AIP awards, Women in Physics tour and Brian Cox: physics in June 2013

AIP President’s blog, Australian Institute of Physics
AIP awards, Women in Physics tour and Brian Cox: physics in June 2013 post image

From Rob Robinson, President of the Australian Institute of Physics

First, I have great pleasure today in announcing two AIP awards: Lloyd Hollenberg from the University of Melbourne is the recipient of the 2012 AIP Walter Boas Medal, which recognises excellence in research in physics in Australia; and David Jamieson, also from the University of Melbourne, is the recipient of the 2012 AIP Outstanding Service to Physics Award. I congratulate them on the outstanding achievements that have led to their awards, of which more below.

Since my last bulletin, the Government has issued its budget—much as expected but perhaps not as bad as some may have feared. Science didn’t rate a mention in the Treasurer’s budget night speech, but I was glad to hear that funding for research infrastructure had been renewed, with $185.9 million over two years to support national research facilities. I reiterate my previous advice to lobby your local candidates for the upcoming September election, on behalf of science in general and physics in particular.

Another issue which will affect many physicists is the new Defence Export Controls regimen. Over the next two years, new measures will come in for the export of “intangibles” like electronic files, drawings and so on.  On the plus side, the change in legislation should open up more funding and commercial opportunities in the United States for Australian scientists.

Former AIP president Cathy Foley, who sits on the Prime Minister’s Science, Engineering and Innovation Council, gave the AIP Executive an update on the Defence Export Controls and the PMSEIC at our May meeting, at the Australian Astronomical Observatory’s new home in North Ryde, NSW.

Other key items of discussion were the close-out of the 2012 Congress, preparation for the 2014 Congress in Canberra, with dates now set for 7-11 December 2014, and continued thought as to whether we should bid to host the 2016 pan-Asian physics meeting in conjunction with that year’s AIP Congress.

Also, I have a lot of AIP and other activities to report on, including key awards that are currently open for nomination, an Australian tour by the UK physicist and international TV star Brian Cox, the Victorian Branch upcoming talk and tour at ARPANSA (the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency), and an insight into industrial physics from the AIP WA Branch.

Particle physicist Elisabetta Barberio, whose research group was involved in last year’s discovery of the Higgs Boson, has been chosen as the 2013 AIP Women in Physics lecturer. In addition to being an outstanding researcher, Elisabetta is committed to promoting physics to a wider audience. I congratulate Elisabetta on her selection, and look forward to a successful series of talks around the country inspiring young women to consider a career in physics.

The ACT Branch is inspiring students to think creatively about physics with their 2013 ‘Frame Your Physics’ competition which requires entrants to produce a short, fun video illustrating a physics concept. And the Seeing Stars SKA Art Prize is calling for submissions of artworks on a physics theme—inspired by the Square Kilometre Array.

The AIP also recognises excellence in physics through a number of awards. The Walter Boas Medal for excellence in research and the Bragg Gold Medal for the most outstanding PhD thesis in physics are now open for nomination. And we are also receiving nominations for the AIP Award for Outstanding Service to Physics in Australia. See the details and closing dates below.

As for myself, I am joining the Board of Science and Technology Australia, and will be representing all the societies in the Physical Sciences Cluster. I’ll attend my first meeting in Brisbane at the end of May.

You’ll find details of all these below, plus many more public events, departmental seminars and conferences listed in the bulletin. If you have a physics event coming up, please submit it to the AIP calendar, and we’ll list it in future bulletins.

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 for the AIP at the end of the bulletin.



Rob Robinson
President, Australian Institute of Physics

Follow the AIP on: Facebook      Twitter @ausphysics       LinkedIn (AIP members only)

In this bulletin:

Australian Institute of Physics news and events

AIP events

NSW:  Pollock Memorial Joint Lecture with the Royal Society of NSW
Michelle Simmons: The Future of Computing – Manipulating Atoms
Wednesday 4 September, 6.30-8.30pm
Venue TBA

Einstein lecture at the Powerhouse Museum
Benjamin J. Eggleton: Photonics in the new information age – Faster, smaller and greener
Tuesday 17 September, 6.30pm
Powerhouse Museum, Sydney

