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organic research creates excitement for QLD students

The John Mainstone Youth Lecture Tour has wrapped up for another year after a successful tour!

Pegah poses for a self with the students of All Hallow’s School in Brisbane

Our 2019 John Mainstone Youth Lecturer was Dr. Pegah Maasoumi, a postdoctoral research fellow in the ARC Centre of Excellence in Exciton Science at the University of Melbourne. The John Mainstone Youth Lecture Tour took Pegah and her presentation: ‘My organic Research’, to 12 Queensland schools from the Sunshine Coast, Gladstone, Rockhampton, Brisbane to Toowoomba where she inspired and engaged the students with her exciting research and her journey as a scientist.

Pegah talked to more than 600 students in years 10-12, revealing the secrets behind foldable mobile phones, Ironman’s suit and next generation of solar windows. She told the story of her journey as a scientist and enlightened the students about the excitement and opportunities with a career as a Physicist.

All Hallow’s studens and teachers with Dr Pegah Maasoumi.

Pegah says: “no doubt, one of the highlights of my tour was the way students engaged with my research and story. The questions and ideas they shared during the talk, and all the promising feedback I got from their teachers, strongly suggest that they are considering science and Physics as career path. I am also very happy to be an organic example for them that a physicist is not just an old man with a fuzzy hair who works with forces. I like to think, they are now not picturing us as clumsy Big Bang Theory Physicists but more of capable Tony Stark version.”

With students from Padua College, Brisbane.

“Their questions totally blew my mind” Pegah said, “one of the very common questions was, ‘why are we not using solar more?’ and ‘still our politicians insist on burning coal?’ That question for me was pure joy to see. Not only are we promoting and fostering future scientists, but perhaps smarter politicians and better future for Australia.”

St Aidan’s Anglican School

Pegah believes the tour was very successful and nothing can be more effective than exposing our kids to living examples and questions out there. “I am absolutely grateful for this experience and I would love to see one of those bright girls as future John Mainstone Youth Lecturer and custodian of our worldwide famous pitch drop experiment.”

How Neutrons will save the world in brisbane

How Neutrons Will Save the World!

Women in Physics lecture Tour, 15th August, 2019.

This year’s Women in Physics Lecturer, Dr Helen Maynard-Casely is traveling around the country to tell us how neutrons will save the world! While in the area visiting schools, Helen will be at the University of Queensland, St Lucia campus on the 15th August talking to us about her research in more detail.

Where: Room 03-206

When: 1pm – 2pm 15th August, 2019.

We hope to see you there!

In the meantime, check out what Helen will be chatting about:

Exploring the materials of the solar system with Australia’s central facilities

Our solar system contains a great array of small planetary bodies that show remarkable variability in the chemistry, and subsequent materials, that form on their surfaces.  From sulfuric acid hydrates that are spattered on Europa, to organic minerals that fall in flurries on Titan to the plastic solids of methane and nitrogen on Pluto.

Sadly we’re yet to scoop any sample of these planets and bring them home, however informed by spectral observations from space missions such as Galileo, Cassini and New Horizons, we can re-create their surface chemistries and conditions in the lab.  What this has revealed that despite the ‘simplicity’ of the chemistry involved the surfaces are likely to be made up of a large array of materials with potentially planet-shaping properties. 

I’ll overview some of the materials we’ve found, and why central facilities (like the OPAL neutron source and Australian Synchrotron) have been crucial for this work.  Hopefully, I’ll also show how this is very much a growing business, and with new exoplanets being discovered daily there is still a wide range of materials that need to be investigated.    

Neutrons will save the world; physicists in the Eureka Awards; how to survive the end of the universe during National Science Week; and more physics in august

National Science Week is happening from August 10 to 18 and is packed with many wonderful physics events. We’ve selected some of the best physics events around the country and listed them below.

“How neutrons will save the world” is the topic of our 2019 Women in Physics lecture, given by Dr Helen Maynard-Casely from ANSTO. Helen has now begun her tour in Tasmania and after 36 talks all over Australia will finish at the Girls in Physics Breakfast in Melbourne on Wednesday 28 August. Good luck Helen! More below.

