(Original text adapted from Macquarie University)
It is with great sadness that we acknowledge the passing of Emeritus Professor James (Jim) Piper AM on 20 July. Jim was a Fellow of the AIP and the winner of our first Boas Medal.
A true pioneer of laser physics in Australia, Professor Piper served the University for a remarkable 38 years, including 10 years as Macquarie University’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) from 2003 to 2013.
Professor Piper joined Macquarie University in 1975 following his postdoctoral period at Oxford University. In the years that followed, he established the University as a leading international centre for lasers, photonics and optics. Many of Professor Piper’s extraordinary achievements as a physicist are documented in the Encyclopedia of Australian Science and Innovation.
Professor Piper remained active in research after his retirement, securing an Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage grant in 2020 to develop a lanthanide-doped nanomaterial for use in anti-counterfeit security inks. The Linkage program was a scheme that Professor Piper was instrumental in establishing, having served on the Australian Research Council for 10 years.
As Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), Professor Piper is credited with establishing the foundations for Macquarie’s trajectory as a research institution. He developed the University’s first strategic research plan and established the CORE (Concentrations of Research Excellence) program, which nurtured many of Macquarie’s current research leaders.
The Jim Piper Award for Excellence in Research Leadership is awarded every two years in his honour, recognising Macquarie academics who share with Professor Piper the rare combination of outstanding proficiency in both research and leadership.
In 2014, Professor Piper was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for “significant service to tertiary education, particularly through research in applied laser physics”.
Despite the volume of his professional achievements, it is Professor Piper’s character for which he will be most fondly remembered by his colleagues. He was esteemed for his generosity, down-to-earth manner and sense of humour, and will be much missed by those who knew him, including the many students and colleagues who benefited from his mentorship.
We celebrate Professor Piper’s enduring imprint on Macquarie University and Australian science.
S Bruce Dowton MD
Vice-Chancellor and President
(Image credit: Macquarie University)