Summer Meeting underway; PhD and post-doc opportunities; and more – Physics in December

AIP President’s blog, Australian Institute of Physics
Professor Andrew Peele Director, Australian Synchrotron

Professor Andrew Peele
Director, Australian Synchrotron

In this edition of the AIP’s monthly email bulletin, we extend  a very warm welcome to the committee members elected at  recent the recent state branch AGMs.

The AIP is active through its branches, and a wide network of volunteer physicists keep the business of the Institute moving smoothly. I hope you’ll join me in welcoming our new committee members, as well as acknowledging everyone who has worked to keep the AIP moving from strength to strength in 2017.
Speaking of volunteers, they are also running the first AIP Summer Meeting now underway. A good turnout from students is already making the meeting a success and I look forward to returning to Sydney on Wednesday to hear more about the latest developments in physics across Australia. More on that below. 

National meetings like this are a great way for students (as well as those of us who are no longer students) to make connections, and to find out about employment prospects around the country. Not coincidentally, the Summer Meeting is held at the time of year that universities start thinking of recruiting, and to help that process there are plenty of job opportunities in this bulletin.

Finally, we offer our congratulations to Professor Judith Dawes on her appointment to the role of Treasurer of Science & Technology Australia (STA). We also extend our sincere thanks to outgoing STA President Professor Jim Piper, Walter Boas medalist and long-time stalwart of the Australian physics community, for his unfailing and enthusiastic advocacy of Australian science throughout his Presidency.

And read on to find out how you can make use of the AIP’s association with STA to get your voice heard in the “Halls of Power” in Canberra next February.


Andrew Peele
President, Australian Institute of Physics

Summer Meeting

Listening to stars, fuzzy spacetime, and back to basics for physics education – the AIP’s inagural Summer Meeting gets underway

This week physicists from across the country, from professors to undergraduates, have converged on the University of New South Wales for six days of sun (hopefully) and science.

Undergraduates kicked off proceedings with a poster session and symposium on Sunday, highlighting the best the youngest among us have to offer.

Monday marked the start of the conference proper, and we heard about the relative virtues of contextualised physics education versus a ‘back to basics’ approach; hunting for primordial black holes in the afterglow of creation; deciphering the history of the galaxy by ‘listening’ to stars; and using gravitational waves to figure out just how fuzzy spacetime really is.

But more physics fun still lies ahead. If you’re at the conference and tweeting please include the handles @AusPhysics and @aip2017 so we can share the excitement with those marooned in Australia’s rainier corners. We’ll be keeping up steady coverage throughout the Summer Meeting so be sure to tune in.

Here are some highlights to look out for:

  • CQC2T: Atomic-precision Spatial Metrology Of Single And Two Si:p Qubits, 1:20 Tuesday
  • Bao Tran, Victor Flambaum, Julian Berengut: Enhanced Density Of Light Dark Matter Near Compact Astronomical Objects, 9:00 Wednesday
  • Jodie Bradbury chairs: Equity and Diversity Session (WiP), 3:20 Wednesday
  • Panel discussion: Quantum Microscopy: Towards Native-state Observation Of The Machinery Of Life, 11:00 Thursday

You can find the full program, complete with abstracts, here.

Physics in the Pub – scientists let their hair down and everyone’s invited

Phil Dooley’s legendary Physics in the Pub is back, capping off a packed program of talks on the AIP Summer Meeting’s second day. On Tuesday evening, conference attendees, physics, and members of the general public are invited for a night learning, laughter, and what only Phil would dare to dub ‘physics phun’.

There’ll be experiments, comedy, songs and poetry, from astronomers, nuclear and quantum physicists: six short presentations woven together by your energetic MC in a relaxed environment with plenty of warming beverages.

This time around, the event will be held at the Coach and Horses Hotel, 147 Avoca St., Randwick, next to the racecourse (fascinators are welcome.) It’s the last one for the year so didn’t miss it.

AIP News

AGM season – meet the new AIP committees in NSW and WA

November was AGM season. AIP branches across the country celebrated the year gone by, made plans for the year ahead, listened to scintillating talks, and elected new committees.

