Research funding cuts; and planets not for sale – physics in May 2013

AIP President’s blog, Australian Institute of Physics
Research funding cuts; and planets not for sale – physics in May 2013 post image

From Rob Robinson, President of the Australian Institute of Physics

It is clear that the coming financial year is going to be much tougher for research in Australia, particularly with the Federal Budget coming up on 14 May.

The Federal Government announced $2.3 billion in cuts to the university sector on 14 April. The AIP is a member of Science & Technology Australia, and is working with them to respond to the cuts.

Prof Michael Holland, President of STA, responded to the announcement as follows:

“We represent 68,000 people working in science and technology across Australia. Dr Emerson’s announcement that $2.3 billion will be slashed from Universities to contribute to school reforms, is profoundly disappointing. The cuts will have a direct effect on the day-to-day work of Australia’s Science and Technology workforce, who fuel national productivity and innovation.

“Cutting universities to fund schools just doesn’t make sense. It is counterproductive, short-term policy making at its worst. It is difficult to predict how universities will extract the savings from already stretched budgets, but one thing is certain, the cuts will damage the quality of education and research they can provide. This will hurt students and the nation.”

I urge AIP members and others with an interest in physics to contact candidates for the upcoming Federal Election to discuss their concerns related to science, particularly physics.

I’d also like to remind you to complete the 2013 Science & Technology Australia/Association of Professional Engineers, Scientists and Managers, Australia Professional Scientist Remuneration Survey if you haven’t already done so. The survey is online here and it closes on Monday 6 May.

This survey, now in its sixth year, is unique in Australia and is building up an important body of data that lets us look at trends in employment and remuneration. The results from the survey greatly assist STA, its members and the science sector more broadly.

And in events around the country, the NSW AIP is offering AIP members and the public the chance to tour ANSTO’s Opal reactor at Lucas Heights this month, along with a public talk on the chemistry of the nucleus.

If you’re in Melbourne this week, you can catch Professor Rafael Guzman from the University of Florida presenting the first scientific results from the world’s largest optical telescope, the Gran Telescopio de Canarias in Spain. The telescope will tell us more about the birth of the universe and help detect new planets.

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

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In this bulletin:

AIP events

NSW:   Joseph Bevitt: The chemistry of the nucleus
Tuesday 14 May, 6pm – NSW AIP Branch May Meeting, public lecture and tour of ANSTO’s Opal reactor
ANSTO Discovery Centre, New Illawarra Rd, Lucas Heights

            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

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

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

TAS:     Peter Strutton, Integrated Marine Observing System, public lecture
AIP Tas Branch meeting
Tuesday 28 May, 8pm

VIC:     AIP Vic Branch Education Committee meeting
Tuesday 14 May, 5pm – for teachers
Kew High School (non-members welcome) – contact the chair, Sue Grant for confirmation

WA:     Physics in Industry night, wine and cheese
Wednesday 22 May (to be confirmed)

            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)

ACT Branch physics video competition

Following on from last year’s “Frame your Physics” competition, the ACT branch will again run the competition in 2013 to promote the communication of physics to a general audience. The idea is to make a three-minute video that presents physics topic to a general audience in an entertaining and informative way. There will be various prizes up for grabs including for high school students, schools and also for university students. More information will follow.

Books for review

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

There are four books available for review:

  • Ignorance: How it drives science, Stuart Firestein, Oxford University Press
  • Inside the Photon – A Journey to Health , Tony Fleming & Elizabeth Bauer, Pan Stanford
  • The Long Road to Stockholm: The Story of Magnetic Resonance Imaging – An Autobiography, Peter Mansfield, Oxford University Press
  • Lessons from Nanoelectronics A New Perspective on Transport, Supriyo Datta, World Scientific

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


Rafael Guzman, University of Florida: The “Gran Telescopio de Canarias” (GTC) – first light of the largest optical telescope on Earth
Friday 3 May, 6.30pm – public lecture
Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing, Swinburne University of Technology

Jonathan Whitmore, Swinburne University of Technology: Understanding our weird Universe: common sense won’t save you
Friday 17 May, 6.30pm – public lecture
Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing, Swinburne University of Technology

Syed Uddin, Swinburne University of Technology: The dark Universe
Tuesday 9 July, 6.30pm – public lecture
Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing, Swinburne University of Technology

Western Australia

University Physics Society Quiz Night
Thursday 2 May, 7-8pm, University of Western Australia

Planet naming rights not for sale


An artist’s impression of an exoplanet seen from its moon

An artist’s impression of an exoplanet seen from its moon. Credit: IAU


The International Astronomical Union (IAU) has reaffirmed that rights to name planets are not for sale.