Physics in Industry Day
Thursday 7 November, from 8.30am
CSIRO Materials Science and Engineering, Lindfield

Martin Green: The physics of high-efficiency photovoltaic solar energy conversion
Tuesday 19 November, 2pm – NSW AIP Branch 2013 Postgraduate Awards, AGM, guest speaker and Annual Dinner, University of Sydney and Buon Gusto

QLD:   The Queensland Youth Physics Tour
Christian Langton, Professor of Medical Physics at Queensland University of Technology, is giving this year’s tour—a series of talks to year 10-12 students and science teachers across Queensland in July and August. Christian will be talking about how QUIC (quantitative ultrasound imaging and characterisation) is enhancing medical diagnosis and treatment of osteoporosis and cancer.

Talks are planned for:

Monday 15 July, 1.30pm – University of Southern Queensland, Hervey Bay
Tuesday 16 July, 1.30pm – University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba
Wednesday 17 July, 1pm – Central Queensland University, Rockhampton
Thursday 18 July, 9am and 12pm – Trinity Bay High School, Cairns
Friday 19th July, 9.30am – St Margaret Mary’s College, Townsville
Monday 22 July, 2.15pm – Spinifex College, Mt Isa
Friday 30 August, 9am – Immanuel Lutheran College, Sunshine Coast
Friday 30 August, 2pm – Chancellor State College secondary campus, Sunshine Coast

Some extra talks may still be added to the itinerary. Contact Christian Langton on for more information.

VIC:     AIP Vic Branch Education Committee meeting (regularly on the second Tuesday of the month)
Tuesday 11 June, 5pm – for teachers
Kew High School (non-members welcome) – contact Sue Grant, committee chair for confirmation

“The Fukushima Accident” and ARPANSA tour—VIC Branch meeting
Thursday 20 June
Peter Johnstone will talk on “The Fukushima Accident” and after his talk we’ll have a tour of ARPANSA’s particle accelerator and radiation facilities.

WA:     Short talks with long drinks wine and cheese
Wednesday 18 September (to be confirmed)

Postgraduate conference
Thursday 26–Friday 27 September (to be confirmed)

2013 AIP AGM, Dinner and Guest Speaker
Wednesday 20 November (to be confirmed)

Lloyd Hollenberg and David Jamieson announced as AIP award recipients

Today I announce that two outstanding physicists from the University of Melbourne have been recognised by the AIP for their contributions to physics.

Prof Lloyd Hollenberg is awarded the 2012 Walter Boas Medal, for his pioneering contributions to the field of quantum science and technology. His seminal research work in areas such as quantum computing/device theory and quantum sensing are truly world-leading, as demonstrated by his outstanding publication record in highly prestigious international journals.

Prof David Jamieson is the recipient of the 2012 Award for Outstanding Service to Physics, for his outstanding service to the discipline of physics over many years, including contributions to outreach, physics education, research and leadership, particularly in the Einstein Year of Physics and development of the Decadal Plan for Physics. David has a longstanding and well demonstrated passion for physics and has supported its advancement both as an outstanding professional scientist and also as a tireless advocate for the support and study of physics.

As I note below, nominations are now open for the same awards in 2013, plus the Bragg Gold medal.

2013 AIP medals open for nomination

I encourage you to consider nominating yourself, a student or a colleague, as appropriate, for one of the following AIP awards, which recognise research excellence and outstanding service to physics.

The following AIP medals and awards are now open for nomination:

  • The Walter Boas Medal, which recognises excellence in research in physics in Australia (in the past five years) by an AIP member— nominations close 1 August 2013
  • The Bragg Gold Medal for excellence in physics, which recognises the student who is judged to have completed the most outstanding PhD thesis in physics under the auspices of an Australian university in the past year—each Australian university may nominate one candidate, and these nominations must reach the State AIP Branch committee by 1 July 2013
  • The AIP Award for Outstanding Service to Physics in Australia—a Branch Committee, or three members of the AIP, may nominate an individual AIP member who has made an exceptional contribution to physics as a discipline by 1 August 2013

More info at or from Olivia Samardzic, Special Project Officer AIP, at or by phone on (08) 7389 5035.

