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AIP Certificate of Excellence in Physics for QLD Year 12 students

The Queensland Branch of the Australian Institute of Physics calls for nominations from Queensland schools for 2020 AIP Certificates for Excellence in Physics.

This certificate is awarded to students with a confirmed raw result for internal assessment of 27/30 (90%) (or IB level 7) as of the beginning of Term 4.  The committee’s aim is to make these certificates of achievement available to schools for presentation at the school’s final year 12 assembly or speech night late in term four.

To nominate students, please use the “AIP [School Name] Certificate Mail Merge Spreadsheet 2020”. Please complete this spreadsheet, replacing the words ‘[School Name]’ with the name of your school in the file name.

Send your completed spreadsheet, as an email attachment, to no later than 3 p.m. on Friday 16 October 2020 in order to have certificates to you in time for your school’s presentation. Please submit your nominations any time from now. Submissions after the date may not be able to be provided prior to any award ceremony.

Correct use of the spread sheet makes this process quick and simple. Remember, the committee loves to hear your good news stories about the impact these certificates have on your students!

Meet an astronaut

Dr Epps video recording for the Claire Corani Memorial Lecture:

Dr Jeanette Epps
Obtained a bachelor’s degree in physics in 1992 from LeMoyne College in her hometown of Syracuse, New York. She completed a master’s degree in science in 1994 and a doctorate in aerospace engineering in 2000, both from the University of Maryland, College Park.
While earning her doctorate, Epps was a NASA Graduate Student Researchers Project fellow, authoring several journal and conference articles on her research. After completing graduate school, she worked in a research laboratory for more than two years, co-authoring several patents, before the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) recruited her. She spent seven years as a CIA technical intelligence officer before her selection as a member of the 2009 astronaut class.

NASA Experience:
Dr. Epps was selected in July 2009 as one of 9 members of the 20th NASA astronaut class. Her Astronaut Candidate Training included Russian Language training, spacewalk training (EVA), robotics, T‐38 jet training, geology and National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) training. After graduating Dr. Epps continued training by participating in NEEMO (NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operation), geologic studies in Hawaii, and language immersion in Moscow as well as continued training in EVA, robotics and T‐38.

NASA has assigned astronaut Jeanette Epps to NASA’s Boeing Starliner-1 mission, the first operational crewed flight of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft on a mission to the International Space Station.

Epps will join NASA astronauts Sunita Williams and Josh Cassada for a six-month expedition planned for a launch in 2021 to the orbiting space laboratory. The flight will follow NASA certification after a successful uncrewed Orbital Flight Test-2 and Crew Flight Test with astronauts.


  • How did you go from being a CIA agent to an Astronaut?
  • Do you think Space Tourism will be possible?
  • Do you think the Artemis program will fulfil its goal of sending humans back to the Moon by 2024?
  • I would like to know about the rigour and nature of the preparations for the travel to the moon in 2024 and the aims and expected duration of the mission; what is her current involvement in this?
  • Do you think feasible beyond the moon travel, will the SpaceX Mars program fulfill its goal of a manned flight to Mars in 2024?
  • Did she have an inspiration or a role model that she looked up to become an astronaut?
  • How on earth do you go from CIA to Astronaut?
  • What has been your biggest challenge in as an astronaut?
  • Are there any specific challenges for females in the industry that you work in?
  • Hypothetical: if you had contact with an off world species, is there a protocol for that and what is it… or is that not something that is considered. 
  • What is the likelihood of being hit by a small piece of space debris on a space walk?
  • Besides during your T-38 training, how often do you get to fly in the T-38?
  • What physical/survival training is required to be an astronaut?

