Category Archives: Women in Physics

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.    

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
aip_president@aip.org.au

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

Asia’s toughest physics competition; understanding the foldable mobile phone, the first image of a black hole; and more physics in May

Join our election campaign to ‘solve it with science’. The AIP has signed up to Science and Technology Australia’s call for a science focus this election, alongside 100 other leaders from the science and technology sector. The call to action is in response to declines in research funding, falling business investment, freezes to government support of universities and insufficient STEM graduates to meet future demands. You can support the campaign by joining the conversation on Twitter at #SolveitwithScience or by writing to or meeting your local member or candidates. Read more on the STA website and in last month’s bulletin.

See Pegah Maasoumi in Queensland in August talking about the mystery of foldable mobile phones and next-gen apartment windows that can produce light. Congratulations and thank you Pegah, our 2019 John Mainstone Youth Lecturer and past Chair of our Women in Physics Group.

Our newly-elected Chair of the Women in Physics Group is nanotechnologist Victoria Coleman. Victoria has a strong interest in equity, diversity, and inclusion in STEM and we’re delighted that she is taking on this role.

Last month I was lucky enough to attend the announcement of the Australian team for the Asian Physics Olympiad—eight teens who will compete against more than 200 of the region’s smartest kids in Asia’s toughest physics competition (pictured right). It’s the first time the Olympiad will be held in Australia. We wish Stephen, Benjamin, Min-Je, Alexander, Jessie, William, Simon and Rosemary the best of luck in May!

Like me, I’m sure physicists around the country were very excited about the first image of a black hole released in April by the Event Horizon Telescope team. Although there weren’t any Australians involved, the picture was the result of almost a decade of preparation and involved a global collaboration of researchers. It’s an example of the amazing, seemingly impossible things that can be achieved with collaboration. Read more about the announcement below, or for a quick recap take a look at this great comic produced by the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ).

Also this month: apply for the Women in STEM early career grant and paper writing retreat, take part in a survey for ECRs to help improve job satisfaction, read more physics-related jobs in the new Jobs Corner section and put yourself forward to be a presenter at Physics in the Pub in Canberra or Melbourne.

Kind regards,

Jodie Bradby
President, Australian Institute of Physics

Continue reading Asia’s toughest physics competition; understanding the foldable mobile phone, the first image of a black hole; and more physics in May

Cleaning the Sydney Harbour Bridge with lasers; make science a focus this election; and more physics in April

It’s been an exciting month for Australian physics. And particularly for women in physics. We started with a call for gender balance around the world on International Women’s Day earlier this month. The AIP is striving to achieve gender balance in a variety of ways, including the Women in Physics group and annual Women in Physics lecture tour that supports a female physicist touring the country. 

I’m very excited to announce the Women in Physics lecturer for 2019: a talented physicist who will be spreading the good word about how neutrons can save the world. Read on to see who it is! 

We thank Pegah Maasoumi for her time as the Chair of the Women in Physics group for the last two years. We are looking for a new chair of this committee. Please send in an expression of interest if you’d like to take on this important role.

The cut off to renew your AIP membership was last Sunday, but it’s easy to renew (just email aip@aip.org.au with your request). If you need your memory jogged about all the benefits of being a member of AIP, read on below.

Jacq Romero is on a winning streak and will receive $1 million in combined funding over three years for the Westpac Research Fellowship. Our 1999 Women in Physics lecturer, Jocelyn Bell Burnell, has donated her £2.3m Breakthrough Prize to the Institute of Physics to a new PhD scholarship fund to encourage greater diversity in physics. Register your interest to keep up to date with the Scholarship Fund.

I attended Science and Technology Australia’s (STA) President and CEO Forum in Sydney last week. STA represents more than 77,000 scientists and technology workers and is heavily focused on promoting science in the upcoming election cycle. We added the AIP logo to the STA media release as part of the #SolveitwithScience campaign (along with those of almost 100 other Australian science and technology organisations!) I encourage you to support the campaign by writing to or meeting your local member or candidates. More below.

The 14th Asia-Pacific Physics Conference will be held in Malaysia from 17-22 November. Only eight Australians are registered so far and it would be great to see a stronger Australian cohort. Last time this conference was held in Australia. Submit your abstracts before Monday 15th April.

Also in April: the largest telescope in Victoria officially opened, physicists found that quantum tunnelling is instantaneous, National Science Week grants are open and it’s prize season so don’t forget to nominate, or encourage others to nominate today.

Finally, as part of a push to make the AIP a useful resource for our student and ECR members, keep an eye out in our new section called Jobs Corner. We’re going to start featuring physics-related jobs. Send us through any opportunities you’d like to advertise and we’ll include a link for free.

Kind regards,
Jodie Bradby

President, Australian Institute of Physics

Continue reading Cleaning the Sydney Harbour Bridge with lasers; make science a focus this election; and more physics in April

Physics cleaning up at the Eurekas; physicist named CSIRO Chief Scientist; awards and opportunities; and more

It’s been a busy month for physics with hundreds of events taking place around the country as part of National Science Week. About 30 of those were presented by UK plasma physicist Ceri Brenner, AIP’s 2018 Women in Physics lecturer. Ceri spoke about Igniting stars with super intense lasers, and shared her passion for physics with hundreds of people around Australia at school lectures, public lectures and meetings. Ceri was also featured in a segment on ABC’s The World talking about developing the world’s most powerful lasers. More below on Ceri’s tour.

I was personally delighted to hear that Past AIP President Cathy Foley is CSIRO’s new Chief Scientist. Cathy has played an integral part in the direction of the Australian Institute of Physics—she was the 2007-2008 AIP President and is currently on the Women in Physics Committee. She will step into the new role at the end of September to help champion science, and its impact on, and contribution to, the world. We wish Cathy all the best in her new role.

Four of this year’s Eureka prizes were won by physicists. Congratulations to the following individuals and teams:

  • The Optical Physics in Neuroscience team from the University of Queensland for the 2018 UNSW Eureka Prize for Excellence in Interdisciplinary Scientific Research
  • Mohsen Rahmani from Australian National University for the 2018 Macquarie University Eureka Prize for Outstanding Early Career Researcher
  • The Sapphire Clock Team from The Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing, University of Adelaide and Cryoclock Pty Ltd for the 2018 Defence Science and Technology Eureka Prize for Outstanding Science in Safeguarding Australia
  • Alan Duffy from Swinburne University and The Royal Institute of Australia for the 2018 Celestino Eureka Prize for Promoting Understanding of Science.

Congratulations to quantum computing scientist Rose Ahlefeldt who is the 2018 ACT Scientist of the Year—an award that celebrates Canberra’s emerging scientists. Rose will spend the next 12 months inspiring young people to pursue careers in STEM, while promoting the ACT as a centre of excellence for science and research.

Also in this bulletin, the Asian Physics Olympiad want you to submit your toughest physics questions and Phil Dooley is looking for presenters for Physics in the Pub in Brisbane. Nominations are now open for NSW AIP’s Annual Postgraduate Awards Day.

Our last two bulletins have included surveys about AIP activities and your preferred time of the year for Congress. We haven’t got enough responses yet to share the results, so would love you to complete the surveys before the end of September. Your feedback will help to shape the future direction of the AIP.

Kind regards,

Andrew Peele
President, Australian Institute of Physics
aip_president@aip.org.au

Continue reading Physics cleaning up at the Eurekas; physicist named CSIRO Chief Scientist; awards and opportunities; and more

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
aip_president@aip.org.au

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 http://wp.maths.usyd.edu.au/MAGIC/ 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.