Boas Medal, women in physics and video comps: physics in August

AIP President’s blog, Australian Institute of Physics, Bulletins
Boas Medal, women in physics and video comps: physics in August post image

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.

Please note that replies to this email go to Science in Public, who send the bulletin out for me. You can contact me directly on, and there is a comprehensive list of contact details at the end of the bulletin.



Rob Robinson
President, Australian Institute of Physics

In this issue…

AIP member news

Boas medal goes to Chennupati Jagadish

Professor Chennupati Jagadish from the Australian National University (ANU) has been awarded the AIP’s 2013 Walter Boas Medal for excellence in physics research.

Jagadish’s work is in the fields of compound semiconductor optoelectronics and nanotechnology, where he has developed new ways of growing quantum dots, nanowires and semiconductor lasers through techniques such as metal organic chemical vapour deposition.

After achieving his PhD and lecturing at the University of Delhi in India, Jagadish worked as a post-doctoral research fellow at Queen’s University in Kingston, Canada. He moved to Australia in 1990 and established a major research program in his chosen fields.

Jagadish is currently an Australian Laureate Fellow, Distinguished Professor and Head of Semiconductor Optoelectronics and Nanotechnology Group in the Department of Electronic Materials Engineering, Research School of Physical Sciences and Engineering, ANU.

He is also Vice-President and Secretary of Physical Sciences at the Australian Academy of Science, Vice-President (Finance and Administration) of the IEEE Photonics Society, Director of the ACT node of the Australian National Fabrication Facility, and Convenor of the Australian Nanotechnology Network.

The AIP will present Jagadish with his Boas Medal later in the year at a meeting of the Victorian Branch, where he will also give a lecture on his work. In the meantime, you can read more about his research in the ANU ScienceWise articles, “Taking the strain out of quantum lasers” and “Golden seeds grow nanowire lasers”.

AIP Congress program evolves

A rich taste of the Art of Physics awaits you at the AIP Congress in Canberra in December, with exciting events already confirmed and submitted abstracts being selected for the program.

Running alongside the Congress, the ANU will host an exhibition titled Velocity, which brings together paintings by Robert Boynes, Jon Cattapan and Derek O’Connor, video installations by Merilyn Fairskye and the British duo Semiconductor, and photographs by Gilbert Bel-Bachir, that prompt reflection on technology and the phenomena of speed.

On the scientific side, the Congress’s public lecture will be delivered by visiting US cosmologist Lawrence Krauss on 11 December. As a prolific author of popular science books and articles, as well as scientific publications, his talk is sure to be well attended.

And in the Congress’s social program, attendees will be able to join a tour of Canberra’s historic Mt Stromlo Observatory, with drinks and canapes.

Registrations for the Congress are now open. Go to

Video & photo contests for physics students

School students from around Australia can Frame their Physics and make a video of up to three minutes as part of an AIP competition.

It could be a cool research project or an interesting question like why is the sky is blue, how do stars form, or how do lasers work? If you can explain it to your friends, you can explain it to anyone!

The contest runs until 31 October, so get filming now! Find out more at

Meanwhile, our Victorian branch is running another contest just for Victorian schools, in which students are asked to film a Q&A between two or more people on the science of climate change. You can find out more at

If that wasn’t enough, the Victorian branch is also holding a photo contest, for pictures depicting physics in everyday life. Again, this is only open to Victorian school students. Find out more at

The Victorian photo and video contests both close on the first day of term 4, 6 October.

Victorian Young Physicists’ Tournament

Registrations are now open for this team contest, in which students conduct experiments and then present and defend their findings—and challenge other teams.

The tournament, run by the AIP Victorian branch, involves teams of three year 11 and 10 physics students conducting experiments throughout the year. They then meet for a final confrontation at Quantum Victorian in Macleod West on 2 and 3 December.

