Category Archives: Bulletin

AIP fights physics education cuts, photovoltaics and machine-learning, Hidden Physicists, and physics springs into September

Over the past month, the AIP has been lobbying against proposed proposed Federal Government legislation set to significantly cut funding for science degrees in Australia. We believe this will impoverish both teaching and research  ultimately damaging Australia’s ability to produce top-quality physics graduates.

We are grateful to all the members who responded to our call for feedback during the government’s short consultation period. I wish to acknowledge the hard work of A/Prof Gerd Schröder-Turk, the AIP Policy officer who pulled together the AIP submission under difficult circumstances.  It was great to see our submission picked up by many news outlets, including the ABC and Campus Morning Mail. This month’s picture is a screen shot of the story in the Financial Review. See more on this issue below.

This month’s AIP live-streamed event is from Exciton Science and focusses on machine learning to predict the properties of photovoltaic material. Read on for details. And if you missed the 2020 Einstein Lecture ‘The World According to Physics’, co-organised by the AIP NSW branch, you can catch it here.

Read on to meet this month’s Hidden Physicist – communicator and comedian Phil Dooley.

Check out our new regular feature – From the Vault, from the AIP’s magazine, Australian Physics. Our Australian Physics editors, Peter Kappen and David Hoxley, are also seeking articles, poems, cartoons, book reviews – and an editorial assistant! Read on for details.

As always, in this edition of the bulletin you’ll find lots of physics news, physics awards and some excellent physics jobs.

Finally, I am sure many of you will join me in rejoicing that winter 2020 is officially over. Happy Wattle Day!

Kind regards,

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

Continue reading AIP fights physics education cuts, photovoltaics and machine-learning, Hidden Physicists, and physics springs into September

the photonics economy, quantum computing, alien life, the search for a lecturer and more physics fun in August

One of our cognate societies – the newly rebranded Australian and New Zealand Optical Society – has launched a report called The Future is Bright: The Photonics Industry in New Zealand and Australia.

It is impressive to see the scope and impact of this industry. I think that in the post-COVID-19 Australian-based manufacturing sector, it will become even more important.

There’s good news on the recommencement of visa processing for international students – even though the borders remain closed. This is an issue that Science & Technology Australia, of which the AIP is a member, has highlighted with the Federal Government. See more below.

Outcomes for the ARC Future Fellowships were announced last week. We congratulate the physicists who were successful. Read on for details.

If you ask most people to nominate their two most exciting areas of science, chances are you’d get a lot of votes for quantum computing and looking for alien life.

Well, we’ve got both in this bulletin, with AIP lectures on solutions to scaling up the first and better ways to hunt for the second.

You’ll also get to meet our latest Hidden Physicist – NSW education analyst and LGBTQ activist Dr Sarah Midgely OAM.

We’re looking for an outstanding female physicist to become our 2021 Women in Physics lecturer. See below for more details.

Read on, too, for news on some upcoming events and awards, and some of the great media stories generated by Australian physicists in recent weeks.

Good luck to all the students and staff heading back to universities around Australia for classes – both in person and virtually. 

This month’s pic features me lecturing at ANU. I’m wearing a mask to protect my students as I teach my class. As a native of Victoria, my thoughts are with those in Melbourne battling the current surge in COVID-19 cases. Masks have been shown to reduce the spread of droplets and aerosols while we talk and breathe, and it makes sense we all start to accept them as part of daily life.

Kind regards,

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

Continue reading the photonics economy, quantum computing, alien life, the search for a lecturer and more physics fun in August

Black Lives Matter, gravity wave detector, Hidden Physicist in review, physics in the news, and more physics fun in July

This month’s photo is the AIP National Executive team on a recent Zoom meeting. I’m sure many of you have had hours and hours of such meetings over the past few months and for those who are doing online teaching or learning I sincerely hope you get a wonderful mid-year break and stay well.

