AIP President’s blog

Katie Mack tour dates; have your say on 2018 Congress program; fusion, funding, honours; and more – Physics in July

Professor Andrew PeeleInterim Director, Australian SynchrotronThis year’s much-anticipated Women in Physics lecture tour will see Dr Katie Mack undertake a massive schedule of talks at schools and universities across the country this July and August.

The tour includes a public lecture in most states and territories titled “Everything you wanted to know about Dark Matter but were afraid to ask”. So, bookmark the scheduled dates listed in this month’s bulletin to have all your questions about Dark Matter and the mysteries of the Universe answered by one of Australia’s most inspiring women in physics.

In fact, July sees a feast of public lectures across the country, many of them also listed in this bulletin. Which serves as a timely reminder – if you have an event that is physics related we’re happy to promote it for you. All you have to do is Submit Your Event to the Australian physics calendar via the link on the AIP website. We’ll then include it in this bulletin and promote it via our social media too, on Facebook and Twitter.

While there is much to anticipate there has also been much to celebrate – this edition of the bulletin reports on physicists recognised in the Queen’s birthday honours and recent grant and award successes from members of the AIP and the Australian physics community. Which just goes to show that it is not just July that is a great month in physics – every month has something for physicists in the AIP.

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

Andrew Peele
President, Australian Institute of Physics
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Perth 2018, the AIP Congress heads west; success in physics education; events, prizes and more: Physics in June

Australian Institute of Physics members can look forward to some exciting activities in the times ahead.

In thisProfessor Andrew PeeleInterim Director, Australian Synchrotron bulletin, we announce that the 2018 AIP Congress will be held in Perth. More on that below.

But in the meantime, the inaugural Summer Meeting of the Australian Institute of Physics will be hosted by the University of New South Wales from 3 – 8 December 2017.

This meeting will be a cheaper version of our major biennial congress held in the between years. With its lower registration costs it will be more accessible to members, particularly students and early-career physicists. Although cheaper, we’ll still be delivering a comprehensive science program, covering the same range of topics as the full Congress. For more information follow the conference webpage at

We also have an exciting opportunity for the right member wanting the right challenge to become the next Editor of our bi-monthly Australian Physics journal. What better way could there be to get a ringside seat on the latest developments in Australian physics? If you’re interested in the role please email myself or current editor Brian James ( for more details.

And for two of our AIP members in particular, some very exciting times.

Congratulations to Dr Maria Parappilly – physics lecturer at Flinders University and head of the AIP’s Physics Education Group – on winning an International award in Teaching Innovation (Physics). She will travel to Halifax, Nova Scotia in Canada to receive her award in June.

Also to Professor Susan Scott who has been selected to join an international team of 80 women for the Homeward Bound 2018 program. This 12-month leadership program aims to heighten the impact of women with a science background in order to influence policy and decision making as it shapes our planet over the next decade and culminates in a 3-week female expedition to Antarctica in February-March 2018. We look forward to hearing about her experience on her return.

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

Andrew Peele
President, Australian Institute of Physics

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

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

Kind regards,

Andrew Peele
President, Australian Institute of Physics

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Katie Mack is the 2017 Women in Physics lecturer; space films & podcasts; physics prizes; and more – Physics in April

Professor Andrew PeeleInterim Director, Australian SynchrotronOne of the special things an organisation like the AIP can do is to support people doing wonderful things for physics. One way we do this is through the Women in Physics lecture tour, which celebrates the contribution of women to advances in physics. Under this scheme, a woman who has made a significant contribution in a field of physics is selected to present lectures in venues arranged by each participating state branch of the AIP.

The AIP has been running the Women in Physics lecture series since 1997 and this edition of the bulletin introduces a new Women in Physics lecturer—Dr Katie Mack—who is not only doing world-leading research but is also an inspired and effective communicator. More on Katie below.

Another important way to support physics is by being informed about issues that affect our discipline, and science more broadly, and by being prepared to advocate for science. Some of our members have taken this to heart and have decided to join in the March for Science on April 22.  The AIP endorses the March objectives. More below on how you can be involved.

While on the topic of being informed, the Australian Government has recently released its National Science Statement, which sets out a framework to guide investment and decision making in the longer term. The document is part of a process to formulate and support a strategic plan for the innovation, science and research system to 2030. I encourage all AIP members to be aware of and to have opinions about the National Science Statement. More on this below.

Being informed and part of all these areas, 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

Kind regards,

Andrew Peele
President, Australian Institute of Physics

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Welcoming a new committee; a review of the Physics Decadal Plan; physics prizes; and more: Physics in March

Professor Andrew PeeleInterim Director, Australian SynchrotronThere is a lot to be excited about in physics and the Australian Institute of Physics in 2017. We have some new members and people in new roles on the AIP executive committee this year and I am delighted to welcome them to the team. We are looking forward to exploring physics in Australia throughout the year and bringing it to this audience. More on the new committee below.