This year’s topics are:

  • Conductivity of pencil lines—The lines, drawn by so-called ‘lead’ pencils, conduct electricity. Investigate the factors that determine the resistance of the line.
  • Bouncing ball—If you hold a Ping-Pong ball above the ground and release it, it bounces.  The nature of the collision changes if the ball contains liquid.  Investigate how the nature of the collision depends on the amount of liquid inside the ball and other relevant parameters.
  • Rubber motor—A twisted rubber band stores energy and can be used to power a model aircraft, for example.  Investigate the properties of such an energy source and how its power output changes with time.

Entry is free, but teams must be registered by the first day of Term 4, i.e., 6 October 2014.

For more information and examples from previous tournaments, see

Keep in mind Physics in Industry Day

The mind underpins all industries imaginable, which is why our NSW branch is making it the theme of this year’s Physics in Industry day.

Understanding how the mind works could boost knowledge-based industries via productivity gains or neural enhancements. And understanding thought and consciousness may lead to machines that excel in science and art the way that robots currently populate production lines.

A wonderful mix of speakers will investigate the mind from their diverse standpoints, including:

  • Buddhist monk Ajahn Brahmavamso
  • IBM researcher Jürg von Känel
  • complex systems and brain dynamics expert Peter Robinson
  • cognitive scientist Kirsty Kitto.

Join us on 6 November 2014 at CSIRO, Lindfield West, NSW.

For more information to get your mind moving, see

Other physics news

Imaging PhD top-up scholarships

Australian physicists have contributed a great deal to medical imaging, and now PhD students can help pioneer the next generation of techniques at atomic, molecular, cellular and whole-animal levels at the new ARC Centre of Excellence for Advanced Molecular Imaging.

Top-up scholarships worth $5,000 p.a. are available to students who’ve secured an Australian Postgraduate Award or other full PhD scholarship, commencing 2014–15, at one of the Centre’s five nodes: Monash University, La Trobe University, the University of Melbourne, the University of New South Wales and the University of Queensland.

As well as interdisciplinary projects using physics, chemistry and biology to advance the understanding of immunity, the PhD program offers collaboration with multiple partner institutions globally and use of state-of-the-art infrastructure.

For more information, including details of research programs and Centre staff, see

Jobs at Murdoch University

Western Australia’s Murdoch University is seeking a professor or associate professor in physics, as well as two lecturers or senior lecturers, to join its School of Engineering and Information Technology.

The school offers world-class education and research with industry links in Physics and Nanotechnology, Mathematics, Energy Studies, Information Technology, Extractive Metallurgy, and Engineering and Resources.

Applications for the lecturer/senior lecturer positions close 29 July 2014, while the professor/associate professor position closes 18 August 2014.

Find out more at

CSIRO Alumni Scholarship

CSIRO Alumni, a network of former staff who voluntarily support science in Australia, offers scholarships to support Australia’s future scientists.

In 2015, they will be awarding the CSIRO Alumni Scholarship in Physics, which aims to connect the brightest young physicists or mathematicians to a leading research centre overseas or in Australia. Research in physics and mathematics is fundamental for Australia’s future. The founders of this scholarship know that early experience in leading overseas laboratories greatly benefits Australian research and the graduate.

The scholarship has been established to honour the memory of Drs John Dunlop, Tony Farmer, Gerry Haddad and Don Price, with generous donations from their families, friends and colleagues and the Alumni in conjunction with the Laboratories Credit Union.  The Alumni hope to offer a similar scholarship annually.

The 2015 CSIRO Alumni Scholarship in Physics will be a post-graduate travel scholarship, which will fund an airfare up to $3,000 to visit and/or conduct research in an overseas or interstate institution such as a university or research establishment of international standing in the field.

For more, see

Medallists return from student Olympiad

Australia’s International Physics Olympiad team has returned from Kazakhstan with two silver medals, won by Alex Ritter and Allen Gu from Scotch College, Victoria, and Brisbane Grammar School, Queensland, respectively.

In addition, bronze medals went to Arthur Thiele, from Fort Street High School, NSW, and Edric Wang, from Sydney Boys High School. And Turner Hancock from Cranbrook School, NSW, earned an honourable mention.