Elisabetta Barberio to present the AIP’s 2013 Women in Physics lecture tour

Elisabetta Barberio, the 2013 Women in Physics lecturer. Credit: Casamento Photography

Elisabetta Barberio, the 2013 Women in Physics lecturer. Credit: Casamento Photography 2013

Prof Elisabetta Barberio, from the University of Melbourne, has been selected to present this year’s Women in Physics lecture tour. She’ll talk to both public audiences and school and university students across Australia. Elisabetta was chosen for both her significant contribution in the field of particle physics and her commitment to physics outreach.She currently leads the ATLAS analysis effort at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Particle Physics at the Terascale. In 2012, her group had an important role in the discovery of the Higgs-like particle at the Large Hadron Collider that has recently been confirmed as the Higgs boson.


Elisabetta has a strong record of presenting her work to popular audiences, and chairs the committee that oversees the public outreach programs run by the School of Physics at the University of Melbourne.We’ll keep you informed of her talks as they get scheduled.

Elizabeth Chelkowska, from the AIP Tasmanian Branch, is coordinating the lecture tour. You can contact her on

Explain a physics concept in a 3-minute video—a competition for ACT students

The 2013 ‘Frame your Physics’ competition has been launched. ACT students (both school and university) are invited to show a physics topic in a fun and educational 3-min video. The top videos will be featured in a special presentation night at Questacon and winners will compete for a share of $3000 in prizes!

Entries close August 19. More info, and a link to last year’s best videos, at

Industrial Physics Evening – WA Branch news

Bruce Hartley, WA Branch Treasurer, tells us about their annual ‘Industrial Physics Evening’, which was held on 21 May.

Three industrial physicists gave the audience of 40 or so, including physics students, an idea of the opportunities in industry for physics graduates.

Dr Gavin Rech, of the company TOMRA, presented his work on ore-sorting machines, which separate coal or other valuable mineral ores from low-grade materials or waste rock.  The machines use a number of sensing methods to distinguish rocks with valuable mineral content from those which can go to waste.  The machines then use blasts of compressed air to separate the rocks into graded bins as they run off the end of the conveyor belt.  The high processing speed of these instruments makes them valuable for upgrading mined ores.

Dr Greg Bush, from the company MetOcean, described his work with ocean current sensors, which can determine the effects on ocean currents of climate changes or strong weather conditions.  Interlayer boundary waves in the ocean form currents that are associated with very strong ocean movements. Such waves travel long distances across oceans and can be stronger than storm surges. Information collected from sensing them remotely is valuable for examining ocean conditions and sensing wave actions. Moored sensors can provide additional information of deep ocean conditions.

Professor Tim St Pierre talked about the sensing of iron in the body and maladies which can result from abnormal iron metabolism.  The company Resonance Health is an international business which uses the techniques for measuring iron concentrations in the body to aid diagnosis and treatment.  After discussing the science of iron detection, Professor St Pierre recounted his experiences in bringing the measuring techniques to commercial realisation, through the patenting process and fund raising to their business model to a profitable enterprise.

Books for review

John Macfarlane, the book review editor for Australian Physics, is seeking reviewers for the journal to write short book reviews (300-500 words). If your review is accepted for publication you may keep the book for your own use.

There is one book available for review this month:

  • The Long Road to Stockholm: The Story of Magnetic Resonance Imaging – An Autobiography, Peter Mansfield, Oxford University Press

Contact John at if you are interested in reviewing a book or have a suggestion of another book to review.

Other physics news and events

Physics events for the general public, students and teachers

British particle physicist, author, TV presenter and ex-rock star Prof Brian Cox is touring Australia in August with An evening of scientific phenomena

Brian Cox will be on stage with the ABC’s Adam Spencer at the following dates and places:

Saturday 10 August – Riverside Theatre, Perth
Wednesday 14 August – Hamer Hall, Melbourne
Friday 16 August – Capitol Theatre, Sydney
Saturday 17 August – Royal Theatre, Canberra
Tuesday 20 August – Concert Hall, Brisbane

Tickets go on sale 3 June (4 June for Perth show), and are likely to sell out fast.

New South Wales

HSC physics enrichment program, Macquarie University

Thursday 11 July – for NSW and ACT Year 12 physics students

Nuclear Energy for Australia?

