Category Archives: News

Igniting stars & light tweezers for Science Week; Physics at the Eurekas

National Science Week is happening from 11 – 19 August and physics is again well represented. There are over 2,000 events around the country. I encourage you to take part in the Week—whether you’re running an event or attending, you may inspire a next generation physicist or even come up with an event idea for next year. Read more about the physics events below.

Congratulations to the Australian Research Council’s 2018 Laureate Fellows—announced last week. This year’s Fellows include many involved with physics including Professor Tamara Davis, Professor Stephen Foley, Professor Julian Gale, Professor Karl Glazebrook, Professor Hanns-Christoph Nägerl and Distinguished Professor Kourash Kalantar-zadeh. Well done to the 15 Australian Research Council Physical Scientists who were awarded ARC Future Fellowships. Read about their projects here.

We also welcome Dr Ceri Brenner to Australia as she has already embarked on her month-long AIP Women in Physics Lecture Tour, delivering public lectures around the country. Be sure to go and see one of her lectures—Igniting stars with super intense lasers—around the country.

The 2018 Eureka Prize nominations were announced at the end of last month—featuring physicists around the country. Congratulations to the Optical Physics in Neuroscience Team from the University of Queensland on their novel interdisciplinary research, Associate Professor Alan Duffy for engaging the public in science communication, and Dr Mohsen Rahmani for developing a new class of nanoscale surface.

In our quick survey this month we are posing a question that should affect about 1,000 of you (the approximate number of delegates to Congress). We are interested in finding out your preferences for when Congress is held: December or July. It would be great to get a large number of responses, so follow this link to take the survey.

Australian Science Innovations is also inviting the Australian physics community to submit their toughest physics questions for the Asian Physics Olympiad, which is to be hosted in Australia for the first time. Two hundred of the world’s brightest teenagers will head to Adelaide from 5 – 13 May 2019.

Kind regards,

Andrew Peele
President, Australian Institute of Physics

Continue reading Igniting stars & light tweezers for Science Week; Physics at the Eurekas

MAGIC – Mentoring and Guidance in Careers for Mathematical and Physical Sciences

Applications are now open for the second “Mentoring and Guidance in Careers” (MAGIC) workshop for women and gender diverse early career researchers with a PhD in mathematical or physical sciences, awarded within the past 7 years. The workshop will be held from 29 October – 2 November 2018, at University House, ANU, Canberra.

Please see for further information and for the application form.

Up to 35 successful applicants will receive financial support for airfare and accommodation costs to attend the workshop.

The 2017 workshop received an enthusiastic welcome and was oversubscribed, with many interested people turned away due to restricted capacity.

The closing date for applications is 6 August 2018.


The AIP is extremely excited to provide the current tour schedule of Dr Ceri Brenner during the Women in Physics Lecture tour.

Dr Ceri Brenner is a physicist using the most powerful lasers in the world to develop innovative imaging technology for medical, nuclear and aerospace inspection. She has a unique role that spans research, innovation and business development and is driving the translation of laser-driven accelerator research into industrial applications that impact our society. In 2017 she was awarded the UK Institute of Physics’ Clifford-Paterson Medal and Prize for her significant early career contributions to the application of physics in an industrial context.

A graduate of Oxford University and PhD from University of Strathclyde, Ceri has established a unique position working in the UK’s Central Laser Facility, in which her passion for application-focused research works alongside pursuing fundamental understanding of extreme condition physics.

She is a highly experienced and popular science communicator and is a strong advocate of physics engagement to reach new audiences within the public, academia and industry. She especially enjoys inspiring the next generation into this exciting profession. Ceri is also an active member of the physics community with leading committee roles within the Institute of Physics and British Science Association.

Her website can be found here:

IOPawards2017_CBYou can find out if Ceri will be visiting a location near you by accessing the tour document. Please note the document is being updated as more information becomes available and the information listed may be subject to change.


