Category Archives: SA

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:

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.

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

How neutrons will save the world

The Claire Corani Memorial Lecture

The South Australian lecture in the

2019 AIP Women in Physics Lecture Tour

at 6:30pm–7:45pm on Tuesday 20th August 2019

in the Napier 102 Lecture Theatre
Napier Building, the University of Adelaide, North Terrace campus.

Abstract: They are small, neutral and often in a spin, and so much more than ‘just’ part of the atom. Neutrons are the sub-atomic particles that are here to save the world. This trusty particle can be called on to discover the details that no other can fathom. From the shape of a virus and how a drug can disable it, to keeping electrons flowing in the next generation of batteries. Neutrons truly are today’s super particle

Biography: Dr Helen Maynard-Casely is an Instrument Scientist based at ANSTO (the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation) where she uses neutrons to investigate the materials that make up our solar system. She has a PhD in high-pressure physics from the University of Edinburgh and has been lucky enough to have collected data in facilities all over the world.

The Claire Corani Memorial prizes, available for award to the top second-year female Physics student at each SA university in 2018, will be presented at the lecture.

Mid-Year Dinner

Date And Time
Thu, July 18, 2019
6:30 PM – 10:00 PM

The SA Branch of the Australian Institute of Physics will be holding its mid-year dinner and awards night in Kipling’s Restaurant at the Bombay Bicycle Club on Thursday 18th July. Come along for an informal evening with your fellow physicist including students, academics and researchers. Drinks will be from 6.30 pm with the dinner commencing at 7.00 pm.

We will be presenting the Silver Bragg Awards to the top final year students who have completed a Bachelor of Science degree in 2018 with a major in Physics from the University of Adelaide and Flinders University. The 2019 SA Physics Teacher of the Year award will also be acknowledged.

Bombay Bicycle Club
29 Torrens RoadOvingham, SA 5082

Cost: A La Carte (Kipling’s Restaurant Menu – Pay on the night (no separate bills so paying by cash will be greatly appreciated)

The Evolutionary Map of the Universe

Wednesday 3rd of April 2019 at 8pm
Kerr Grant Lecture Theatre
2nd Floor, Physics Building
The University of Adelaide
North Terrace, Adelaide

The Evolutionary Map of the Universe

Professor Ray Norris
CSIRO Astronomy & Space Science &
Western Sydney University

Abstract: The m Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) telescope is nearing completion in Western Australia. One of the key projects driving it is EMU – the Evolutionary Map of the Universe – which has an ambitious goal of studying the sky at radio wavelengths in unprecedented detail, boldly going where no telescope has gone before. Our scientific goal is to figure out how galaxies evolved in the early days of the Universe and how they evolve to the Universe we see today, with stars, planets, rocks, trees, and astronomers. What will we find? How will it change our view of how we got to be here? What is the role of black holes in regulating the growth of galaxies? And given that the most spectacular discoveries in astronomy are unexpected, we will be watching especially carefully for serendipitous discoveries that pop up in the data.

Bio: Professor Ray Norris is a British/Australian astronomer with CSIRO Astronomy & Space Science and Western Sydney University, who researches how galaxies formed and evolved after the Big Bang, and also researches the astronomy of  Aboriginal Australians. He frequently appears on radio and TV, featured in the stage show “The First Astronomers” with Wardaman elder Bill Yidumduma Harney, and has written the novel “Graven Images”.  He was educated at Cambridge University, and University of Manchester, UK, and moved to Australia to join CSIRO, where he became Head of Astrophysics in 1994, and then Deputy Director of the Australia Telescope, and Director of the Australian Astronomy Major National Research Facility, before returning in 2005 to active research. He currently leads an international project (EMU, or Evolutionary Map of the Universe) to understand the origin and evolution of galaxies, using the new Australian SKA Pathfinder radio-telescope nearing completion in Western Australia, and is also pioneering the WTF project to discover the unexpected in astronomical data.

Free – visitors welcome –  booking not required (*Please note – university security locks entrance doors at 8pm sharp*)


106 Halifax St, Adelaide, SA, 5000
12th of March

Physics in the Pub

Workshops and Talks / Cabaret
Scaled fiona panther cropped
Grab a drink and a snack in a relaxed pub environment and listen to local physicists talking & laughing about their research.

Eight snappy physics acts, 8 minutes long from scientists working on astronomy, quantum physics, geophysics and more. Be prepared for comedy, songs, live experiments and heavy duty research.

MC Dr Phil Dooley from Phil Up On Science will keep you entertained and guide you through mind blowing concepts and brain boggling discoveries.

Sponsored by Australian Institute of Physics.

Presented by:
Local Physicists, MC Dr Phil Dooley

From childhood dreams of being an astronomer, Dr Phil Dooley progressed to a PhD in laser physics. After a stint as an IT trainer, he returned to science as a communicator, where he could talk about the fun stuff without the heavy-duty equations.

He regularly MCs Science in the Pub events, and has performed solo in shows and festivals from Adelaide to London, blending music, stand up comedy, fairytales and live science demos. He runs a YouTube channel, Phil Up On Science.