This month we welcomed the news that Murdoch University has dropped its legal action against AIP member Dr Gerd Schroder-Turk. The AIP strongly defends the rights of staff and students to respectfully question their organisations in the pursuit of excellence, equality, and freedom of speech.

Read the latest on the case below.

We also added our voice to the statement released by Science and Technology Australia supporting the #BlackLivesMatter and #AboriginalLivesMatter movements. Read the full statement below.

On June 19 the government’s proposed education package was announced which will see students paying much more for various humanities degrees but also a total funding reduction for science of about $4,758 per student. I spoke to a Times Higher Education reporter about my disappointment at this announcement. You can find the story later in this bulletin.

In this bulletin we look back on a full year of our Hidden Physicists, #PhysicsGotMeHere series. I am always in awe of all the amazing things people do with a physics degree.

The proposed Australian high-frequency gravitational wave detector is the subject of the next AIP-FLEET seminar. Read on for details.

Nominations are open for the AIP Executive roles, including President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer and Registrar. See below.

Huge congratulations to CSIRO Chief Scientist and past AIP president Dr Cathy Foley AO, and 2011 Women in Physics lecturer Professor Tamara Davis AM, who were both recognised in the recent Queen’s Birthday Honours List. See below for details.

From X-ray-spewing pulsars to a citizen science project measuring light pollution, there have been some brilliant stories of Australian physics in the news recently. Take a look at our top picks below.

And, of course, you’ll find listings for exciting physics jobs and other upcoming events.

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

Continue reading Black Lives Matter, gravity wave detector, Hidden Physicist in review, physics in the news, and more physics fun in July

Australia’s Quantum Future, Physicists Honoured, Hidden Physicist, Physics in the News, and more physics fun in June

As COVID-19 continues to shape our lives it is heartening to see the Australian scientific community rising to the challenge.

AIP is a member of Science and Technology Australia, which is part of the Rapid Research Information Forum collaboration led by Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel. I encourage you to read through the rapid response reports provided to government. You can find them here.

And with COVID in mind we have extended the time to nominate a colleague or student for an AIP medal or award. See below.

We’ve published a list of our AIP Fellows. You can apply to become a Fellow of the AIP by completing the online application form.

Read on, too, to meet our Hidden Physicist for the month. Matthew Wiggins is a health physicist providing radiation science solutions to the Queensland Government, as well as to public and private sector clients.

I congratulate all the new Fellows of the Australian Academy of Science who were recently announced. I was delighted to see physics was well represented. Congratulations to three AIP members – Cathy Foley, Ping Koy Lam, Tim Bedding – who were elected this round. See below for details.

I also congratulate Professor Warwick Bowen on being the recipient of the 2020 Barry Inglis Medal from the National Measurement Institute, and ANU student Marika Niihori who will be heading to the UK with a Gates Cambridge Scholarship. Read about them further on.

Recently Cathy Foley launched the National Quantum Roadmap, which started from a meeting at an AIP congress back in 2016. We’re holding an online forum, discussing the future of quantum technology in Australia, on June 4. In July, there is another, on the future of the gravitational wave detector. Read on for details.

From missing matter to a cosmic ring of fire, there have been some excellent stories of Australian physics in the news recently. You can find a good selection below.

And of course, you’ll find listings for exciting physics jobs.


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

Continue reading Australia’s Quantum Future, Physicists Honoured, Hidden Physicist, Physics in the News, and more physics fun in June

First in new series of ARC Centre talks, Extension of closing date for AIP Prize nominations, Solar Cell Windows, and more physics in May

I hope you’re coping well with the current challenges and not getting magnets stuck up your nose (sorry Dr Daniel Reardon – keep on innovating!).  

It’s great to see the AIP community remaining hard at work, educating, and creating physics events.

A number of our events are already moving online, including the former Physics in the Pub, which is now Physics in the Cloud. Members are also invited to attend virtual talks put on by FLEET, the first one by our own Dr Kirrily Rule. More details below.

