AIP Annual General Meeting, Awards, Hidden Physicists and jobs; new organisation model, and more physics in FEBRUARY

I hope you stayed safe and had some rest over a somewhat tumultuous holiday period. It has been a difficult summer for many people across Australia and our thoughts are with the all those affected by the terrible fires, smoke and storms. My hope is that this summer is an inflection point regarding actions around climate change and that the AIP, like many other scientific organisations, makes its voice heard on this issue.

The upcoming Annual General Meeting is a great opportunity for members to give feedback on the direction of the AIP. It will be held in the Hercus Lecture Theatre, University of Melbourne, on Thursday 6 February at 4.30pm. Everyone is welcome to attend the AGM see below for more details.

In this bulletin – the first for 2020 – we meet Hidden Physicist Toby Hendy, who is sharing her love of physics and maths with the world via her highly successful YouTube channel, Tibees. 

We had a fantastic conclusion to 2019 with our Summer Meeting, also in Melbourne, which featured a dozen excellent plenary speakers. Conference chair Dr Gail Iles reports below.

Be on the lookout for news soon on the AIP Congress 2020 which will be held in Adelaide from 7 to 11 December.

Also in this bulletin is a report by David Gozzard on 2019’s Science Meets Parliament event in Canberra.

Congratulations to Professor Anthony Thomas AC, Professor Rachel Webster AO, and Associate Professor Maria Parappilly OAM who received Australia Day honours! .

Congratulations also to Professor Lisa Kewley of ANU and ASTRO 3D, who has become the first Australian ever to win the US National Academy of Science’s James Craig Watson Medal. More below.

There’s a chance to have your say on Australia’s future in space. The National Committee for Space and Radio Science is seeking your input, via an online survey – details below.

And, in housekeeping news, the AIP has recently changed to a new membership database hosted by Wild Apricot, has a new dedicated Operations Manager (read more about Nicole and the role below), and has recreated a new LinkedIn profile.

 Kind regards,

Jodie Bradby
President, Australian Institute of Physics
aip_president@aip.org.au

AIP News

Annual General Meeting

All members are encouraged to attend the Annual General Meeting of the AIP, which will be held from 4.30pm AEDT on Thursday 6 February 2020 at the University of Melbourne’s Hercus Theatre.
This is located in the Physics South Building (L105) next to the David Caro Building (192).
Agenda for the 2020 AGM:

  • Apologies, recording of proxies
  • Minutes of 56th Annual General Meeting
  • Business arising from the minutes
  • President’s report
  • Treasurer’s report
  • Appointment of Auditor
  • Any other business.  

#PhysicsGotMeHere: Hidden Physicists – featuring Toby Hendy 

Employer: Self-employed

Job and description: YouTube Content Creator – I make videos about physics and maths on my YouTube channel ‘Tibees’. My work combines my interests in science communication and video production and requires an understanding of how to stand out in the world of digital media. 

On any day I could be brainstorming video ideas, researching a topic, filming, editing, making thumbnails or collaborating with other creators. I support the channel through Google Adsense (the ads that you see on YouTube), sponsors and Patreon (a site where people sign up for extra content). 

Some of my popular videos include me going through exams from around the world, explaining math concepts outdoors in a relaxed setting, and talking about the history of science. 

My career story so far: I did a Bachelor of Science majoring in physics and math at the University of Canterbury, NZ and then Honours in physics at ANU. I started a PhD in physics but left to pursue YouTube full time. I have been making science videos as a hobby since high school and it took me about 5 years to get my first 100 subscribers but now my channel has over 310,000 subscribers and 32 million total views. YouTube link: https://www.youtube.com/user/tibees

Please email physics@scienceinpublic.com.au if you’d like to nominate a ‘hidden’ physicist for us to profile.