The NSW branch AGM was a typically packed affair, with plenty of prizes handed out along the way:

  • Winner of the AIP-NSW Postgraduate Presentation
    Elette Engels, PhD student, University of Wollongong
    New Advances in Nanoparticle-Enhanced, Image-Guided Microbeam Radiation Therapy
  • Winner of the Royal Society of NSW Jak Kelly Award
    Moritz Merklein, University of Sydney
    A chip integrated optical buffer based on hyper-sound waves
  • Winner of the Australian Institute of Physics NSW Community Outreach to Physics Award
    Dr Ragbir Bathal, Western Sydney University

The NSW also elected a swag of new office bearers:

  • Chair – Frederick Osman
  • Vice Chair – Graeme Melville
  • Secretary – Matthew Arnold
  • Treasurer – Phil Burns
  • Committee – Robert Raposio, Erin Munn, Timothy Van der Laan, Scott Martin, and Michael Lerch

The WA branch enjoyed a talk by Andy Kraynik on foam micromechanics, before electing their new office bearers:

  • Chair – Gerd Schröder-Turk
  • Vice Chair – Dean Leggo
  • Secretary – Andrea F. Biondo
  • Treasurer – Elaine Walker
  • Committee – Kirsten Emory Tristan Ward, Philipp Schönhöfer, Kathryn Wilson, Justin Freeman, Loughlan Weatherly, Diana Tomazos, John Chapman, and Marjan Zadnik

The Queensland AIP held their AGM on 25 November, featuring a reprisal of Dr Johnathon Horner’s John Mainstone Youth lecture tour presentation, Rocks from Space, while Tasmania enjoyed a presentation by fusion guru John Howard. The South Australian AIP got stuck into radioactive waste management at their AGM, while Victoria enjoyed Michael Fuhrer’s take on the condensed matter physics behind this year’s Nobel Prize for Physics.

And the AIP will hold its national AGM in February

The 2018 AIP Council Meeting and AGM will be held at RMIT city campus in Melbourne on February 15 & 16 2018. If you wish to provide a report or comments to be tabled at the meeting, please contact the AIP Honorary Secretary, Kirrily Rule ( for more details.

Physics news & opportunities

Science & Technology Australia announces new executive

Science and Technology Australia have elected their new committee, with outgoing president Professor Jim Piper to be replaced by Professor Emma Johnston, one of Australia’s leading marine scientists and science broadcasters.

Physics got a seat at the table too, with Macquarie University optical physicist Professor Judith Dawes taking over as Treasurer. Judith joins fellow physicists Alan Duffy and Cathy Foley who are already serving on the Executive.

Science and Technology Australia is the nation’s peak body in science and technology, promoting the sector’s work with government, industry and the general public. From its Canberra-based headquarters, STA serves as a respected and influential contributor to debate on public policy, providing a strong voice for Australia’s roughly 70,000 scientists and technologists from every discipline.

At the STA General Meeting where the elections were held, Professor Johnston congratulated Jim Piper before articulating her enthusiasm for the coming year:

“We have an outstanding leadership team to take us to the next federal election, where we will be unabashed about promoting the value of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.”

Plus, your chance to engage with Canberra

As well as their new board, STA have also just opened nominations for Science Meets Parliament 2018.

Science meets Parliament offers science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) professionals the chance to build a profile for their important work as we approach another federal election cycle.

Attendees at last year’s event described it as “a fantastic opportunity to see the inside operation of our Government”, “a rewarding experience” and “very motivational and educational”.

The event will be held on 13 & 14 February 2018 and includes a day of professional development, a gala dinner in the Great Hall of Parliament, a televised National Press Club lunch, and a day at Parliament House, where delegates meet privately in small groups of 3 – 5 with parliamentarians, attend a parliamentary forum and finally a farewell networking cocktails with the Parliamentary Friends of Science.

As a member organisation the AIP can send two delegates. If you are interested in attending SmP in 2018 please send an Expression of Interest to AIP Secretary Kirrily Rule, The AIP will cover your registration for the event, travel will be at your own expense, but well worth the investment.

You can read about the experience Martin White had last year in this past newsletter.

Crack quantum and change the world – big opportunities on offer at CQC2T

The world’s leading team in silicon-based quantum computing opens 20 new positions

Do you want to be in the room when the first quantum computer comes online? Join the team that leads the world in one of the great scientific challenges of our age.

The Centre for Quantum Computation and Communication Technology (CQC2T) is growing. They’re calling for more than 20 researchers, engineers, and technicians to join their new laboratory at UNSW, Sydney.