The IAU released a statement saying that schemes offering the possibility of buying the rights to name exoplanets have no bearing on the official naming process.

Recently, an organisation has invited the public to purchase both nomination proposals for exoplanets, and rights to vote for the suggested names. In return, the purchaser receives a certificate commemorating the validity and credibility of the nomination.

“Such certificates are misleading, as these campaigns have no bearing on the official naming process — they will not lead to an officially-recognised exoplanet name, despite the price paid or the number of votes accrued,” the statement says.

“The IAU wholeheartedly welcomes the public’s interest to be involved in recent discoveries, but would like to strongly stress the importance of having a unified naming procedure.”

The full version of the IAU’s press release and is available here.

And there’s an article in Scientific American here.

New physics blog

The UK’s Institute of Physics (IOP) has launched a new blog, physicsfocus, giving people interested in physics a chance to publicly participate in discussions that are underway at the heart of the physics community.

Contributors include professor, author and broadcaster Jim Al-Khalili OBE (@jimalkhalili), Rutherford Appleton Laboratory researcher Suzie Sheehy (@suziesheehy) and Andy Newsam (@AstroAndyN), Professor of Astronomy Education and Engagement at Liverpool John Moores University.

In the first of his regular blog posts for physicsfocus, Striking a balance between science and communication, Jim reflects on his own journey into science communication and offers advice to physicists who wish to follow in his footsteps.

With technology creating ever-greater opportunities for wider engagement and the recent increase in the public’s interest in physics, the Institute of Physics (IOP) introduces physicsfocus to host comment and analysis on a wide range of physics matters, from particles to policy, education to energy.


Awards and scholarships

Three $25,000 L’Oréal Australia and New Zealand For Women in Science Fellowships

L’Oréal will award three $25,000 Fellowships to women who have shown scientific excellence in the five years since finishing their PhD.

The one-year Fellowships can be used to help finance the scientific research and also for child care or hiring a research assistant to cover maternity leave.

Applications close at midnight on Monday 6 May 2013 and will only be accepted via the online form.

Click here for information on how to apply.

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 a second round of the Australia-China Young Researchers Exchange Program (YREP).

The YREP program aims to:

  • facilitate future long-term science and research collaboration between Australia and China by bringing together future research leaders from both countries in order to foster long-term relationships; and
  • develop early and mid-career Australian and Chinese researchers by increasing their understanding of the cultures, and particularly the science and research practices and systems, of the two countries and developing their leadership skills as future “science ambassadors” for Australia and China.

The scheme supports the costs of up to 16 Australian participants travelling to China in September, 2013. Each Australian participant will be funded for eligible exchange costs, including return airfares from Australia to China, accommodation and meals costs, and domestic travel during their two-week stay in  China.

The program is open to early to mid-career researchers who are Australian citizens or Australian permanent residents, and employed by an Australian research institution (including universities, publicly-funded research agencies and research-intensive businesses). An “early to mid-career researcher” is defined as a researcher who has had between three and 10 years of research experience since the award of his/her PhD (or equivalent research qualification).

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

United Uranium Scholarship

The United Uranium Scholarship is open to “promising young scientists” in the field of nuclear energy who want to extend their development in nuclear science and technology.

The applicant must be an Australian citizen who works or studies at an Australian organisation or institution.

The recipient of the scholarship will receive up to A$6,000.

There is more information online here.

The application form can be downloaded here (pdf).

And there are guidelines here.

Applications close Wednesday 22 May, 2013.

The United Uranium Trust Fund was established in 1966 for ‘the promotion and encouragement of scientific research and education in the field of atomic energy’. In accordance with the Deed, the United Uranium Scholarship is awarded to ‘promising young scientists’ from any Australian organisation or institution whose research or work is in the field of nuclear energy.

Adelaide student wins international space art competition

Former SA Space School and National Space Camp student Adelyne Huynh has won an international award.

Adelyne, 18, received a 1st Place Overall Award in the International Humans in Space Youth Art Competition. She’ll travel to Cologne, Germany as part of her prize, where her work will be showcased at an international symposium. She’ll also tour the European Astronaut Centre.

Adelyne is the only Australian to receive a prize in her category.

There is more information about the competition and full listings of winners here.


Professional scientist remuneration survey

The Association of Professional Engineers, Scientists and Managers, Australia (APESMA) is currently undertaking the 2013 STA /APESMA Professional Scientist Remuneration Survey.