 New organisational model for the AIP

As some of you have heard, the AIP is transitioning to a new organisational model. For many years we have contracted a professional secretariat to handle the membership database and the day-to-day operations of the organisation. However, the cost of this service, especially in light of new, cheaper, online alternatives and lower membership numbers, is one we can no longer justify. Thus, we have made the call to transition to a membership management system called Wild Apricot. As part of this change, we will be contracting an operations manager, who will take on the roles that PAMS and more recently TAS have performed. 

With that, we would like to introduce you to Nicole Reynolds, who is based in NSW. Nicole has a strong focus on physics and promoting science since her undergraduate days at the University of Sydney. Nicole also holds a Masters in physics from UNSW and has experience performing physics research in Europe. She may also be familiar to members of the condensed matter physics community from her attendance at our annual Wagga conferences. Nicole is also undertaking a part-time marketing and communication degree at TAFE which will certainly be an asset to managing the AIP.

The changes arising from the new system should be fairly seamless, but keep an eye out for an email prompting you to sign into the database and check your details.  This is the result of a lot of work behind the scenes by the AIP national executive, and Nicole. The move will result in a better user experience in terms of renewals and make it much easier for new members to join up. Hopefully it will also free up funds to invest in projects to promote the role of physics in research, education, industry and the community.

Opportunity: AIP Special Project Officer for Medals and Awards 

After many years of terrific service Dr Olivia Samardzic has indicated she would like to step down as the AIP’s Special Project Officer responsible for Medals and Awards. Any AIP member interested in this role is encouraged to contact Honorary Secretary Dr Kirrily Rule, aip_secretary@aip.org.au. This is a very important role for the AIP and involves the co-ordination of all our Medals and Awards and is part of the AIP National Executive team. Olivia has indicated that she is very happy to assist with the transition.

Report: Australian Institute of Physics Summer Meeting 2019

Adapted from the report of the conference provided by Dr Gail Iles, Conference Chair and Senior Lecturer at RMIT University

The second AIP Summer Meeting was held at RMIT University in Melbourne, in December 2019. The conference was attended by 167 delegates from Australia, New Zealand, Austria, Germany and the USA.

Members will be familiar with the AIP Congress, which attracts a large cohort of attendees, many of whom travel from overseas to take part. The Summer Meeting, on the other hand, is more of an intimate affair, designed to offer an opportunity to younger members of the academic community to showcase their work, whilst still maintaining the same high standards of cutting-edge research. The organising committee worked hard to ensure that the conference represented all physicists of different backgrounds. We ensured that there were female keynote speakers, that the scientific committee was 50% female:male and that statistics were published on the website.

The opening ceremony included a Welcome to Country by BoonWurrung man Gheran Steele ,who invited us all to “come with purpose”. This was a thought-provoking way to start the conference and helped everyone to focus on what they truly expected to gain from the experience.

Gheran Steele, Boon Wurrung man, giving the Welcome to Country at the AIP Summer Meeting 2019

Highlights from the conference included the excellent plenary speakers and the dinner which took place at Federation Square in the Zinc restaurant. This was an important networking opportunity for all delegates especially our young researchers. Congratulations to all the winners of the prizes and awards which can be found here.

Delegates at the AIP Summer Meeting 2019 poster session networking and discussing science

Thank you to everyone who worked behind the scenes to make the conference run smoothly. From caterers and RMIT services, to sponsors, speakers and delegates – the AIP Summer Meeting 2019 was, most definitely, a success.

Science Meets Parliament 2019

David Gozzard, from the Centre for Gravitational Astrophysics, Research School of Physics, The Australian National University, writes:

Australia’s politicians and scientists share the same goal, to improve the prosperity and quality of life of Australians and people around the globe, but we seem to speak different languages and have very different priorities. It is for that reason that I was keen to attend Science Meets Parliament, to learn how to bridge the gap between our leaders and researchers.