Yet more events are being rescheduled. I am happy to announce that the next AIP Congress will now be held from December 5 to 10, 2021, in Adelaide.

This bulletin includes the AIP’s statement on physics education post-COVID which aims to emphasise the importance of face-to-face teaching and learning once we all get ‘back to normal’. And we meet our Hidden Physicist for the month: Sarah Lugay, who is a cyber security expert for EY.

The nominations for the NSW Community Outreach to Physics Award have opened. See below for details.

In physics news, we are excited that windows will soon generate electricity, following a solar cell breakthrough by the ARC Centre of Excellence in Exciton Science. Read about it further on.

Plus the Australian Academy of Science and Australia’s other learned academies have launched a COVID-19 Expert Database. See below for details on how you can contribute.

Keep on washing those hands and stay connected.

Kind regards,

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

Continue reading First in new series of ARC Centre talks, Extension of closing date for AIP Prize nominations, Solar Cell Windows, and more physics in May

How the AIP is managing the Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation, awards and prize nominations open, 58-year-old puzzle solved, and more physics in April

Firstly, I hope you are coping as best as you can with the COVID-19 pandemic crisis. It’s a tough time for everyone and I’m encourage people to do what they can to look out for each other. The response to the pandemic has meant big changes for us all as we adjust to laboratory shutdowns, online teaching, and deal with cancelled travel and events.

There has been a flurry of e-meetings and emails over the past week within the AIP and I am heartened to report that we continue to work hard to support and connect the Australian Physics community. Of course, COVID-19 is going to cause our face-to-face events to be cancelled or postponed, but we hope to take what we can online. Sadly, however, we have had to postpone our Congress, which was to be held in Adelaide in December. More details below.

The eligibility criteria have been announced for the AIP NSW Best Graduating Student annual prize. See below for details.

In this bulletin we meet another Hidden Physicist. Dr Jonathan Hall who is the co-founder and director of Life Whisperer, company that uses a machine-learning medical imaging technique to improve IVF pregnancy rates.

I was saddened to hear that former AIP national president Emeritus Professor Geoff Wilson passed away in January. As AIP president he helped form what is now Science & Technology Australia to more effectively lobby government. You can read more about him below.

A 58-year-old puzzle has been cracked on the way to a quantum breakthrough by scientists at UNSW. Read more below.
And the review of the decadal plan for physics needs case studies. See below for details on how you can contribute.

Kind regards,

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

Continue reading How the AIP is managing the Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation, awards and prize nominations open, 58-year-old puzzle solved, and more physics in April

Awards and Prize nominations open, ARC Senate Order passed, Call for stories, and more physics in March

It is my great pleasure to announce that Dr Cathy Foley has been made an Honorary Fellow of the AIP. I wholeheartedly congratulate Cathy for her contributions to physics. This month’s bulletin picture is of the AIP council members applauding after the motion was passed unanimously at our annual council meeting recently. More details below.

That event and our Annual General Meeting were held in Melbourne in early February. It was a great opportunity for representatives to come together to plan and make decisions for the year ahead. Our wonderful Honorary Secretary, Kirrily Rule, has written a great report which I encourage you to read; see below for details.

The review of the decadal plan for physics is seeking case studies for the publication. See below for details on how you can contribute.

In this bulletin we meet another Hidden Physicist with a wonderful career story. Andreas Schreiber leads the bioinformatics groups of the Centre of Cancer Biology and the Australian Cancer Research Foundation (ACRF) Cancer Genomics Facility in Adelaide.

I was thrilled to hear the news at the end of February that the Senate has ordered a change to the way Australian Research Council grants are announced. This is a big improvement for researchers, and for transparency. Read 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 be on the look-out for news soon about the AIP Congress 2020, which will be held in Adelaide from 7 to 11 December.

Kind regards,

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

Continue reading Awards and Prize nominations open, ARC Senate Order passed, Call for stories, and more physics in March

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

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

AIP Summer Meeting, Awards, Hidden Physicists and jobs; new committees, and more physics in December

In this bulletin – the last for 2019 – we meet our final Hidden Physicist for the year – Max Post, who is using his physics smarts learned at RMIT university in his role as an Area Operations Manager at Holcim Australia. We hope you have enjoyed seeing the amazing careers undertaken by physics graduates in Australia. I know I have really appreciated hearing about them and we be continuing the series in 2020 in keeping with our commitment to promoting diversity of careers.

This month’s photo is a happy selfie taken by Professor Ken Baldwin at Science Meets Parliament last week. Dr Tim Van Der Laan, who is a Special Project Officer for AIP Outreach, had the pleasure to present Ken with the AIP Award for Outstanding Service to Physics in Australia for his vision and support in establishing Science Meets Parliament. More below.

I had a wonderful visit to Sydney to take part in the NSW Postgraduate Awards and Career day and am looking forward to attending the AIP summer meeting in Melbourne this week. As part of this event, the Physics Industry and Job Fair will be held on Tuesday, 3 December, between 1:30pm and 3pm in the RMIT. More details below.

The AIP has been busy with lobbying – with two members (both early career physicists) attending Science Meets Parliament. I wrote an article on the delays in funding announcements from the ARC in The Conversation, which resulted in a discussion of this issue on the floor of parliament.

Also in this month’s bulletin you’ll find details for two of next year’s AIP state branch committees, plus some well-deserved congratulations on awards and grants. 

Finally, a reminder that with the end of the year comes AIP membership renewal time and we are changing some of the ways we handle our database. You will see some big changes in this in the new year. More below.

All in all, it’s been a great year for the AIP – and for physics around the world. And next year, with all that’s going on and all that’s planned, promises to be better still.

On behalf of the AIP, may I wish everyone a happy and safe holiday season, and an optimistic New Year. 
  Kind regards,

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

Continue reading AIP Summer Meeting, Awards, Hidden Physicists and jobs; new committees, and more physics in December

2019 Nobel Prize in Physics awarded; Eleven physicists among 2019 Future Fellowships; and more physics in November

We’re heading into an exciting time for AIP. There are some great events set to run in NSW and WA this month. And in Melbourne, the second biennial AIP Summer Meeting will be held at RMIT on Friday, December 6. Hurry, though – registration closes on November 16!  

Last month we issued a statement in support of AIP member and Murdoch University physicist Dr Gerd Schröder-Turk. We stand by our statement of support and urge the university to drop their legal action. Read the full statement here.

I spent a great day with participants at a Women’s writing workshop supported in part by the AIP. (See pic)

The Vicphysics Teachers’ Network invites women in physics or engineering to be a keynote speaker at one of its Girls in Physics Breakfasts. The events give students in Years 10 to 12 the opportunity to network and meet women in the early stages of STEM careers. Nominations close Friday, 29th November. More below.  

Congratulations to the new ARC Centre of Excellence of Transformative Meta-Optical Systems and the eleven physicists awarded ARC Future Fellowships in October! Read more about them below.

We are excited to host the IUPAP International Conference on Women in Physics, to be held in Melbourne July 2020. Read more below.

Hopefully you’ve been enjoying the diversity of careers highlighted in our Hidden Physicist column. This month we meet Virginia Drumm, a radiation oncology medical physicist who looks after a linear accelerator used to deliver radiotherapy at millimetre accuracies to treat cancer patients. More below.

(And don’t hesitate to get in touch if you’d like to nominate someone for the column!)

And at the WA Branch AIP AGM on Thursday, November 14, hear from David Blair about what the OzGrav Centre of Excellence and the LIGO-Virgo teams have discovered. Enquiries and tickets here.

Also in this month’s bulletin: the 2019 Nobel Prize in Physics, Dirac medal nominations open, and find an opportunity in our Jobs Corner.

Kind regards,

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

Continue reading 2019 Nobel Prize in Physics awarded; Eleven physicists among 2019 Future Fellowships; and more physics in November