The AIP national executive team were at ANU last week for a packed two days of strategic planning, priority-setting and discussions. We are working on a strategic plan and new opportunities to promote all things physics in Australia. Stay tuned for more in the coming months.

Several physicists were announced last week as finalists for the 2019 Eureka Prizes. Read all about them here. Winners will be announced at the end of this month. Good luck to all finalists!

I really enjoyed the great posts on the AIP Instagram account from the Australians attending the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings in Germany last month. SBS journalist Lydia Feng also attended the meetings and wrote about the young women levelling out gender imbalance in science. Women comprised eight out of the 13 physicists chosen by the Australian Academy of Science to attend.

Also this month: Nominate for the 2019 NSW Community Outreach to Physics award, read about the speediest quantum operation yet, meet Registered Patent Attorney Matthew Lay – our August Hidden Physicist, and find an opportunity in our Jobs Corner.

Kind regards,
Jodie Bradby
President, Australian Institute of Physics

Continue reading Neutrons will save the world; physicists in the Eureka Awards; how to survive the end of the universe during National Science Week; and more physics in august

How neutrons will save the world

The Claire Corani Memorial Lecture

The South Australian lecture in the

2019 AIP Women in Physics Lecture Tour

at 6:30pm–7:45pm on Tuesday 20th August 2019

in the Napier 102 Lecture Theatre
Napier Building, the University of Adelaide, North Terrace campus.

Abstract: They are small, neutral and often in a spin, and so much more than ‘just’ part of the atom. Neutrons are the sub-atomic particles that are here to save the world. This trusty particle can be called on to discover the details that no other can fathom. From the shape of a virus and how a drug can disable it, to keeping electrons flowing in the next generation of batteries. Neutrons truly are today’s super particle

Biography: Dr Helen Maynard-Casely is an Instrument Scientist based at ANSTO (the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation) where she uses neutrons to investigate the materials that make up our solar system. She has a PhD in high-pressure physics from the University of Edinburgh and has been lucky enough to have collected data in facilities all over the world.

The Claire Corani Memorial prizes, available for award to the top second-year female Physics student at each SA university in 2018, will be presented at the lecture.

QLD Outstanding Physics Teacher Award 2019 – nominate now!

The AIP-QLD is looking to introduce the outstanding Physics teacher award. We are looking for nominations of Physics teachers that have made a positive impact to teaching Physics to students at the high school level by anyone of the following criteria.

  1. Promote student interest in physics by providing an environment that stimulates student curiosity and learning.
  2. Use, develop or write innovative instructional materials and new technologies and approaches to the teaching of physics.
  3. Be a positive role model or mentor for other teachers of physics.
  4. Participate in professional development activities in science as a facilitator and continuous development as an effective science educator, with a focus on physics.

If you have a colleague, a former teacher of your own, or have heard of an inspiring teacher in your circle of friends, please consider nominating them for this years award by filling out the nomination form and sending this nomination (or any inquiries) by email to:

The award consists of a cash prize, plaque and certificate.

Nominations close Friday 23 August 2019.

Mid-Year Dinner

Date And Time
Thu, July 18, 2019
6:30 PM – 10:00 PM

The SA Branch of the Australian Institute of Physics will be holding its mid-year dinner and awards night in Kipling’s Restaurant at the Bombay Bicycle Club on Thursday 18th July. Come along for an informal evening with your fellow physicist including students, academics and researchers. Drinks will be from 6.30 pm with the dinner commencing at 7.00 pm.

We will be presenting the Silver Bragg Awards to the top final year students who have completed a Bachelor of Science degree in 2018 with a major in Physics from the University of Adelaide and Flinders University. The 2019 SA Physics Teacher of the Year award will also be acknowledged.