Organised by Science and Technology Australia, with the aid of other institutions and volunteers, Science Meets Parliament brings together the country’s leaders, decision-makers, and STEM professionals to promote the role of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics and its importance in Australia. 2019 marked the 20th Science Meets Parliament, indicating just how successful and strongly supported the event has become.

Spread over two intense days, it gives researchers the opportunity to learn how our politicians and parliament work. Day One focussed on science communication training, and featured keynote presentations from scientists and policy makers working at the coalface of Australian STEM policy and advocacy. We heard from the likes of Chief Defence Scientist Professor Tanya Munro, Australia’s Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel, and New Zealand’s Chief Science Advisor Professor Gary Evans. It was interesting to learn the similarities and differences in science policy and application from the two side of the ditch. The opening address delivered by Professor Fiona Wood (of spray-on skin fame) was both fascinating and inspiring.

The science communication training gave us the opportunity to workshop and refine what we were going to advocate to our parliamentarians. With limited time to talk to the busy politicians, we had to pick one idea and communicate it clearly, concisely and persuasively, without jargon or getting bogged down in unnecessary details. We learned that in the world of STEM advocacy, communicating the narrative of why we are doing it is crucial and must not get lost in what we are doing.

Day One also provided opportunities to meet and network with around 200 STEM professionals from a diverse range of backgrounds, from academia, industry, and even self-employed scientists. With such diversity, there was a huge variety of goals and agendas, but everyone shared a passion for their field and a desire to raise its visibility in science policy and public debate. Meeting so many passionate scientists was, for me, the highlight of the event.

The day ended with a gala dinner at Parliament House, attended by some of the politicians and parliamentary staffers we would be meeting the next day. This provided the opportunity to start to advocate, build a rapport, and work on our communication techniques in a more relaxed atmosphere.

Day Two featured more presentations from STEM ambassadors and advocates, as well as panel discussions with parliamentarians and senior scientists. But the highlight was the opportunity to meet with our assigned parliamentarians and their staffers.

Each meeting included four STEM professionals from a variety of fields. Some groups worked together to convey a joint message, while others represented the individual challenges of their field.

I had the opportunity to meet with David Smith, MP for Bean in Canberra’s south, along with his senior staffer Bryce Wilson. The other scientists joining me in the meeting were Michael Tobar from physics at UWA, Daniel Rodwell from Australia’s National Computational Infrastructure, and Sara Howden from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute. While we had not worked together beforehand to present a joint message, we found that we were united in our concerns for STEM in Australia and discussed what we felt were the major challenges facing Australian research, including tertiary education, funding, job stability, the brain drain, and missed opportunities to capitalise on our nation’s expertise and skills. We found David and Bryce to be well versed in these issues, and genuinely curious about our work.

We were not alone. Day Two closed with drinks and canapés during which the main topic of conversation between the scientists was their experiences meeting their assigned parliamentarians. Nearly everyone I spoke to reported how engaged and interested their politicians were. Some turned out to be huge nerds, wanting to go into the details about anything from gene editing to dark matter.

Science Meets Parliament was a fascinating introduction to the machinations of science and technology policy and advocacy in Australia, and an insight into the life and people on Capital Hill. I am extremely grateful to the AIP for sponsoring my place at the meeting, as well as to the organisers, volunteers and speakers who made the event a success. I strongly encourage anyone who is interested in promoting any and all aspects of STEM in Australia to apply to attend in the future.

Australian Physics Magazine archive 

Every issue of Australian Physics since April 1964 is now available on the AIP website.
The huge task of scanning every issue was completed by former editor, A/Prof Brian James.
You can read them all here: https://aip.org.au/australian-physics/ Other Physics News & Opportunities AIP Members receive discount to see Sean Carroll

Think Inc. is offering AIP paid members a 15% discount on tickets to see Sean Carroll in his upcoming show, Our Preposterous Universe.

Contact aip@aip.org.au to get the discount code.