The Claire Corani Memorial Lecture

by Dr Jeanette J. Epps, NASA Astronaut

at 9:00am–10:00am on Friday 28th August 2020

in the South 1 Lecture Theatre
off Anchor Court, South Ridge (near car parks 7, 8 and 9)
Flinders University

Biography: Jeanette J. Epps (Ph.D.) was selected as an astronaut in 2009.  She completed astronaut candidate training which included scientific and technical briefings, intensive instruction in International Space Station systems, spacewalk training, robotics, T-38 flight training and wilderness survival training.  The New York native was a NASA Fellow during graduate school and authored several journal and conference articles.  Dr. Epps worked for Ford Motor Company where she received both a provisional patent and a U.S. patent.  After leaving Ford, she joined the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) as a Technical Intelligence Officer before becoming an astronaut.

NASA Experience: Dr. Epps was selected in July 2009 as one of 9 members of the 20th NASA astronaut class. Her Astronaut Candidate Training included Russian Language training, spacewalk training (EVA), robotics, T-38 jet training, geology and National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) training. After graduating Dr. Epps continued training by participating in NEEMO (NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operation), geologic studies in Hawaii, and language immersion in Moscow as well as continued training in EVA, robotics and T-38. Dr. Epps served as a representative to the Generic Joint Operation Panel working on crew efficiency on the space station as well as other topics, served as a Crew Support Astronaut for two expeditions, and served as lead CAPCOM in mission control.

The Claire Corani Memorial prizes, available for award to the top second-year female Physics student at each AIP-accredited SA university in 2019, will be presented at the lecture.

Due to Covid-19 restrictions, if you plan attending in person please register with the AIP secretary:


The AIP-QLD is 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 24 July 2020.

QLD Excellence in PHYSICS TEACHing AWARD 2019

We received several outstanding nominations last year and are very pleased to announce Richard Walding as the prize winner for our 2019 Excellence in Physics Teaching Award.

The award recognises outstanding efforts by Queensland physics teachers in stimulating student engagement with physics, developing innovative teaching resources or techniques as an effective educator, and/or mentoring and facilitating the development of other physics educators.

Richard’s contributions have been particularly noteworthy including the development of the Oxford Senior Physics texts and extensive online resources for students and teachers. He helped create the Physics Discussion List and continues to have an active role, offering advice to fellow educators. In addition, he has contributed to state-level curriculum development and oversight and has been very active in delivering physics education seminars for teachers both locally and overseas.

So we sincerely congratulate Richard and thank him for his contributions to physics education!

We will be calling for nominations for the 2020 Excellence in Physics Teaching award in coming months.

Bronze Bragg Presentation and Free Public Lecture

6:30 pm, Thursday February 20th 2020

 The Braggs lecture theatre in the Braggs building

University of Adelaide (North Terrace campus)

On the 2019 Nobel Prize

“A short history of the universe – as we understand it today”

Prof. Rachel Webster

University of Melbourne


Most of the universe is made of Hydrogen; indeed, in the early universe, there were essentially no elements heavier than Hydrogen and Helium. During this talk Professor Webster will trace the history of the universe, using Hydrogen as the primary focus. She will explain the bits we understand and some of the key questions we are addressing today.  The efforts of Australian astronomers will be highlighted, as well as some of the new telescopes that will be operating in the next few years. 

The Bronze Bragg medals and merit certificates will be presented at the lecture.

The medals are awarded for highest achievement in Physics in 2019 in the SACE Stage 2 assessments and IB Higher Level Physics, with certificates being for students who achieved a merit or a grade of 7.

2019 Annual General Meeting QLD Branch

Members of the Australian Institute of Physics, Queensland Branch.

You are invited to attend the upcoming Annual General Meeting.

The AGM will be held on the 15 November from 4pm – 5:30pm, Room E207, E Block, Queensland University of Technology, Gardens Point Campus.

I am very pleased to announce that the QLD nominee for the 2019 Bragg Gold Medal, Dr Satya Undurti, will be presenting his research prior to the AGM. More information about his presentation are provided below.

The expected timing of the proceedings will be as follows:

4.00pm – 4.50pm      Dr Satya Undurti presents his research

5.00pm – 5.30pm      AGM

For catering purposes it would be appreciated if you could register your attendance by Thursday  the 14th of November to . Catering will involve pizza and cold drinks.