Well done to all the students and the team organisers for a successful Olympiad.

Why do students leave physics?

Earlier this month, The Guardian published an article by a British high school student, Sarah Chitson, explaining why she was dropping physics for her A-levels.

One of Sarah’s main reasons was that she found it hard to relate physics to everyday life. This was in contrast to a subject like biology, where the human applications for topics like stem cells were more apparent.

She was also influenced by the lack of female physics teachers, although she stressed that she didn’t feel she was being trapped by stereotypes.

Many of these same points could apply in Australia as well, so Sarah’s observations give us valuable insight into how to entice students to remain in physics and help ensure our research future.

Read the article at The Guardian online.

AIP events

The Art of Physics, 2014 AIP Congress
7–11 Dec 2014
ANU, Canberra

Exploring the frontiers of size and energy at the Large Hadron Collider: Sub-atomic particles, the Higgs Boson and beyond

Thu 7 Aug, 6:30pm
Napier Lecture Theatre 102, University of Adelaide, SA

Public lecture

Chris Rogan gives an introduction to the subatomic world, the particles that reside there and the forces that govern them.

Tour of the Telecom Museum

Tue 12 Aug, 6pm
Telemuseum, corner of Sandgate Rd and Oriel Rd, Clayfield, Qld

Tour and talk

As a Tools of Science novelty we’ll be visiting the Telemuseum, with former engineer Leo Moloney as our guide.

Brian Schmidt presents the Accelerating Universe

Tue 19 Aug, 8pm, Launceston
Wed 20 Aug, 8pm, Hobart

Public lectures

For National Science Week, the University of Tasmania will host lectures by 2011 Nobel Laureate Brian Schmidt, describing the discovery of Dark Energy.

The hunt for dark matter

Wed 20 Aug, 6:30pm
Napier Lecture Theatre 102, The University of Adelaide

Public lecture

Juan Collar from the University of Chicago will describe how teams of researchers worldwide search for dark matter particles.

2014 Einstein Lecture, ‘Pocket Astrophysics’

Fri 21 Sep, 6pm
Powerhouse Museum, Sydney

Public lecture

Orsola De Marco reveals the fascinating world of astrophysicists from her personal experience.

More events below

News in brief

Plasma Fusion Research Facility launched

Operating temperatures of 30,000 °C to be reached in the H1 nuclear fusion experiment at ANU.

Antarctic wind changes may raise sea levels

Ocean temperatures under ice shelves could be increased by wind shifts, according to UNSW models.

Long-distance quantum communication

Magnetic fields used to link superconducting qubits by researchers from Macquarie University and University of Queensland.

Unexpected galactic dance challenges models

University of Sydney astronomer finds coordinated motion of dwarf satellites around 50 per cent of galaxies.

Twisting light with meta-atoms

New metamaterial created by ANU researchers rotates the polarisation of light.

Sound approach to nano-manufacturing

RMIT University researchers use high-frequency sound waves to control a thin film of fluid and create patterns on a microchip.

Observing underwater storms with earth vibrations

University of Tasmania researchers find patterns of deep ocean storm activity in seismic records.

Distant galaxy soon to be ‘red and dead’

Carbon monoxide in gas-guzzling galaxy detected by University of Western Australia astronomers.

Nanoscale pumps for controlling fluid

Fluid dynamics model from Swinburne University of Technology directs flow without mechanical pumps or electrodes.

Southern view of pulsed gamma rays

University of Adelaide astronomer part of team that built the world’s largest gamma ray telescope.