The roles on offer span the fields physics, computing, and engineering. Staff roles boast a six-figure salary with generous benefits. PhD positions also offer highly attractive rates. If you think you could be a fit in any of the below, don’t wait – apply now:

Staff roles

  • Microwave engineer
  • Multi-qubit device physicist
  • Scanning probe scientist for atomic electronics
  • MBE expert for atomic electronics
  • Quantum computing laboratory manager
  • FPGA and RF electronics technical engineer
  • CMOS interface
  • Analogue quantum processor
  • Isotopically enriched epitaxial growth
  • Cavity development
  • Qubit cavity coupling
  • Silicon device modelling & design engineer
  • Solid state physicist (theory & modelling)
  • Silicon nanoelectronics process development engineer
  • Experimental scientist/engineer (solid state quantum devices)
  • Exchange-based multi-qubit gates
  • Nanofabrication/process development
  • Flip-flop qubits
  • Software developer/FPGA programmer
  • Circuit-QED with single spins

PhD positions

  • Silicon quantum computation and atomic electronics (6 PhDs on offer)
  • Silicon quantum computation and cavity coupling (2 PhDs on offer)
  • Analogue silicon quantum computation and simulation
  • Silicon quantum computation with focus on epitaxial growth
  • Interfacing a silicon quantum processor with classical CMOS
  • Long-distance cavity coupling of single-atom qubits in silicon
  • Medium-scale quantum computer hardware development

Find all the details here:

Think big in 2018: postdocs on offer across Australia

Universities across Australia are looking for postdocs to join them as they hunt for gravitational waves, chart the evolution of distant galaxies, and observe the birth of the very first stars. If you’re the kind of researcher who loves tackling the big questions, these positions are perfect for you:

Trip the Light Fantastic with Swinburne’s last astronomy lecture of 2017

So much of what we know about the universe has travelled to us on a beam of light. We can’t travel to a star and pull one apart to see how it works. Instead, astronomers use light and the stories it tells to piece together our understanding of the universe.

Join Dr Tanya Hill of Museums Victoria for Swinburne’s last Free Astronomy Lecture of the year, 8 December 6:30 – 7:30 at the Hawthorn campus, and learn what light can teach us about the cosmos we call come.

Book here

UNSW Ferroelectrics Summer School – Feb 5 to 9 2018

UNSW has announced a ferroelectrics summer school for February 2018.

It’s an opportunity for researchers at any stage of their careers to learn the ropes and join the wider Asia-Pacific ferro-electric community, all while enjoying the famous charms of an Australian summer in Sydney.

UNSW-SSF 2018, running February 5-9, 2018, will focus on fundamental science as well as cutting edge and emerging applications. It will cover basic concepts of ferroelectricity, intended for researchers and students who are new to the field, and gradually move towards advanced concepts.

Fundamental notions of ferroelectricity, piezoelectricity, and multiferroics will be covered, followed by more specific topics such as thin films, interfaces, domain walls and key advanced characterization and computational techniques. To assist participant learning, laboratory demonstrations and experiments will constitute approximately 30 per cent of the content.

Finally, networking opportunities will be offered through a range of social activities, including a welcome reception and trivia night.

Registration is open now at

The deadline is 15 December 2017 but early application is strongly advised as attendance is strictly limited.

IONS KOALA Conference – highlights of Australia’s largest student-run physics event

It’s a bumper time of year for conferences. Before the AIP Summer Meeting got underway in Sydney, IONS KOALA came to Brisbane, uniting physics students from across the country for six days of exciting and imaginative talks.

IONS KOALA brings together the annual conference of the International Optical Society of Australia Networks of Students (IONS) and the Conference on Optics, Atoms, and Laser Applications (That’s the KOALA part). Its goal is to bring together a large groups of Honours, Masters and PhD students currently conducting research in any field of optics, atoms and laser applications in Australia, New Zealand and the world.

KOALA encompasses a broad variety of topics within the field of optics and photonics. These include but are not limited to atomic, molecular and optical physics, quantum optics, spectroscopy, micro and nanofabrication, biomedical imaging, metrology, nonlinear optics and laser physics research. Most attendees are at the very beginning of their careers, so the annual conference is a great way to discover a wide range of possible directions within the world of optics and photonics.

This year’s attendees were treated to keynote talks from quantum guru Howard Wiseman, medical biophotonics expert Denise Zezell, research director at Optimax Systems Jessica DeGroote Nelson, and laser wrangler Andrew Forbes, in addition to 83 student participants presenting on everything from Bose-Einstein Condensates to the logic of quantum experimentation.

If you missed out this year, IONS KOALA will be back in 2018.

KOALA 2018

Contribution to study of gravitational waves wins Monash physicist Australian Academy of Science award

Dr Paul Lasky from the Monash University School of Physics and Astronomy has been awarded the Pawsey Medal from the Australian Academy of Science in recognition of his outstanding contributions to physics.