Thursday 25 July–Friday 26 July – conference for the general public
Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering, Powerhouse Museum, Sydney

Open day at the Australia Telescope Compact Array near Narrabri

Sunday 1 September


University of Melbourne’s VCE Physics lectures – free lectures based on the VCE study design

Thursday 6 June, 6pm David Jamieson – Special relativity
Thursday 20 June, 6pm Jeff McCallum – All about electricity

University of Melbourne’s July lectures in physics – free public lectures by the university’s experts

2013 theme: The centenary of the quantum atom – “Niels Bohr’s discovery of the quantum atom”
Friday 5 July, 8pm – Prof Lloyd Hollenberg
Friday 12 July, 8pm – Prof  David Jamieson
Friday 19 July, 8pm – A/Prof Harry Quiney
Friday 26 July, 8pm – Prof Rachel  Webster

Free Astronomy public lectures, Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing, Swinburne University of Technology

Tuesday 9 July, 6.30pm – Syed Uddin, Swinburne: The dark Universe
Friday 16 August, 6.30pm – Christopher Fluke, Swinburne: Science week
Monday 9 September, 6.30pm – Chris Blake, Swinburne
Monday 11 November, 6.30pm – Eyal Kazin, Swinburne: Einstein and astronomers: An ongoing cosmic saga
Thursday 12 December, 6.30pm – Fred Watson, Australian Astronomical Observatory

The Higgs Boson on ABC’s Big Ideas

Sean Carroll, a theoretical physicist from the California Institute of Technology, recently gave a public lecture at Sydney Uni called “The particle at the end of the Universe: the Higgs Boson and the future of physics”.

The ABC’s video of the talk is now available from the “Big Ideas TV” website, at

Awards and prizes

AIP medals open for nomination
  • The Walter Boas Medal
  • The Bragg Gold Medal for excellence in physics
  • The AIP Award for Outstanding Service to Physics in Australia

See details in the separate item above or at

2013 Victoria Prize for Science & Innovation and Victoria Fellowships

The Victorian Government is calling for nominations for two of Victoria’s most prestigious science and innovation programs.

Do you know a leading Victorian scientist or researcher who has made, or has the potential to make, a significant scientific discovery or technological innovation? To recognise their achievements, nominate them for the 2013 Victoria Prize for Science & Innovation valued at $50,000. This year, two Prizes will be awarded—one for life science and one for physical science

Are you one of Victoria’s emerging scientists or researchers? Would a grant to support an overseas study mission further your research career or help develop an innovative idea? If so, apply for a 2013 Victoria Fellowship valued at up to $18,000.

Applications and nominations must be received by 2.00pm on Thursday, 27 June 2013. More info at .

Veski Innovation Fellowships

Are you an Australian expatriate or globally competitive individual who is currently overseas and looking to relocate to Victoria?

Applications from leading researchers with outstanding skills in science or innovative technology are sought for Veski innovative fellowships. Details can be found at

Applications close Friday, 28 June 2013.

Seeing Stars SKA Art Prize 2013

Celebrate art and astronomy in painting, drawing, textiles or digital prints.

The Seeing Stars SKA Art Prize is inspired by the world’s largest telescope—the Square Kilometre Array (SKA)—which will be co-hosted in Australia.

Artists and would-be artists are invited to create original pieces of artwork expressing the excitement and mystery of the SKA and its potential for discovery.

There are two categories—for entrants under twelve years of age, and an open category. The under-twelve winner receives an iPad and the open winner receives $3,000.

Entries close Friday 5 July 2013. More information on how to enter is at

Australian Academy of Science awards

Several of the 2014 AAS awards, fellowships, and conference supporting funds are open to physicists, including the following:

Australia-China Young Researchers Exchange Program

Would you like to travel to China to learn about the Chinese research landscape?

Applications are open for the Australia-China Young Researchers Exchange Program (YREP) which supports the travelling costs of up to 16 Australian participants to visit a research institution in China for two weeks in September 2013.

Applications close 16 June 2013. Detailed information for Australian applicants is available here.