If you would like more information on a certain event, or would like to contact a local organiser, you can contact the National Tour coordinator Joanna Turner for further details:





The Fellowship of the AIP; pressing fire on lasers; and physics is everywhere in July

The Australian Institute of Physics is dedicated to promoting the role of physics in research, education, industry and the community.

We do this through advocacy, encouraging investment in physics, organising research meetings and conferences, supporting physics teachers, recognising distinguished contributions to physics, and more.

But, as a member-based organisation, we know our members are the key to our success, and we constantly strive to ensure we are providing the best possible benefits for AIP members.

This month we give you the chance to have your say on the future direction of the AIP and help us to make your membership more worthwhile. Take the survey now or read on for more.

It also gives me great pleasure in this edition to highlight the work of our two most recently elevated Fellows of the AIP.

  • Dr Maria Parappilly, from Flinders University and the current head of our Physics Education Group, has done fantastic work raising awareness about the importance of having women and good role models in physics, and the importance of education.
  • Professor Chris McConville is Deputy Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovation in the College of Science, Engineering and Health at RMIT University and is a widely respected researcher into novel semiconducting materials.

I am also very proud of two Australian physicists who were honoured with the Queen’s Birthday 2018 Honours list: Professor Halina Rubinsztein-Dunlop AO from the University of Queensland and Professor Jai Singh AM from Charles Darwin University. Halina received the honour for her work in laser physics and nano-optics as a researcher, mentor and academic – she was also one of the organisers of the last AIP Congress. Jai received the award for his work in physics education, as an academic and researcher to professional scientific organisations. Congratulations Halina and Jai.

Read on for more about the recipients of these awards, and for events around the country where you can hear from some of our best physicists, as well as those visiting from overseas.

Finally, I’d like to urge all AIP members to submit an abstract for the AIP Congress in December. The line-up for the Congress is looking great, so make sure you get your name on the list of speakers – the deadlines for abstract submissions is 15 July.

Kind regards,

Andrew Peele
President, Australian Institute of Physics

Continue reading The Fellowship of the AIP; pressing fire on lasers; and physics is everywhere in July

The Women in Physics lecturer is…; Stargazing world record; and more physics in June

It gives me great pleasure to once again welcome a renowned physicist to Australia for the AIP’s annual Women in Physics lecture tour—and this year we’ve chosen Dr Ceri Brenner from the Central Laser Facility at Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, UK.

Ceri is a high-power laser plasma physicist who works alongside industry, translating her research on the fourth state of matter, into practical real-world applications in medicine, aerospace and more. She’s also a passionate science communicator who I am sure will inspire audiences around the country. More on that below.

Physics also made quite a mark on the media in the past month. Not only was rockstar physicist Brian Cox making the media rounds, but ANU also managed to achieve literally record-breaking numbers of people turning their eyes to the sky for their successful Guinness World Record attempt.

We’ll have another huge physics name down under in September. Kip Thorne has announced a string of tour dates, be sure to support the industry and grab a ticket when they go on sale on 22 June. He’ll be supported by local star of Swinburne astronomy Alan Duffy and comedian Robin Ince.

Some of Australia’s best and brightest physicists were also elected into the Australian Academy of Science Fellowship, one of the highest scientific honours in Australia. Be sure to read all about them, and head to our Facebook page to offer your congratulations. Meanwhile the next generation were representing at FameLab Australia and in the Physics Olympiad. Continue reading The Women in Physics lecturer is…; Stargazing world record; and more physics in June

Going for gold (in physics); have your say; professional development; and more: Physics in May

While some of us spent most of last month cheering on the Aussies, especially Cameron McEvoy, in the pool – there is plenty of good physics going on out of the pool as well.

Some of it will be coming to a pub near you as a part of the  Physics in the Pub event series, and there will be even more at the  AIP Congress in Perth in December. Abstract submissions are open until 15 June.

Australia produces some fantastic physicists, and that’s one of the reasons our organisation is so important. It’s great to have a solid community of physicists and physics fans to share their work and get excited about the work of others.

