Apollo mission control flight director, Gerry Griffin, live on stage

May 5 @ 7:30PM
Llewellyn Hall, ANU


School of Physics Annual Student Awards Evening

April 17 @ 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm
The University of New South Wales


Grand Challenge Lecture: Innovation Must Become the Core of National Priority Settings @ GP

April 6 @ 4:00 pm – 5:15 pm
QUT Gardens Point The Kindler Theatre (P-421), Level 4, P Block

UQ Physics Colloquium

April 20 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
Parnell Building (07) Rm 222 (St Lucia campus)

UQ SASS – Bar Trek

April 29 @ 1:30 pm – 11:30 pm
Royal Exchange Hotel 10 High St, Toowong, Queensland, Australia 4066

Telstra’s Power of Engineering event for year 9 and 10 female students

May 1 @ 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
QUT Gardens Point campus

Physics Careers Evening

May 2 @ 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm
QUT Gibson Room, Level 10, Z Block, QUT, 2 George St
Brisbane, QLD 4001 Australia


There are no upcoming events.


Public Lecture – From Mad Scientists to Eco-Warriors: The changing image of scientists in fiction and film

April 10 @ 8:00 pm – 9:00 pm
University of Tasmania, Physics Lecture Thearte 1, Sandy Bay Campus, Hobart, Clark Road

Chemical Answers Now: Safer food, water and environment through chemistry on a chip

April 10 @ 8:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Royal Society Room, Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Hobart. (Entry from Dunn Place)

From Mad Scientists to Eco-Warriors:
The changing image of scientists in fiction and film

April 10 @ 8:00 pm – 9:00 pm
UTAS Physics Lecture Theatre 1, Sandy Bay campus

Tasmanian Youth Science Forum 2018

April 17 – April 19
University of Tasmania, Sandy Bay campus

Celebrating Light – Respecting Darkness

April 19 @ 12:30 pm – 2:00 pm
IMAS Waterfront Building, Castray Esplanade, Hobart

Girls in Physics Breakfasts

April 20 @ 7:30 am – 10:30 pm
Sunshine Convention Centre, Victoria University Sunshine Convention Centre, Victoria University, 460 Ballarat Road


The History and Future of Climate Change in Australia

April 5 @ 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Melbourne school of Design

3D AstroTours

April 10 @ 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Organizer: Swinburne University

Physics Designed

April 10 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
University of Melbourne Medley Theatre 104 Redmond Barry Building

3D AstroTours

April 10 @ 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Swinburne University, Hawthorn Campus, AR104

3D AstroTours

April 11 @ 10:00 am – 11:00 am
Swinburne University, Hawthorn Campus, AR104

Small scale structure of the IGM: A Dark Matter Tale

April 11 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
University of Melbourne David Caro building, Level 7 conference room

3D AstroTours

April 11 @ 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Swinburne University, Hawthorn Campus, AR104

Colloquium: The growing field of post-main-sequence exoplanetary science

April 12 @ 10:30 am – 11:30 pm
Swinburne University Melbourne, VIC Australia

Beginning Physics Teachers In-Service

April 13
Kew High School Melbourne, VIC Australia

Search for the Higgs boson in the WH production mode with H→ WW* decay using the ATLAS detector

April 13 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
University of Melbourne Level 6 Geoff Opat Seminar Room David Caro Building

The growing field of post-main-sequence exoplanetary science

April 18 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
University of Melbourne David Caro building, Level 7 conference room

The Quantum Revolution in Science and Technology

April 26 @ 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm
Basement Theatre Melbourne School of Design Masson Road

Girls in Physics Breakfasts

April 27 @ 7:30 am – 10:30 pm
Nancy Long Dining Hall, Bendigo Campus, Nancy Long Dining Hall, Bendigo Campus, , Bendigo Campus, La Trobe University

Australian Tour | Mission Control: The Unsung Heroes of Apollo featuring Apollo 16 astronaut, Charlie Duke, and Apollo mission control flight director, Gerry Griffin, live on stage

May 2 @ 7:30PM
Astor Theatre, St Kilda

Colloquium: Self-consistent UV emission and absorption line diagnostics

May 3 @ 10:30 am – 5:00 pm
Swinburne University Melbourne, VIC Australia


SEMINAR: Maths and Stats Colloquium

April 12 @ 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm
University of Western Australia Blakers LT

Seminar: Reigniting the role of physics in medicine

March 24 @ 4:30 pm – 5:00 pm
University of Western Australia Room 2.15, Physics Building

AIP event denotes AIP events


[VIC] 5th Asian and Oceanic Congress on Radiation Protection – AOCRP5

20-23 May 2018
Melbourne Exhibition & Convention Centre

[Int’l] XXXIX International Conference on High Energy Physics (ICHEP2018)
4-12 July 2018
Seoul, South Korea

[NSW] 9th Vacuum and Surface Science Conference of Asia and Australia
13-16 August 2018
SMC Function and Conference Centre
Sydney, Australia

[WA] 2018 AIP Congress
9-14 December 2018
University of Western Australia
Perth, Australia

Contributions and contact details

Please get in contact if you have any queries about physics in Australia: