Diversity in science; Aussie physicists recognised by IUPAP; where could physics take your career – a new guide; and more – Physics in May

AIP President’s blog, Australian Institute of Physics

This month we celebrate some young achievers, discuss the implications of the 457 visa changes, invite nominations for the AIP prizes, and preview the new international physics careers guide. Professor Andrew PeeleInterim Director, Australian Synchrotron

I’d like to begin by highlighting the achievement of AIP member Dr Mohsen Rahmani from the ANU, who has won the 2017 IUPAP Young Scientist Prize in Laser Physics and Photonics (Fundamental Aspects).

Australia plays an important international role in the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics with a number of members of IUPAP Commissions and, indeed the chair of IUPAP is currently an AIP member—Professor Bruce McKellar.

Diversity in our workplace and in our collaborations is a way of bringing new ideas and approaches into what we do. Sometimes diversity in areas other than gender representation gets overlooked in the discussion, but diversity in nationality, and to some extent ethnicity, is one that science and physics has traditionally incorporated intuitively—for instance through the many large scale international physics collaborations that are undertaken.

In this bulletin there are two items relating to diversity: first, an opportunity to assist researchers running a research project to find out what drives the success and well-being of indigenous and non-indigenous professionals; and second, some important information about the recent 457 visa changes, which may impact the future ability of institutions to continue current levels of international collaboration and training.

Also related to the future of physics—members and non-members alike who are looking for a career in physics would be well advised to take a look at the Institute of Physics 2017 edition of Physics World Careers. If you are an AIP member, remember one of the benefits of membership is a healthy discount on the IOP membership fee.

Being informed and active in the areas highlighted in the bulletin, and more, are part of being a member of the AIP. If you would like to become a member or to renew your membership, go to aip.org.au/joining-the-aip

Kind regards,

Andrew Peele
President, Australian Institute of Physics

AIP news

Aussie physicists scoop IUPAP Young Scientist prizes

AIP member Dr Mohsen Rahmani from the ANU has won the 2017 IUPAP Young Scientist Prize in Laser Physics and Photonics IUPAP(Fundamental Aspects)
“for his outstanding contributions to light-matter interactions at nanoscale, particularly nonlinear nanophotonics via metallic, dielectric and semiconductor nanostructures and metasurfaces, which have paved the road for extending nonlinear optics to nanoscale”.

Moshen’s work received a fair bit of attention late last year around the APPC-AIP Congress where he spoke about the potential applications of his work to night vision glasses.
Here is some of the coverage in the Sydney Morning Herald and New Atlas.

Dr Rahmani is currently an Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Research Award holder at the Australian National University. Until recently he was a research associate at the Blackett Laboratory, Imperial College London, United Kingdom; following a PhD from the National University of Singapore, Singapore (2013).

The 2017 IUPAP Young Scientist Prize in Laser Physics and Photonics (Applied Aspects) was also awarded to an Australian. A/Prof Igor Aharonovich from University of Technology Sydney’s nanophotonics group won “for his outstanding contributions to research on quantum emitters in wide band-gap semiconductors”.

More at: http://iupap.org/commissions/c17-laser-physics-and-photonics/c17-news

Astrophysics award open for nominations

The IUPAP Young Scientist Prize in Astrophysics (C19) 2017 is now open for nominationsclosing 15 June

The IUPAP Young Scientist Medals of 2016 and 2017 and Awards of 1,000 EUR will be awarded for two scientists working in the field of astrophysics.

The winners will be invited to give a presentation of scientific achievements at the 28th Texas Symposium on Relativistic Astrophysics (December 3-8, 2017 in Cape Town, South Africa).

More at: http://iupap.org/commissions/c19-astrophysics/news

AIP Prizes

The following AIP medals and awards are open for nomination:

  • The Walter Boas Medal for excellence in physics research in the past five years
  • The Bragg Gold Medal for the student judged to have completed the most outstanding Australian physics PhD thesis
  • The Outstanding Service to Physics award for exceptional contribution to the furtherance of physics as a discipline.

For more information, head to aip.org.au/medals-awards-and-prizes or email Olivia Samardzic on olivia.samardzic@dsto.defence.gov.au.

Nominations close 1 June (except for the Bragg Gold medal, which closes 1 July).

Book reviewers and articles wanted for Australian Physics

Reviewers are sought for the following books:

  • Essential MATLAB for Engineers and Scientists (6th Edition) by Brian Hahn and Daniel Valentine
  • Why String Theory? by Joseph Conlon
  • Quantum Optomechanics by W P Bowen & G J Milburn
  • Materials Aspect of Thermoelectricity edited by Ctirad Uher
  • Blackbody Radiation: A History of Thermal Radiation Computational Aids and Numerical Methods by Sean M. Stewart, R. Barry Johnson
  • String Theory and the Real World by Gordon Kane
  • An Introduction to Quantum Theory by Jeff Greensite
  • Outside the Research Lab: Vol 1: Physics in the arts, architecture and design by Sharon Ann Holgate
  • The Dark Universe by Catherine Heymans
  • Space Weather by Mike Hapgood
  • Complex Light by Jeff Secor, Robert Alfano and Solyman Ashrafi
  • The Physics of Thermoelectric Energy Conversion by H Julian Goldsmid

Australian Physics also accepts articles for the bi-monthly magazine, and we strongly encourage our members to contribute their articles.
If you’re interested in reviewing a book or submitting an article to Australian Physics, contact editor Brian James at b.james@physics.usyd.edu.au.

Physics news & opportunities

What do the 457 visa changes mean for physics?

By its very nature science is an international pursuit, and physics is no difference. The transfer of skills and knowledge between Australia and the rest of the world is crucial for our success on the world stage.

Some of the best young physicists in Australia—including Katie Mack, Alan Duffy and Michael Biercuk—came to Australia on the 457 Visa program, which the government announced this month it will be scrapping.

Physicists, including Michael Biercuk, have called on the government to clarify what the changes will mean for science and whether post-docs will have their PhDs counted as work experience under the new scheme.

“Previously it was acknowledged in the 457 visa scheme that people who’ve done PhDs (which include a bachelor’s degree, masters degree and then potentially six years of research and teaching) they meet their work experience,” Professor Biercuk said.

“Right now we don’t have clarity whether these specialist degrees will count towards the work experience requirement and we really need that.”

Read more: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-04-19/scientists-fear-457-visa-changes-will-hurt-research-labs/8454330

The AIP is a member of Science and Technology Australia, and we’ll be working with them to minimise the impact of the changes.

Success and well-being for indigenous and non-indigenous Australians at work

A new generation of Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians are succeeding in their work, however there is limited research identifying what drives this success.

In order to replicate and extend such success in future generations, further research is required.

The Institute for Positive Psychology and Education at the Australian Catholic University are running a research project to find out what drives the success and well-being of Indigenous and non-Indigenous professionals.

Currently, the project is seeking to hear from those in the field of science.
If you would like to participate in the study please follow this link below to complete a 30-minute online survey: www.ippe.acu.edu.au/triumphing

By completing the survey you can go into the draw to win a $200 gift voucher, an Indigenous artwork or book.

Your future with physics—read the IOP’s new Physics World Careers

The Institute of Physics have launched a careers guide. The 2017 worldedition of Physics World Careers contains a selection of the best articles published in the magazine’s careers section last year, plus an extensive employer directory.

You can read the guide online for free.

Or if you’re an employer you can register to be included in the 2018 guide.

Here’s what Margaret Harris says about the new guide: “In a typical month, the careers section of Physics World features the stories of two different physicists: one who is working in a physics-related field (such as engineering or teaching), and another who decided to do something totally different (such as designing sailboats or running a winery).

“I find these stories endlessly fascinating, and when I was Physics World’s careers editor, I loved sharing them with the wider physics community. But the section isn’t there just to add human interest. It’s also giving current students (and later-career physicists seeking a change) a better idea of what they could do with their physics knowledge in the workplace.

“After talking to students and careers professionals, I realized that publishing two stories in the magazine once a month wasn’t really the ideal way of doing this – at least, not for readers who are actively looking for careers ideas, and who might therefore prefer to learn about lots of different options at once.

“So, with these readers in mind, we’ve come up with a brand-new publication for 2017. The first edition of Physics World Careers contains a selection of the best articles published in the magazine’s careers section last year, plus an extensive employer directory.

“Inside, you can read about the experiences of physics graduates working in defence, medicine, manufacturing, science policy and many other areas. You’ll also get some handy tips about putting together a CV, finding research internships and running a student science conference. And best of all, you’ll find specific, relevant information about companies interested in hiring people who have the technical and problem-solving skills that a physics degree provides – skills that, as the Institute of Physics president Roy Sambles reminds us in the publication’s foreword, are needed in a wide variety of fields.”

More at: http://blog.physicsworld.com/2017/02/07/your-future-with-physics/

Physics in the news

Should Australia join the ESA?

Australian CubeSats on their way to ISS

Michelle Simmons in The Australian

David Reitze calls for LIGO detector in Australia
AIP members can read more about Australia’s role in the first direct detection of gravitational waves in the March-April edition of Australian Physics.

Cosmic Vertigo—podcast from Amanda Bauer and Alan Duffy

Cosmic Vertigo is a new astronomy podcast on ABC Radio National, brought to you by space experts Amanda Bauer and Alan Duffy.vertigo

It explores all aspects of the Universe, and that dizzy feeling you get when you think of the incomprehensible scale of space.