Find out more about the events here https://thinkinc.org.au/events/carroll/

Other Physics News & Opportunities

AIP Members receive discount to see Sean Carroll

Think Inc. is offering AIP paid members a 15% discount on tickets to see Sean Carroll in his upcoming show, Our Preposterous Universe.

Contact aip@aip.org.au to get the discount code.

Find out more about the events here https://thinkinc.org.au/events/carroll/

Survey – Australia’s Future in Space

The National Committee for Space and Radio Science is managing the development of the next decadal, strategic plan for the field, and is seeking input via the survey below from those studying, employed in or otherwise contributing to the community.

The survey closes Monday 16 March. Any information provided is confidential and will not be used to identify individual respondents. It comprises of a small number of multiple choice and open-ended questions and should take 10 mins to complete.

It can be found here.

CSIRO Alumni Physics scholarship awarded

CSIRO Alumni invites you to congratulate the winner of the 2020 CSIRO Alumni Scholarship and hear from a panel of previous winners who will discuss their work and how the award helped their research.

This year’s will be presented to Benjamin Dix-Matthews, to assist his research into coherent optical free-space frequency dissemination. He has developed an innovative system capable of overcoming the complex challenges associated with the stabilised free-space transfer of optical frequencies.

He will use the scholarship to travel to Toulouse, France to test his prototype system in a practical experiment comprising an optical transmission between two buildings. The project is in collaboration with the CNES, the French Space Agency.

Previous winners have researched a diverse and exciting range of topics. Read about their work here.

Benjamin will receive his award on Wednesday 19 February at CSIRO’s Lindfield laboratories. If you are interested in taking a tour of the site beforehand, led by Dr Scott Martin, please register at the link below.

The Laboratories Credit Union and NSW Chapter of the CSIRO Alumni created the travel scholarship and invite you to help them continue awarding scholarships with a tax-deductible donation .

Event information and registration

Physicists named in Australia Day Honours

Professor Anthony Thomas AC

Prof Thomas, from the University of Adelaide, was awarded Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) in recognition of his work unlocking the secrets of the Universe from a subatomic scale. We’re delighted to see particle physicist, Australian Science Academy Fellow, and AIP past President receive this top honour.

Professor Rachel Webster AO

Prof Webster, from the University of Melbourne, became an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for her research into black holes and the first stars of the Universe. She is an extragalactic astronomy and cosmology expert, and Australia’s second female physics professor. As well as a brilliant scientist, Prof Webster is an ARC ASTRO 3D Chief Investigator, member of the Hubble Space Telescope, co-founder of Women in Physics, Australian Science Academy Fellow, and our first Women In Physics Lecturer.

Associate Professor Maria Parappilly OAM

A/Prof Parappilly from Flinders University was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM). She is a pioneering physics educator and Women In Physics powerhouse, and is pictured here with then President Andrew Peele being awarded her AIP Fellowship.

Canberra astronomer becomes first Australian to win major US science award in 133 years

Professor Lisa Kewley has transformed our understanding of the early years of the Universe, the development of galaxies, and what happens when they collide. 

For her pioneering investigations across theory, modelling and observation, she will receive the US National Academy of Science’s biennial James Craig Watson Medal in Washington DC.

“At school I thought physics would be too hard.  But I had a wonderful physics teacher whose love for astronomy was contagious!” says Professor Kewley.

Today, Professor Kewley is Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for All Sky Astrophysics in 3D (ASTRO 3D) and ARC Laureate Fellow at the Australian National University’s Research School for Astronomy & Astrophysics. She is the first person in Australia and the Southern Hemisphere to be awarded the James Craig Watson Medal.

Professor Kewley says we’re living in a golden era for astronomy: “Early in my career I benefited from the Hubble Space Telescope and the 10 metre Keck telescopes in Hawaii. Students starting today are going to have access to amazing new telescopes including the James Webb Space Telescope, massive new optical telescopes in Chile and the Square Kilometre Array in Australia and South Africa.