I recently had the pleasure of writing my first president’s column for the Australian Physics magazine and there is nothing like reflecting on what we do as an organisation to bring the inherent strength and value of the AIP into focus.

We are an institute that has a rich tradition of promoting, protecting and practicing physics and Australian Physics is a great example of this. Under the guiding hand of Brian James, this magazine is a fascinating mix of physics from around the country and provides real insight into the varied research and achievements of our colleagues.  [continue reading…]

A new President; ARC Centre jobs; prizes; and other opportunities in 2017 – Physics in February

Warrick Couch imageThis month, I’d like to welcome the new President—not Donald Trump, but our new AIP President Professor Andrew Peele.

Andrew has been the Director of the Australian Synchrotron since 2013 and is also a Professor of Physics at La Trobe University. With his leading role in science and experience in research facility management, as well as his past life as a lawyer, I know that the AIP will be in great hands and I look forward to working with Andrew in my role as Immediate Past President. You can read more about Andrew below.

For my part, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time as President, helping to modernise the AIP, attract more members, and raise the profile of Australian physics in the national science policy domain and throughout the Asia-Pacific region. For the latter, one of the highlights has been holding the very first joint AIP Congress and Asia-Pacific Physics Conference in Brisbane in December. This brought together 850 attendees including ~250 from the Asia-Pacific region—the highlights of which were covered in our special January Bulletin.

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Summer reading: Physics Congress special edition

Welcome to 2017, and to a special edition of the AIP Bulletin where we are sharing with you some of the great stories from the Joint 13th Asia-Pacific Physics Conference and 22nd AIP Physics Congress (APPC-AIPC), held in Brisbane in December.

We also introduce the winners of last year’s AIP Prizes, who received their awards and medals at the Congress. More below.  [continue reading…]

Physics Congress kicks off – Physics in December

Warrick Couch imageAs I write,  we are in the first full day of the Joint Physics Congress  in Brisbane. This week over 100 Australian and Asia-Pacific physicists will be presenting their research. The stellar cast of international physicists includes Nobel Laureate Takaaki Kajita, LIGO head David Reitze, experimental quantum physicist Alain Aspect, Korean government science advisor Youngah Park, and fusion researcher Jean Jacquinot. [continue reading…]

Nobel-winning topology and your chance to get involved: Physics in November

Warrick Couch imageWe are now on the final countdown to the joint Asia-Pacific Physics Conference and AIP Congress in Brisbane, with just five weeks to go before it kicks off on 4 December. The full program containing an outstanding mix of plenary, keynote, invited and contributed talks has now been released, many of which will be given by physicists from the Asia-Pacific region. It is still not too late to register.

As usual, October was a big month in physics. Congratulations to US physicists David Thouless, Duncan Haldane, and Michael Kosterlitz, who were awarded the 2016 Nobel Prize in Physics “for theoretical discoveries of topological phase transitions and topological phases of matter”.  We take a peek at some Australian research in this area of topological phase transitions later in this bulletin.

Closer to home, congratulations to physicists Michelle Simmons and Lloyd Hollenberg, whose work in quantum computing has been recognised by the L’Oréal-UNESCO for Women in Science Award and the Royal Society of Victoria’s 2016 Medal for Excellence in Scientific Research, respectively. Congratulations also to physicist Colin Hall from UniSA, who won the inaugural Prime Minister’s “New Innovator” Prize for leading the invention of the highly successful plastic automotive mirror.

As we near the end of the year, state AIP branches are holding their AGMs, and I encourage you to get along and engage with the championing of physics in your area. (See the full list below.) You may also consider becoming one of our office bearers or committee members to help the AIP promote physics in research, education, industry and the community.

Guests are also welcome to the AGMs, and to the interesting talks accompanying them. If you have colleagues or friends who are interested in physics, bring them along. [continue reading…]

New physics research centres, and Congress deadline extended: physics in October

warrickIt is an exciting time for Australian physics research, with five of the new ARC Centres of Excellence announced in September being in physics and astronomy. We briefly outline these four Centres later in this bulletin.

The Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, Greg Hunt, delivered his Innovation speech this month at the AFR National Innovation Summit. I encourage you to read this speech (linked to below) and vision for the next waves of the National Innovation and Science Agenda, including the strong, simple message: “innovation is about both old and new businesses”.

There is also more below regarding Minister Hunt’s announcements about CSIRO and more funding for quantum computing.

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