In has career he has taken on bored teenage school kids on physics excursions at University of Sydney; created digital content for the international fusion research organisation, JET; been schooled by a Reuters hack in the ANU media and written for prominent science publishers Nature, New Scientist and Cosmos Magazine.

Bronze Bragg Presentation and Free Public Lecture

Thursday 28th of February 2019 at 6.30 to 7.45 pm
Napier 102 lecture theatre, 1st floor, Napier Building
University of Adelaide

Optical Tweezers ‘Demystified’

Assoc. Professor Bruce Wedding

University of South Australia

Since their invention 32 years ago, optical tweezers have become a powerful tool utilised in a wide variety of experiments in biology and physics. Optical tweezers use light to trap microscopic objects as small as 10 nm using radiation pressure from a focused laser beam. These trapped particles can then be manipulated and forces on the particles in the trap can be measured. The first designs of optical tweezers used high power lasers and expensive optical hardware. Recently however, simple and inexpensive apparatus for undergraduate laboratories can produce a single beam optical tweezer to trap micron-sized particles. Such a system in undergraduate laboratories and the resulting student engagement will be presented.

Interest in microfluidics is also a rapidly expanding area of research and the use of microchips as miniature chemical reactors, so called ‘Labs-on-a-Chip’ is increasingly common. Microfluidic channels are now complex and combine several functions on a single chip. Fluid flow details are important but relatively few experimental methods are available to probe the flow in a confined geometry. We can use optical trapping of a small dielectric particle to probe the fluid flow in microfluidic channels.

Rather than using the optical trap to position and release a particle for independent velocimetry measurement, we map the fluid flow by measuring the hydrodynamic force acting on a trapped particle. The flow rate of a dilute aqueous electrolyte flowing through a microchannel has been mapped using a small (1 µm diameter) silica particle. Such flow mapping is time efficient, reliable, and can be used in low-opacity suspensions flowing in microchannels of various geometries.

The Bronze Bragg medals and certificates will be presented at the lecture. The medal is awarded for highest achievement in Physics in 2018 in the SACE Stage 2 assessments, with certificates being for students who achieved a merit.

 The presentation and lecture will be held in the Napier 102 Lecture Theatre, Napier Building, 1st floor, University of Adelaide, North Terrace, north from Pulteney St., at 6.30pm. Members of the public are warmly invited to attend. We are obliged for security reasons to keep the front door of the building attended, so please arrive before 6.30pm. Bookings are not available. The doors must be closed if all seats are taken.

Enquires: Email via  mob: 0427 711 815.

The Cherenkov Telescope Array – Approaching a New Era of Gamma-Ray Astronomy

CherenkovWednesday 5th of September 2018 at 8pm
Kerr Grant Lecture Theatre
2nd Floor, Physics Building
University of Adelaide
North Terrace, Adelaide

Dr. Sabrina Einecke
University of Adelaide
Abstract: When the term gamma radiation pops up, associations with radioactive hazards may arise. Do we have to be afraid of gamma radiation from space? Fortunately, we don’t have to be, because the Earth’s atmosphere protects us. Unfortunately, it also prevents us from directly observing this radiation from Earth. But it is in the nature of man to be curious to overcome these obstacles to investigate this vicious radiation from space. In 1961, a satellite was the first to detect gamma rays from space. At about the same time, the Cherenkov radiation was discovered – a radiation that is emitted when charged particles move through a medium at the speed of light. This led to a new technique, capable of measuring gamma rays from Earth, and paving the way for ground-based gamma-ray astronomy. However, it took 30 years until an appropriate experiment discovered the first gamma-ray emitting astrophysical source. Since then, hundreds of sources of Galactic and extragalactic origin have been discovered, and higher energies and sensitivities have been reached. The Cherenkov Telescope Array will exceed current experiments in a multitude of aspects: With more than 100 telescopes in 3 sizes at 2 locations equipped with state-of-the-art technologies, it will cover an area of 10 square kilometres on the ground, and it will provide a new view of the sky at energies of up to 300 TeV  – more than a 1000 billion times the energy of visible light. With its unprecedented capabilities, it will refine our knowledge tremendously and will mark the beginning of a new era of gamma-ray astronomy. Deeper insights into this field will be subject of this presentation.

Bio: Born around the time when Cherenkov telescopes made their first discovery, Sabrina Einecke is observing the extreme gamma-ray universe for more than 8 years. She took her first steps in gamma-ray astronomy with the ground-based experiments MAGIC, FACT and CTA. Completing research stays at the Columbia University in New York, she expanded her interests to the utilisation of machine learning approaches to combine a variety of multi-wavelength data to fully exploit the information that is available. This also led to her PhD thesis with the title “The Data Mining Guide to the Galaxy”. According to the German Physical Society, it has been among the best in Germany in 2017. After finishing her PhD studies in Germany, she moved to Australia and now supports the University of Adelaide as a postdoctoral research fellow. Her research focuses on Active Galactic Nuclei – the most extreme objects in the Universe – and data analysis using cutting-edge techniques from the fields of artificial intelligence and machine learning – crucial for handling the immense amount of data collected by next-generation experiments.