AIP event denotes AIP events


2014 Physics Project Market Day
Tue, 19 Aug 2014, 11:30am
Melville Hall, Ellery Crescent, ANU
For students

Brian Cox – Making Sense of the Cosmos
Fri, 24 Oct 2014, 7pm
Royal Theatre, National Convention Centre Canberra
Public lecture


Stephen Curry: X-ray Crystallography: a new view of the world
Mon, 18 Aug 2014, 6pm
Law School LT 101
Public lecture

Zdenka Kuncic: Forward Momentum: How physics is revolutionising medicine
Wed, 20 Aug 2014, 5:45pm
Eastern Avenue Auditorium, The University of Sydney
Public lecture

AIP event Orsola De Marco: 2014 Einstein Lecture, ‘Pocket Astrophysics’
Fri, 12 Sep 2014, 6pm
Powerhouse Museum, 500 Harris St, Ultimo
Public lecture

Brian Cox – Making Sense of the Cosmos
Wed, 22 Oct 2014, 7pm
State Theatre, Sydney
Public lecture

AIP event Physics in Industry Day: Physics of the Mind
Thu, 6 Nov 2014, 9am
CSIRO, 36 Bradfield Road, Lindfield West NSW 2070


AIP event Paul Meredith: Plastic semiconductors – the future of sustainable electronics?
Fri, 1 Aug 2014, 9:30am
Ken Thamm Centre Lecture Theatre, Immanuel Lutheran College AM, Sunshine Coast
For students and teachers

Thierry Foglizzo: From the dynamics of a hydraulic jump to the asymmetric character of stellar explosions
Thu, 7 Aug 2014, 2pm
AEB Civil Engineering School Seminar Room 49-502, The University of Queensland, St Lucia
Public lecture

AIP event Leo Moloney: Telecom museum
Tue, 12 Aug 2014, 6pm
Telemuseum, corner of Sandgate Rd and Oriel Rd, Clayfield
Tour and talk

Journey Through the Cosmos with Brian Cox and the QSO
Thu, 6 Nov 2014
QPAC Concert Hall, Brisbane
Public lectures and music


PDplus: Photonics
Tue, 5 Aug 2014, 3:45pm
The Science Exchange, 55 Exchange Place, Adelaide
For teachers

AIP event Chris Rogan: Exploring the frontiers of size and energy at the Large Hadron Collider: Sub-atomic particles, the Higgs Boson and beyond
Thu, 7 Aug 2014, 6:30pm
Napier Lecture Theatre 102, University of Adelaide, North Terrace, Adelaide
Public lecture

AIP event Juan Collar: The hunt for dark matter
Wed, 20 Aug 2014, 6:30pm
Napier Lecture Theatre 102, The University of Adelaide, North Terrace, Adelaide

Tanya Monro: 2014 Science Inspiration
Wed, 17 Sep 2014, 11am
The Science Exchange, 55 Exchange Place, Adelaide
For students and teachers

Tanya Monro: 2014 Science Inspiration
Wed, 17 Sep 2014, 7pm
The Science Exchange, 55 Exchange Place, Adelaide
Public lecture

Brian Cox – Making Sense of the Cosmos
Tue, 14 Oct 2014, 7pm
Adelaide Entertainment Centre
Public lecture


AIP event Brian Schmidt: The accelerating universe
Tue, 19 Aug 2014, 8pm
Sir Raymond Ferrall Centre, Newnham campus, University of Tasmania, Launceston
Public lecture

AIP event Brian Schmidt: The accelerating universe
Wed, 20 Aug 2014, 8pm
Stanley Burbury Theatre, University Centre, Sandy Bay campus, University of Tasmania, Hobart
Public lecture


Harry Quiney: Light: Wave or Particle?
Thu, 7 Aug 2014, 6pm
Hercus Theatre, School of Physics, The University of Melbourne
For students

Richard Hieb: Meet an astronaut
Fri, 15 Aug 2014, 1pm
Victorian Space Science Education Centre, Strathmore Secondary College, 400 Pascoe Vale Rd, Strathmore
For students and teachers

Max Thompson: Sound(s) of Music
Thu, 21 Aug 2014, 6pm
Hercus Theatre, School of Physics, The University of Melbourne
For students

Chris Fluke: State of the Universe IV
Fri, 22 Aug 2014, 6:30pm
ATC101, ATC building, Swinburne University, Hawthorn Campus
Public lecture