Paul’s research area is gravitational astrophysics, particularly the incipient field of gravitational waves. Paul’s contributions to the LIGO Scientific Collaboration and the Parkes Pulsar Timing Array have helped put Australia in the vanguard of this exciting new movement in astrophysics.

The Pawsey Medal recognises the contributions to science in Australia by the late Dr JL Pawsey, FAA. Its purpose is to recognise outstanding research in physics by scientists up to 10 years post-PhD in the calendar year of nomination, except in the case of significant interruptions to a research career. The award is made annually and is restricted to candidates who are normally resident in Australia and for research conducted mainly in Australia.

Manjula Sharma elected to IUPAP as Aussie representative

And finally, Professor Manjula Sharma has been elected as the Australian representative on IUPAP – the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics.

IUPAP is an international body with almost 100 years of heritage behind it. Its mission is to promote physics collaboration across borders through co-ordination of standards, free circulation of researchers, international meetings, and science advocacy.

Manjula Sharma is a leading researcher and advocate for physics education in Australia. She is a member of the Sydney University Physics Education Research Group, a pioneering thinktank in the field, and has previously been recognised by the AIP with the Australian Institute of Physics Education Medal.

Professor Sharma has also been voted in as a Member of Commission C14 on Physics Education of the IUPAP for a three-year term.

Aussie physics in the news

Nobel Prize in Physics: Australians helped in gravitational waves research (The Australian)

Science meets parliament at STA’s yearly event (COSMOS)

Two Incredible New Quantum Machines Have Made Actual Science Discoveries (Gizmodo)

50 Years Ago Today, Australia Launched Its First Satellite (Gizmodo)

Faraday cage: How a humble chip packet helped an electrician hide his absence from work (ABC)

World-leading scientist and teenage inventor among Australians of the Year (SMH)

WA education authorities concede error in physics exam but say it won’t affect Year 12 marks (The West)

Vale Neville Fletcher (ABC)

GPS satellites “the largest dark matter detector ever built” (COSMOS)

Students embrace virtual reality to better understand the galaxy (The Australian)

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

  • 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
  • Complex Light by Jeff Secor, Robert Alfano and Solyman Ashrafi
  • The Physics of Thermoelectric Energy Conversion by H Julian Goldsmid
  • Semiconductor Lasers: Stability, Instability and Chaos, 4th Edition by Junji Ohtsubo
  • Basics of Laser Physics by Karl F Renk
  • Lectures on General Relativity, Cosmology and Quantum Black Holes by Badis Ydri


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

[ACT] The Status of ITER – the fusion reactor development project
Wed, 6 Dec 2017, 2pm
60 Oliphant Building, Australian National University


[NSW] NSW secondary science teacher professional development day (December)
Fri, 8 Dec 2017, 9:25am
ANSTO Discovery Centre, New Illawarra Rd, Lucas Heights, NSW

[NSW] The Annual Summer School on Ferroelectrics (UNSW SSF 2018)
Mon, 5 Feb 2018, 9am
UNSW Sydney, Australia


There are no upcoming events.


There are no upcoming events.


There are no upcoming events.


[VIC] Selby Lecture, RMIT Uni, Melbourne City Campus, 5:30pm Friday 8th Dec 2017
Fri, 8 Dec 2017, 5:30pm
RMIT, Building 80, Level 4, Room 11


There are no upcoming events.

AIP event denotes AIP events


[VIC] Frontiers in Nanoplasmonics Workshop
Thu, 14 Dec 2017, 9am
Green Brain Conference Room

[ANU] 24th Canberra International Physics Summer School
Mon, 8 Jan 2018, 9am
60 Oliphant Building, Australian National University

[NSW] International Conference on Nanoscience and Nanotechnology
Mon, 29 Jan 2018
University of Wollongong

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

[NSW] The Annual Summer School on Ferroelectrics (UNSW SSF 2018)
Mon, 5 Feb 2018, 9am
UNSW Sydney, Australia

[VIC] 5th Asian and Oceanic Congress on Radiation Protection – AOCRP5
Sun, 20 May 2018
Melbourne Exhibition & Convention Centre

[NSW] 9th Vacuum and Surface Science Conference of Asia and Australia
Mon, 13 Aug 2018
SMC Function and Conference Centre

Contributions and contact details

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

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

You are being sent this bulletin as a member of the AIP.

Our mailing address is:

Australian Institute of Physics

PO Box 546

East MelbourneVic 3002