We recognise excellent Australian physics with our AIP medals. There are awards for physicists in a range of disciplines and at all career stages,  have a look at the list below to see if you might be eligible. Nominations close 1 June.

And we want to hear from you.

I get to write to you each month, so now we’re giving you the opportunity to talk back in our regular monthly surveys. The first one is only two questions long, so  check it out

We’re also considering whether a consolidated approach to managing the operations of the AIP could be an efficient use of members funds. Accordingly, we are seeking detailed expressions of interest to deliver AIP Operations, if you’re interested all the details are online.

Finally, I recently joined a meeting with Presidents, CEOs and other leaders of Australia’s most prominent science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) organisations in Canberra, to discuss the important role that science and technology will play in Australia’s future.

As a result, we issued a statement calling for: a whole-of-government plan for science and technology; strategy to equip the future Australian workforce with STEM skills; strong investment in both basic and applied research; and creating policy informed by the best available evidence. You can read our full statement here.

Kind Regards,

Andrew Peele
President, Australian Institute of Physics

Continue reading Going for gold (in physics); have your say; professional development; and more: Physics in May

AIP member benefits; call for Congress abstracts; behind the scenes at Parliament; and more physics in April

Preparations for the 2018 AIP Congress—in Perth, December 9 to

Professor Andrew Peele Interim Director, Australian Synchrotron
Professor Andrew Peele
Interim Director, Australian Synchrotron

13—are now well underway, with most of the plenary speakers announced. And the call for abstracts has just opened. More on both of those below.

This year we are really trying to attract a larger industry presence at the Congress, so please pass on the call for abstracts to those you know who are working in physics outside academia. It would also be great to see a large representation of science teachers at the conference.

Get your abstracts in today to help make this the biggest and best Congress yet.

As you probably know, AIP members receive discounted rates to attend the AIP Congress, but there are many other member benefits too.

This month our Vice President Jodie Bradby shared her thoughts on why all physicists should be members of the AIP. She highlights the great work undertaken by our members, and the events they work tirelessly to make happen.

Also in this bulletin, we hear from an AIP member who represented the AIP at Science meets Parliament earlier this year. Claire Edmunds, a PhD candidate from the University of Sydney and Professor Andre Luiten from the Institute for Photonics & Advanced Sensing (IPAS) were given the chance to network with the most brilliant minds in Australian science and members of parliament—while learning about the value those relationships provide.

I was pleased to hear that the experience was not only beneficial for our representatives and their careers, but was also a whole lot of fun. You can read Claire’s report below and Andre’s in the next edition of Australian Physics.

Finally, a lot of great Australian physics research made its way into the news this month, so be sure to check out some of the great media coverage below.

Continue reading AIP member benefits; call for Congress abstracts; behind the scenes at Parliament; and more physics in April


2018 Alexander and Leicester McAulay Winter Lecture Series

Australian Institute of Physics – Tasmanian Branch

From Mad Scientists to Eco-Warriors: The changing image of scientists in fiction and film

Tuesday 10 April 2018, 8.00-9.00 pm
Physics Lecture Theatre 1
University of Tasmania, Sandy Bay Campus, Hobart


Adjunct Associate Professor Roslynn Haynes
School of English, Media and Performing Arts, University of New South Wales

For approximately 600 years, from 1380 to 1980, scientists or their predecessors, the alchemists and natural philosophers, fared ill at the hands of writers and, later, film makers.

They were obsessed to the point of madness, or evil, amoral, arrogant, impersonal, and inhuman. At best, they were well intentioned but blind to the dangers of forces they barely controlled. They were Faustus and Frankenstein, Jekyll and Moreau, Caligari and Strangelove – the scientists of film and fiction, cultural archetypes that reflected ancient fears of tampering with the unknown or unleashing the little-understood powers of nature.

Yet, since the 1990s, there has been a trend by novelists to present scientists as more complex, realistic figures, many honest and admirable even if confused as to their role. They are eco-warriors saving the planet, or medical researchers discovering new cures for humanity. However, in films, the mad, evil stereotype endures. What are the reasons for this disparity?  What do they teach us about the difficulties scientists have in convincing politicians and large sections of society of the need to take environmental pollution and climate change seriously?