This is the only survey of its kind in Australia, and now in its 6th year, it’s building an important body of data that allows for trend analysis. The Association is seeking professional scientists’ assistance by completing the 10-minute questionnaire.

A summary of the survey results will be available on the APESMA and Science & Technology Australia websites later in the year.

The survey is online here. It closes on Monday 6 May, 2013.

If you require further information or clarification, please contact Dominic Angerame, Surveys Unit, APESMA on (03) 9695 8835 or

Physics education researchers sought for input into Fostering Learning Improvements in Physics project

The University of Edinburgh is asking physics education researches to participate in an online survey.

The survey will provide data for the Fostering Learning Improvements in Physics project, which is studying the prevalence and impact of physics education research in Australia and internationally.

The project is based at the University of Edinburgh and has been jointly commissioned by the Institute of Physics and the Economic and Social Research Council (UK).

One of the project’s goals is to characterise the physics education research landscape internationally (for example, what research is done, who funds it) and to seek evidence that research can lead to improved teaching and learning of undergraduate physics.

Physics education researchers in Europe and Australia are invited to complete the survey to complement existing data collected in the US.

Anyone who has done research into physics education at any level in the past decade is urged to participate.

Full details of the project are available online here.

The survey itself is online here and closes Tuesday 7 May.


New South Wales

CSIRO Australia Telescope National Facility (ATNF), Marsfield

Wednesday 1 May – Ciriaco Goddi

Wednesday 22 May – Michele Pestalozzi, IAPS/INAF

School of Physics, University of New South Wales

Tuesday 7 May – Lawrence Lee, Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute


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 30 April – Bradley Simpson, Flinders Centre for Innovation in Cancer: Harnessing the pharmacological potential of Northern Kaanju Indigenous medicinal plants

Tuesday 7 May – Gordon Wallace, University of Wollongong

Tuesday 14 May – Colin Raston, Flinders University

Tuesday 14 May – Nitesh Soni, University of Adelaide

Thursday 16 May – Keith Stubbs, University of Western Australia

Tuesday 28 May – Yuning Hong, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology: Aggregation-Induced Emission: Fluorescent Materials for Chemosensing and Bioimaging


Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing, Swinburne University

Tuesday 30 April – Giulia Savorgnan, Swinburne: Six-month review

Thursday 2 May – Krzysztof Bolejko, University of Sydney: The bright and dark side of cosmic voids – a new window into dark matter and dark energy

Thursday 16 May – Lisa Harvey-Smith, CSIRO

Thursday 20 June – Yin-Zhe Ma, University of British Columbia

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

Thursday 4 July – Rob Crain, Leiden Observatory, Netherlands

Monash Centre for Astrophysics, Monash University

Tuesday 30 April – Sarah Maddison, Swinburne University of Technology: Debris disks: the missing link between dust and planets

Tuesday 7 May– Sergiy Shelyag, Monash University: Radiative MHD modelling of the solar photosphere

Tuesday 14 May– Mark Phillips, Las Campanas Observatory, Chile

Thursday 16 May – Lisa Harvey-Smith, CSIRO: The Australian SKA Pathfinder (ASKAP) and the SKA: Community Update

Tuesday 21 May – Jan Staff, Macquarie University: Simulating astrophysical jets

Tuesday 28 May – Katherine Mack, University of Melbourne

Tuesday 4 June – Ross Parkin, Australian National University

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

School of Physics, University of Melbourne

Tuesday 30 April – Daniel Price, Monash University: The dining habits of black holes

Tuesday 7 May – Giordano Scappucci, University of New South Wales: Doping of semiconductors today: new research avenues using an old trick

Tuesday 14 May – Alex Babanin, Swinburne University of Technology: Ocean waves, physics and engineering, extremes and norm

Tuesday 21 May – Kylie Catchpole, Australian National University

Tuesday 28 May – Chris Vale, Swinburne University of Technology

Western Australia

Department of Physics, University of Western Australia

No departmental seminars currently listed. Check website for updates.


17th International Conference on the Use of Computers in Radiation Therapy
6 – 9 May 2013, Melbourne, Vic

CRCA Collaborate | Innovate | 2013 Conference – the Cooperative Research Centres Association conference
15 – 17 May 2013, Melbourne, Vic

Science at the Shine Dome – Power to the people – Australian Academy of Science conference
29 – 31 May, 2013, Canberra, ACT

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

10th Annual Meeting of the Asia Oceania Geosciences Society
14 – 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

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

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

ANZ Conference on Optics & Photonics
8 – 11 Dec 2013, Fremantle, WA (NB. This is in December, not October as was originally emailed)

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,