Bombay Bicycle Club
29 Torrens RoadOvingham, SA 5082

Cost: A La Carte (Kipling’s Restaurant Menu – Pay on the night (no separate bills so paying by cash will be greatly appreciated)

AIP Summer Meeting; neutrons will save the world; foldable phones; jobs; and more physics in July

We are excited to announce that the AIP is running a Summer Meeting on 3rd – 6th December 2019 at RMIT University in Melbourne. The meeting aims to showcase the upcoming talent in physics and will offer career development opportunities for students and early career researchers, including a jobs fair and a brilliant scientific program. Details here

A group of Australian students are attending the 29th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting in Germany and they’re taking over our new AIP Instagram account. See what they’re doing here.

July 5th 2019 marks the International Day of LGBTQ+ People in STEM. I’m so proud to be the president of an organisation that supports diversity and inclusion in STEM. And take a look at our social media accounts that have gone rainbow for the day!

This month in our new Hidden Physicists section, we’re featuring Eliza-Jane Pearsall, who is loving her job as Assistant Director of Policy Analysis at the Department of Social Security. Get in touch if you’d like to nominate a ‘hidden’ physicist for us to profile. More below.

This month Harvard physicist Lene Hau will present ‘Nothing goes faster than light… usually!’ at UNSW on July 23rd. For August: Helen Maynard-Casely will tour the country to talk about how neutrons will save the world for the Women in Physics lectures; Pegah Maasoumi will be around Queensland, talking about Ironman’s suit and solar panel windows on the John Mainstone lecture tour; and Elisabetta Barberio will present the 2019 Einstein lecture exploring what we know so far about dark matter. Details below.

I am also very proud to say that we found two Australian physicists honoured in the Queen’s Birthday 2018 Honours list. Congratulations to Olivia Samardzic and Michelle Simmons! Olivia is a long-time AIP executive team member and looks after the AIP awards and medals, and Michelle of course is a quantum physicist and 2018 Australian of the Year. If you know of other physicists, please let us know.

We await the results of the South Australian Science Excellence Awards with shortlisted physicists Andre Luiten and James Tickner. Good luck!

In WA, hear from medical physicist Pejman Rowshanfarzad about the latest advances in radiotherapy machines at the WA Branch AIP General Meeting on Thursday 11th July. Register by emailing WA Branch Chair Dean Leggo.

Also this month: mentoring and guidance in careers (MAGIC) workshop for women ECRs, five of Australia’s brightest students to attend the International Physics Olympiad in Israel, apply for a role at CSIRO as an optical satellite systems engineer and more jobs in our Jobs Corner.

Finally, if you know someone considering becoming a member, let them know that now is an excellent time to join. From July 1st, new members pay only 50 per cent of the membership rates for the remainder of the year.

Continue reading AIP Summer Meeting; neutrons will save the world; foldable phones; jobs; and more physics in July

Canadian reciprocal rights for AIP members; Australian Academy of Science Awardees, the unravelling Great Red Spot; and more physics in June

I’m excited to announce that Nanotechnologist Tim Van der Laan will be joining the AIP team as our new Special Projects Officer for Outreach, focusing on digital content creation. Follow the new Instagram account at @aus_physics and send through your interesting and engaging physics pictures to Tim for posting on the account. Tim is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Queensland University of Technology, and he will work on ways to connect physicists with students and the broader community. Read about his plans below.

As well as our new Jobs Corner, this month we are introducing our ‘Hidden Physicists’ section, which profiles a physicist in the workforce. Our first profile is on ANU and UWA physics graduate Stuart Midgley, who now builds supercomputers at DownUnder GeoSolutions to process seismic data for mining companies.

In other good news we signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Canadian Association of Physics (CAP) in May. This is a fantastic achievement and allows AIP members to attend CAP Congresses at member rates, subscribe to CAP’s magazine and be invited to speak at CAP Congress. Congratulations to our hard-working secretary Kirrily Rule who is working to set up MOUs and reciprocity agreements with other physics societies around the world. The response has been very positive, so watch this space!