“We’re going to require astronomers, engineers, data experts and artificial intelligence to use these new instruments, taking us back to the moment of the Big Bang, finding new planets and more.”

Named after American-Canadian nineteenth century astronomer James Craig Watson, the award has been presented every two years since 1887 “for outstanding contributions to the science of astronomy”. It comprises a $US25,000 personal endowment, $US50,000 for research support and a gold-plated bronze medal.

2020 Victoria Girls In Physics Breakfast dates and locations announced

2020 will be the fifth year of Girls in Physics Breakfasts where students years 10 to 12 share a table with young women in the early stages of a career in physics or engineering and enjoy an address by a prominent scientist.

The full list of dates and locations has been announced, read more here: https://www.vicphysics.org/girls/

International Conference on the Physics of Semiconductors (ICPS 2020)

The 35th International Conference on the Physics of Semiconductors (ICPS) will be held between 9 and 14 August at the International Convention Centre in Sydney, Australia. The biennial meeting is the premier forum for reporting all aspects of semiconductor physics, including electronic, structural, optical, magnetic and transport properties. The conference will reflect the state of the art in the field, which has a heritage dating back to the 1950s. Abstract deadline is March 2.

Read more here: https://www.icps2020.org/

Jobs corner

Postdoctoral Fellow / Research Fellow at The Australian National University, Canberra (Advert)

More info: https://aip.org.au/jobs-2/

An exciting opportunity within the Department of Quantum Science, Research School of Physics, the Australian National University for a Postdoctoral / Research Fellow to develop next-generation automatic three-dimensional volumetric imaging instruments.

The Postdoctoral Fellow/Research Fellow will be a key member of a multi-disciplinary team to develop next-generation automatic three-dimensional volumetric imaging instruments.  

This is to map the features embedded within inorganic and organic materials to improve inspection precision, mapping accuracy and speed.  The Postdoctoral Fellow/Research Fellow will innovate optical imaging, tomographic and metrology techniques for integration as part of a multimodal approach to scientific instrumentation.  The project will in addition involve scientific computing, digital signal processing and mechatronic control as part of the development work.

For more information please contact Associate Professor Jong Chow on T: +61 2 6125 1547 E: jong.chow@anu.edu.au
To apply, visit: https://jobs.anu.edu.au/cw/en/job/535105/postdoctoral-fellow-research-fellow
Applications close: 16 Feb 2020 11:55:00 PM AUS Eastern Daylight Time

The AIP is happy to provide a free link to your physics-related job or PhD opportunity. Please send them to physics@scienceinpublic.com.au. If you would like to feature more details and a picture, please email Kirrily Rule for more information and pricing. 

Aussie Physics in the News

Scientists have found a surprising formula for how to make great coffee
https://www.sbs.com.au/food/article/2020/01/23/scientists-have-found-surprising-formula-how-make-great-coffee

Ghostly particles detected in condensates of light and matter
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/01/200123095846.htm

Physicists trap light in nanoresonators for record time
https://www.nanowerk.com/nanotechnology-news2/newsid=54405.php

This Australian meteor crater is oldest known, says study
https://earthsky.org/earth/australian-yarrabubba-meteor-crater-oldest-known

Murdoch University drops plan to sue whistleblower over student exploitation comments
https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/jan/14/murdoch-university-drops-plan-to-sue-whistleblower-over-student-exploitation-comments

Mathematicians explain an uncertain law of physics
https://cosmosmagazine.com/physics/mathematicians-provide-explanation-for-an-uncertain-law-of-physics

ARC funding upgrades Australia’s fastest laser system
https://news.griffith.edu.au/2020/01/17/arc-funding-upgrades-australias-fastest-laser-system/

Scientists Detect Waves in Spacetime From Biggest Known Neutron Star Collision
https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/wxe5ex/scientists-detect-waves-in-spacetime-from-biggest-known-neutron-star-collision