We additionally hope to stream the presentation online using the Zoom platform. You can join us at AEST 4pm-5:30pm here.

Additionally, part of the business for the AGM will be to elect the branch committee for 2020.

As per the AIP by-laws, the retiring committee has made nominations for next year’s committee, and these are listed below:

Joel Alroe (Chair) (QUT),

Joanna Turner  (Secretary) (USQ),

Scott Adamson (Vice-Chair) (All Hallows),

Igor Litvinyuk (Treasurer) (GU),

Carolyn Brown (USQ),

Scott Hoffman (post-graduate student representative UQ),

Austin Lund (UQ),

Nunzio Motta (QUT),

Till Weinhold (UQ)

Members may make further nominations, which need to be duly proposed and seconded and forwarded to the Secretary at least 24 hours before the AGM, directed to . I look forward to seeing you on 15th November!

Dr Satya Undurti

Title: ‘Attoclock’ experiments on atomic and molecular hydrogen

Abstract: This thesis describes strong-field ionization experiments on atomic and molecular hydrogen using an ultrashort-pulse laser source and a sophisticated electron/ion detection setup called a reaction microscope (REMI). It aims at benchmarking strong-field physics with the help of precision measurements performed on the simplest atomic (H) and molecular (H2) systems. This work resulted in a definitive resolution of a long-standing controversy on measurement, value and interpretation of quantum tunneling time – determining that electron tunneling in atomic hydrogen is instantaneous within experimental precision (tunneling time is less than 1.8 attoseconds, or 1.8×10-18 seconds) and ruling out all previously proposed theoretical definitions of tunneling time.

A space Adventure

at 6.30pm on Wednesday 9th Oct 2019

The Braggs Lecture Theatre,
The University of Adelaide, North Terrace

Abstract: Selected as an astronaut candidate by NASA in April 1996, Daniel Tani went on to spend 120 days living and working aboard the International Space Station. During his tour of duty aboard the station, he performed numerous robotic operations and logged a total of 34 hours and 59 minutes during five spacewalks. Come and hear about his amazing space adventure and what it is like to live and work in space.

Bio: Daniel Tani received his Bachelors and Master of Science degrees in Mechanical Engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1984 and 1988, respectively, in addition to an Honorary Doctorate of Science from Elmhurst College (IL) 2003. Dr Tani worked at Hughes Aircraft Corporation, as a Design Engineer in the Space and Communications group, in the Experimental Psychology department of Bolt Beranek and Newman, and in 1988, he went on to join the Orbital Sciences Corporation (OSC), initially as a Senior Structures Engineer and then as the Mission Operations Manager for the Transfer Orbit Stage (TOS). In that role, he served as the TOS Flight Operations lead, working with NASA/JSC Mission Control in support of the deployment of the Advanced Communications Technology Satellite (ACTS)/TOS payload during the STS-51 mission in Sep 1993. Dr Tani then moved to the Pegasus program at OSC as the Launch Operations Manager. He held technical duties in the Astronaut Office Computer Support Branch, and EVA Branch and served as a Crew Support Astronaut (CSA) for Expedition 4. In 2002, he was a crew member on the Aquarius undersea research habitat for nine days as part of the NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO)-2 mission. Dr Tani then trained and qualified as the backup Flight Engineer for Expedition 11. After his flight on Expedition 16, Dr Tani served as Branch Chief of the International Space Station branch. He also served as a Capsule Communicator (CAPCOM) for the International Space Station and was the lead CAPCOM for Expedition 26. Tani left NASA in August 2012 to become the Vice President of Mission and Cargo Operations in the Advanced Programs Group of Orbital Sciences Corporation.

SPACEFLIGHT EXPERIENCE: Dr Tani served as Mission Specialist 2 on STS-108 Endeavour. On his second spaceflight, Dr Tani served as Expedition-16 Flight Engineer and spent 120 days living and working aboard the International Space Station. He launched to the Station aboard STS-120 and returned aboard STS-122.

Free – visitors welcome – booking not required

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.”