Further details: Andrew Klekociuk (T 0418 323 341, E

Stargazing in science week and prizes galore: Physics in March

One of the year’s highlights for me as AIP President is our Annual

Professor Andrew Peele Director, Australian Synchrotron
Professor Andrew Peele
Director, Australian Synchrotron

Council Meeting, which gives us the chance to meet in person, hear about what our interstate colleagues are up to, and share our vision for the coming year for the AIP.

For me it’s exciting to see the volume of activity being managed through the state branches of the AIP. Not just in the traditional talk formats—where we continue to share some of the newest and best research from around the country—but also events such as physics in the pub, careers nights and debates, which encourage interaction and sharing of ideas.

One of the reasons that physics is able to feature at the highest levels of international science, and at the highest levels of public recognition, is because of the quality of grass-roots activities like these. The Council Meeting is a great way to bring to light some of this work, which can otherwise get overlooked, and to recognise its value.

Reflecting on another grass-roots activity—our first Summer Meeting—I think we can be pleased with the outcome for this first-time event. The low-cost event featured many opportunities for our early-career researchers and students, whilst also providing a collaborative and informative space for productive discussions. I want to thank those who put time and effort into bringing this event to fruition, and I am sure there will be more discussions about how we make the most of this event in the future. Meanwhile, it’s an AIP Congress year this year, so save the dates of 9-14 December, and keep your eyes on this bulletin for calls for content.

It was also my absolute pleasure to present an award for Outstanding Service to Physics at our AGM to Brian James. Brian’s most recent contribution to physics has been editing our member-only magazine Australian Physics for the past five years. Brian deserves to be recognised wholeheartedly for the time, effort and passion he has put into the magazine during his tenure. He will be stepping away from the role in coming months. Peter Kappen and David Hoxley will be taking over the reins and I look forward to a full introduction from them in the magazine pages once they do. Read more about Brian’s award below.

And on the topic of awards, included in this bulletin are the details of a number of science prizes. I’d encourage each state branch to consider who you’ve awarded prizes to over the past 12-18 months, and to put those people forward for some of these awards. We on the National Exec will do the same. If you are working on a nomination, please let us know so we don’t double up.

Kind Regards,

Andrew Peele
President, Australian Institute of Physics

Continue reading Stargazing in science week and prizes galore: Physics in March

Physics in the limelight, let’s keep it there; AIP AGM; LIGO lecture and more

Professor Andrew Peele Interim Director, Australian Synchrotron
Professor Andrew Peele
Interim Director, Australian Synchrotron

I am very excited about starting 2018 with Michelle Simmons awarded Australian of the Year – what better way is there to bring physics into the limelight than having people discussing the benefits of quantum physics.

Michelle is a great advocate for our discipline, women in science and physics education – her 2017 Australia Day Address was a great example.  We offer our sincere congratulations to Michelle on this honour, and you can share your messages with her too via our Facebook post.

I’d also like to offer congratulations to those physicists awarded in the Australia Day honours roll – see list below.

These accolades are a timely reminder that the only reason physicists win these awards is because someone nominates them.

Nominations are now open for Australian of the Year 2019 and the honours roll. You can also nominate for FameLab, the Eureka Prizes, Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science and many other awards will open in the coming months.

So let’s make sure we keep the momentum going, think about who you can nominate to keep physics in the spotlight.

Last but not least, this month we also recognise Professor David McClelland – who has been awarded the Walter Boas Medal for key contributions to LIGO, and “one of the greatest achievements in the history of physics”, the discovery of gravitational waves. You can read more about David’s achievements below.

You can hear more from David at a Public Lecture at Melbourne’s RMIT on 15 February, immediately after the AIP’s AGM.

I hope to see you there.


Andrew Peele
President, Australian Institute of Physics

Continue reading Physics in the limelight, let’s keep it there; AIP AGM; LIGO lecture and more