In May I had the pleasure of attending the Asian Physics Olympiad in Adelaide—the first time the event was held in Australia. Congratulations to the young physicists on the Australian team who competed in two five-hour exams – one experimental and the other theory-based. I also had the pleasure of speaking on ABC RN Breakfast Radio with Siobhan Tobin about the Olympiad, women in STEM and optics. Have a listen here and read more below

If you’re in WA, come along to the WA Branch AIP General Meeting on Thursday 11th July. Medical physicist Pejman Rowshanfarzad will be guest lecturer, speaking about the latest advances in radiotherapy machines. More below.

Also this month: Australian Academy of Science Honorific Awards, attend the last Girls in Physics Breakfast for the year, apply for a graduate position at the Bureau of Meteorology, Jupiter’s shrinking Great Red Spot, and the last chance to be a presenter at Physics in the Pub in Melbourne.

Kind regards,

Jodie Bradby
President, Australian Institute of Physics

Continue reading Canadian reciprocal rights for AIP members; Australian Academy of Science Awardees, the unravelling Great Red Spot; and more physics in June

The Evolutionary Map of the Universe

Wednesday 3rd of April 2019 at 8pm
Kerr Grant Lecture Theatre
2nd Floor, Physics Building
The University of Adelaide
North Terrace, Adelaide

The Evolutionary Map of the Universe

Professor Ray Norris
CSIRO Astronomy & Space Science &
Western Sydney University

Abstract: The m Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) telescope is nearing completion in Western Australia. One of the key projects driving it is EMU – the Evolutionary Map of the Universe – which has an ambitious goal of studying the sky at radio wavelengths in unprecedented detail, boldly going where no telescope has gone before. Our scientific goal is to figure out how galaxies evolved in the early days of the Universe and how they evolve to the Universe we see today, with stars, planets, rocks, trees, and astronomers. What will we find? How will it change our view of how we got to be here? What is the role of black holes in regulating the growth of galaxies? And given that the most spectacular discoveries in astronomy are unexpected, we will be watching especially carefully for serendipitous discoveries that pop up in the data.

Bio: Professor Ray Norris is a British/Australian astronomer with CSIRO Astronomy & Space Science and Western Sydney University, who researches how galaxies formed and evolved after the Big Bang, and also researches the astronomy of  Aboriginal Australians. He frequently appears on radio and TV, featured in the stage show “The First Astronomers” with Wardaman elder Bill Yidumduma Harney, and has written the novel “Graven Images”.  He was educated at Cambridge University, and University of Manchester, UK, and moved to Australia to join CSIRO, where he became Head of Astrophysics in 1994, and then Deputy Director of the Australia Telescope, and Director of the Australian Astronomy Major National Research Facility, before returning in 2005 to active research. He currently leads an international project (EMU, or Evolutionary Map of the Universe) to understand the origin and evolution of galaxies, using the new Australian SKA Pathfinder radio-telescope nearing completion in Western Australia, and is also pioneering the WTF project to discover the unexpected in astronomical data.

Free – visitors welcome –  booking not required (*Please note – university security locks entrance doors at 8pm sharp*)


February VIC Branch Event

On 11 February 2019 at the School of Physics, The University of Melbourne, Prof. Elisabetta Barberio spoke about Australia’s contribution to discovering the Higgs Boson and future experimental research on detecting dark matter such a WIMPs. We also learned that bananas are a potent source of background radiation!

It was poetic that Prof. Barberio spoke on the International Women In Science Day as she is the first female Australian Institute of Physics Walter Boas Medal recipient.

Victoria’s Lead Scientist, Amanda Caples also showed her support by attending the talk and congratulating Prof. Barberio on her Boas Medal afterwards.
AIP-Feb2019-51126586_2535178313176558_4946797504508198912_Prof. Elisabetta Barberio, Boas Medal Winner (Hercus Theatre, Uni. of Melb.)

AIP-Feb2019-52120225_2536250253069364_862112898242052096_nDr Gail Iles (AIP Vic Branch Chair), Prof. Elisabetta Barberio (Uni. Melb.), Dr Amanda Caples (Lead Scientist Victoria)