Each episode takes you through a different aspect of space, from the Moon, to our Solar System, to what makes a star, and more.

You can check out the podcast here: www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/cosmicvertigo

Cleaning up space junk with lasers—talk by Dr Ben Greene 6 June

Dr Ben Greene is the CEO of the Space Environment Research Centre (SERC), a multi-national research collaboration for the management and mitigation of space debris. SERC’s mission involves developing and commercialising technologies to reduce the threat to space-based infrastructure from space debris. SERC research leverages very accurate information from new optical space tracking facilities in Australia to develop viable near-term strategies to move debris in space using only ground-based lasers.

The first on-orbit tests of this approach using full-scale lasers will take place in 2019. Register for the event here.

Ever since the launch of the world’s first satellite in 1957, Sputnik 1, we’ve been sending stuff into space. Estimates are now that there are millions of pieces of space junk – and if we take no action to fix the problem space is likely to become unusable. Not just for astronauts, but also for all the pieces of satellite tech that assist our modern lives (from GPS to the Internet). You can read more about space junk on the Academy’s NOVA website: http://www.nova.org.au/space-junk


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.


[ACT] Cleaning up space junk with lasers (Dawn of the new space age talk series)
Tue, 6 Jun 2017, 5:30pm

[ACT] Australian satellites and where to find them (Dawn of the new space age talk series)
Tue, 15 Aug 2017, 5:30pm

[ACT] Journeying to the centres of the planets (Dawn of the new space age talk series)
Tue, 17 Oct 2017, 5:30pm

[ACT] Australia’s role in looking for life on Mars (Dawn of the new space age talk series)
Tue, 5 Dec 2017, 11am


[NSW] Primary science teacher professional development day
Fri, 5 May 2017, 9:30am
ANSTO Discovery Centre

[NSW] Jordan Collier Colloquium
Wed, 10 May 2017, 3pm
Marsfield Lecture Theatre

[NSW] Cold gas in the ISM – Measuring the temperature of the Riegel-Crutcher cloud
Fri, 12 May 2017, 3pm
Macquarie University E6B 2.300

[NSW] Ross Turner Colloquium
Wed, 17 May 2017, 3pm
Marsfield Lecture Theatre


[Qld] Physics Careers Evening
Fri, 12 May 2017, 5:30pm
Room B124, Level 1, B Block


[SA] Secondary science teacher professional development day (pre-service)
Thu, 8 Jun 2017, 9am
The Science Exchange

[SA] Secondary science teacher professional development day (in-service)
Fri, 9 Jun 2017, 9am
The Science Exchange


There are no upcoming events.


[VIC] ANSTO PD for teachers
Tue, 20 Jun 2017, 9am
Australian Synchrotron, 800 Blackburn Rd, Clayton, Victoria

[VIC] Colloquium: Melbourne Planetarium – tapping into the public appeal of astronomy
Thu, 29 Jun 2017, 10:30am
Melbourne Planetarium

[VIC] ANSTO PD for teachers (November)
Thu, 16 Nov 2017, 9am
Australian Synchrotron, 800 Blackburn Rd, Clayton, Victoria


There are no upcoming events.

aipdenotes AIP events


[QLD] Gravitational Wave Advanced Detector Workshop 2017
Sun, 7 May 2017
Hamilton Island, Queensland

[Vic] The 1st Asia Oceania Forum (AOF) Synchrotron Radiation School
Sun, 28 May 2017
National Centre for Synchrotron Science at the Australian Synchrotron

[NSW] Southern Cross 2017: Surveying the Cosmos, The Science From Massively Multiplexed Surveys
Mon, 5 Jun 2017
Crystal Ballroom, Luna Park, Sydney

[SA] QCD Downunder 2017
Mon, 10 Jul 2017
Novotel Cairns Oasis Resort

[QLD] International Conference on Photonic, Electronic and Atomic Collisions (ICPEAC XXX)
Wed, 26 Jul 2017
Cairns Convention Centre, Queensland

[Int’l] 2nd International Conference on Physics
Mon, 28 Aug 2017, 8am
Brussels, Belgium

[NSW] AIP Annual Scientific Meeting
Sun, 3 Dec 2017
UNSW, Sydney, Australia

QCD Downunder 2017
Mon, 10 Jul 2017, Novotel Cairns Oasis Resort

International Conference on Photonic, Electronic and Atomic Collisions (ICPEAC XXX)
26 July to 1 August 2017, Cairns, Qld
Note the AIP student travel scheme for AIP student members will be available for this conference.

[NSW] The 42nd Annual Condensed Matter and Materials Meeting
Tue, 30 Jan 2018, 2pm
Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga, NSW, Australia

International Particle Accelerator Conference (IPAC 2019) 
25–29 May 2019, Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre, Vic

Contributions and contact details

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