Juan Collar: The hunt for dark matter
Tue, 26 Aug 2014, 6:30pm
Carrillo Gantner Theatre, Sidney Myer Asia Centre, 761 Swanston Street, University of Melbourne
Public lecture

Clare Kenyon: How do I tackle the VCE physics exam?
Thu, 4 Sep 2014, 6pm
Hercus Theatre, School of Physics, The University of Melbourne
For students

Brian Cox – Making Sense of the Cosmos
Sat, 18 Oct 2014, 7pm
The Plenary, Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre
Public lecture


Steven Tingay: Paving the way with the MWA
Thu, 28 Aug 2014, 7pm
Scitech Planetarium, Ground Floor, City West, Cnr Sutherland Street, West Perth
Public lecture

Brian Cox – Making Sense of the Cosmos
Thu, 16 Oct 2014, 7pm
Riverside Theatre, Perth Convention & Exhibition Centre
Public lecture


NEW 5th IUPAP International Conference on Women in Physics
5–8 August 2014, Waterloo, Canada

NEW ROSIS Workshop: Introduction to Patient Safety in Radiation Oncology and Radiology
3 September 2014, Melbourne Convention Centre, Vic

PNCMI 2014: Polarised Neutrons for Condensed Matter Investigations 2014
15–19 September 2014, University of Sydney, NSW

ENVIRO’14: Pathways for better business
17–19 September 2014, Adelaide Convention Centre, Adelaide, SA

Joint International Conference on Hyperfine Interactions and Symposium on Nuclear Quadrupole Interactions 2014
21–26 September 2014, Academy of Sciences, Canberra, ACT

NEW VASCAA-7: 7th Vacuum and Surface Sciences Conference of Asia and Australia
5–9 October 2014, Hsinchu, Taiwan

MEDSI 2014 – Mechanical Engineering Design of Synchrotron Radiation Equipment and Instrumentation
20–24 October 2014, Hilton on the Park, Melbourne

2014 Australasian Radiation Protection Society Conference
26–29 Oct 2014, Hotel Grand Chancellor Hobart, Tas

XRM2014 — 12th International Conference on X-ray Microscopy
26–31 October 2014, Melbourne, Vic

The Periphery of Disks
3–6 Nov 2014, Powerhouse Museum, Sydney, NSW

NEW New User Symposium: Synchrotron, Accelerator and Neutron techniques 2014
19 November 2014, Australian Synchrotron, Clayton, Vic

NEW Australian Synchrotron User Meeting 2014
20–21 November 2014, Australian Synchrotron, Clayton, Vic

OSA Optics and Photonics Congress on Light, Energy and the Environment
2–5 December 2014, Australian National University, ACT

AIP Congress – The Art of Physics
7–11 December 2014, Australian National University, ACT

Annual Condensed Matter and Materials Meeting (“Wagga 2015”)
3–6 Feb 2015, Wagga Wagga campus of the Charles Sturt University, NSW

AMN7 Advanced Materials & Nanotechnology
8–12 February 2015, The Rutherford Hotel, Nelson, New Zealand

NEW The Most Massive Galaxies and their Precursors
9–12 February 2015, Sydney, NSW

NEW Physics Teachers Conference
20 February 2015, Monash University, Clayton, Vic

Contributions and contact details

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

  • Rob Robinson, AIP President
  • the AIP website is
  • membership enquiries to the Secretariat or 03 9895 4477
  • ideas for articles for Australian Physics to the Chair of the Editorial Board and Acting Editor Brian James, on, or the editorial board, which is listed in your latest copy of the magazine
  • contributions to the bulletin (e.g. activities, conferences and announcements) to Chris Lassig from Science in Public on or call (03) 9398 1416, by the 23rd of the month prior
  • the AIP Events Calendar to check what’s on, and also to submit your own physics-related events (any queries to Chris, as above)
  • to receive these bulletins, please email Chris, as above (you don’t need to be a member of the Institute).

(Sent by Niall Byrne, Science in Public, on behalf of the Australian Institute of Physics,