The Director’s Colloquium – Research School of Physics and Engineering, Australian National University

Thursday 6 June – Anthony Burkitt, Bionic Vision Australia: The quest to restore vision for the blind with medical bionics: The Bionic Vision Australia research program

Research School of Physics and Engineering, Australian National University

Wednesday 5 June – Yvan Saint-Aubin, Universite de Montreal: Dilute loop models – some recent results

New South Wales

CSIRO Australia Telescope National Facility (ATNF), Marsfield

Friday 5 July – Mark Lacy, NRAO

Macquarie University Department of Physics & Astronomy – MQ Photonics Seminar Series

14 June – David Coutts, Macquarie University

School of Physics, University of Sydney

No departmental seminars currently listed. Check website for updates.

School of Physics, University of NSW

Tuesday 4 June – Bryan Gaensler, University of Sydney: Radio polarimetry and the magnetic Universe


Physics colloquia, University of Queensland

Friday 31 May – Debra Bernhardt
Friday 21 June – Matthew Cooper

South Australia

Chemical and Physical Sciences Seminar Series, Flinders University

Tuesday 4 June – Gordon Wallace, University of Wollongong: Nanofabrication for organic bionics

Tuesday 11 June – Robert Lamb, University of Melbourne: Making non-stick coatings out of thin air


Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing, Swinburne University

Thursday 27 June – Yin-Zhe Ma, University of British Columbia: The cosmic peculiar velocity field

Tuesday 2 July – Molly Peeples, University of California, Los Angeles

Thursday 4 July – Rob Crain, Leiden Observatory, Netherlands

Thursday 25 July – Leon Koopmans, Kapteyn Institute

Thursday 8 August – Gabor Worseck, MPIA

Thursday 5 September – Jesus Falcon Barroso, Instituto de Astrofisica de Cararias

Monash Centre for Astrophysics, Monash University

Tuesday 11 June – Daniela Huppenkothen, Astronomical Institute Anton Pannekoek, Amsterdam

Tuesday 2 July – Robert Crain, Leiden Observatory, Netherlands

Tuesday 30 July – Chiara Tonini, Swinburne

Tuesday 6 August – Ross Parkin, Australian National University

Tuesday 13 August – Laurens Keek, Michigan State University

Tuesday 20 August – David Nataf, RSAA/ANU

Thursday 7 November – Kai Zuber, Dresden

School of Physics, University of Melbourne

No departmental seminars currently listed. Check website for updates.

Western Australia

Department of Physics, University of Western Australia

No departmental seminars currently listed. Check website for updates.


6th Chaotic Modeling and Simulation International Conference
11 – 14 Jun 2013, Istanbul, Turkey

10th Annual Meeting of the Asia Oceania Geosciences Society
24 – 28 Jun 2013, Brisbane, Qld

12th Asia-Pacific Physics Conference
14 – 19 July, Chiba, Japan

Nuclear Energy for Australia?
25 – 26 July, Powerhouse Museum, Sydney

21st International Symposium on Plasma Chemistry (ISPC 21)
4 – 9 Aug 2013, Cairns, Qld

Italian National Conference on Condensed Matter Physics, FisMat 2013
9 – 13 Sep 2013, Milan, Italy

4th World Conference on Science and Technology Education (World STE)
29 Sep – 3 Oct, Sarawak Malaysia

Australasian Radiation Protection Society (ARPS) Conference
13 – 16 Oct 2013, Cairns, Qld
Abstract submission is open until 27 May and registration opens 1 May

NEW Healthy, Wealthy and Safe: Metrology Society of Australia 12th Biennial National Conference
15 – 17 Oct 2013, Sydney

Engineering and Physical Sciences in Medicine conference, EPSM 2013
3 Nov – 7 Nov, Perth, WA

ANZ Conference on Optics & Photonics
8 – 11 Dec 2013, Fremantle, WA

23rd Australian Conference on Microscopy and Microanalysis (ACMM23) and the International Conference on Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (ICONN 2014)
2 – 6 Feb 2014, Adelaide, SA

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


Dr Rob Robinson

President of the Australian Institute of Physics
Phone: +61 (2) 9717-9204

Contributions and contact details

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

  • Rob Robinson, AIP President
  • the AIP website for more information is (note this is a new site – don’t get stuck in the old one at
  • membership enquiries to the Secretariat
  • 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 Margie Beilharz 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 Margie, as above)
  • to receive these bulletins, please email Margie, 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,