Staff arrivals & departures

The School of Physics welcomes the following new staff members:
  • Dr Tara Babaie, Complex Systems
  • Chris Betters, SIfA
  • Dr Kushai Das, Quantum
  • Evan Hefer, SUPER
  • Dr Janez Kos, SIfA
  • Jennifer Lynch, CAASTRO
  • Dr James Maclaurin, Complex Systems
  • Wayne Peacock, Senior Engineer (Electrical & Electronic Systems)
  • Dr Birgit Stiller, CUDOS
  • Dr Jin Wang, Particle Physics
  • Dr Yuanyuan Yang, Quantum

We say farewell and offer our thanks and best wishes to the following staff:
  • Dr Eric Cavalcanti (now at Swinburne University)
  • Dr Matthew Collins
  • Dr Charles Kuehn III (now at the University of Northern Colorado)
  • A/Professor Joerg Lehmann (now at Newcastle Mater Cancer Care Centre)

Vale Professor Harry Messel

Professor Harry Messel AC CBE, a major force in science research, communication and education, and Head of the School of Physics at the University of Sydney for 35 years, passed away on 8 July 2015 at the age of 93.

As Head of the School of Physics from 1952 to 1987, Professor Messel's passion for physics, for education and for the pursuit of excellence inspired generations of scientists and students.

Since retiring, he continued to maintain close ties to the University of Sydney and remained a great supporter of the School of Physics. The newest lecture theatre on campus is named in his honour - the Messel Lecture Theatre, in the Sydney Nanoscience Hub building - which hosted its first lecture on 9 July as part of the International Science School.

Harry Messel was a remarkably dynamic advocate for the importance of science education and research in Australia from the 1950s through to today. We all admire and recognise the many years of service that Harry has given to the University of Sydney and the Australian education system.

In recognition of Professor Messel's significant contributions to physics, teaching and the pursuit of excellence, the University of Sydney has named the Harry Messel Outstanding Achievers Scholarship in his honour.

Vale Associate Professor Murray Winn

Murray Winn, originally from Birmingham in the UK, was appointed to the School in 1959 as a lecturer in the Falkiner Nuclear Department. He was soon promoted to Senior Lecturer in 1963, and then to Associate Professor in 1968. He retired in 1988 but remained very active almost to the end.

Murray was brilliant in electronics with an intrinsic feel for the subject. One career highlight was his design and implementation of a large cosmic ray air shower array - SUGAR - situated near Narrabri in the Pilliga State Forest. The brilliant concept was to link all the recording stations stretched over almost 100 square kilometres, not by cables, but by time-coded radio signals recorded continuously at each station. Coincidences were then searched for in the computer records. The concept was ground-breaking in science and has since been replicated in subsequent experiments around the world.

Murray was in charge of the Senior Physics Laboratory from 1980 to 1988, and his love of science showed in his experiment designs. Many students were encouraged and inspired by Murray's enthusiasm for physics.

Murray died on 19 June 2015, after a short stay in Greenwich Private Hospital.

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ARC Linkage Grants

We congratulate the following staff members for their success in the latest round of ARC Linkage Project Grants:
  • Professor Zdenka Kuncic and Dr Shaghik Atakaramians: A novel scintillating optical fibre array for cancer imaging and therapy.
  • Associate Professor Michael Biercuk: Optical technology for quantum science.

International Research Collaboration Awards

The School received six International Research Collaboration Awards from eight applications. This is an excellent result, and we congratulate the following recipients:
  • Professor Cathy Stampfl to host Professor Peter Kratzer, University of Duisburg-Essen
  • Professor Zdenka Kuncic to host Professor Sandrine Lacombe, University Paris Sud
  • Professor Peter Tuthill to host Dr Christophe Pinte, Universidad de Chile
  • Dr Mark Pelusi to host Dr Hung Nguyen Tan, National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology
  • Dr Archil Kobakhidze to host Professor Zurab Berezhiani, University of L'Aquila
  • Dr Steve Flammia to host Associate Professor Joseph Emerson, University of Waterloo

Grant Success

The astrophotonics group, led by Professor Joss Bland-Hawthorn, has recently secured a $250K grant from Horticulture Australia Ltd to work with the Field Robotics group (PI Sukkarieh) on sensors for food safety. This cross-department collaboration, which also involves scientists at the Charles Perkins Centre, has a long term goal to bid for a major ARC Linkage grant.

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Eureka Prize Finalist

Associate Professor Mike Biercuk is a finalist in the Eureka Prize for Outstanding Early Career Researcher. He is internationally recognised for his outstanding contributions to one of the most exciting and impactful disciplines in modern physics: quantum science. He has built a record of transformative discoveries driving the development of a new generation of advanced technologies based on quantum physics, with important practical applications.

See all the Eureka Prize finalists across Australia at:

Staff Awards

Congratulations to Kate Gunn, COO of CAASTRO, for being awarded a scholarship to attend the Harvard Business School's prestigious Women's Leadership Forum in Boston. The award was announced by Chief Executive Women (CEW) and Women's Leadership Institute Australia (WLIA).

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2015 Selby Research Award

The Selby Scientific Foundation has made available an award ($18,000) to assist an outstanding early career academic to progress their research career. Applications for the award are open to academic staff members who have both teaching and research responsibilities, and who are within five years of their first appointment (contract or continuing) as a Lecturer or Senior Lecturer at the University of Sydney in the physical, chemical or biochemical disciplines. Preference will be given to early career academics who can demonstrate clear evidence of high research potential.

The term of the award is one year, and the total award value is $18,000. The award may be shared by up to two people. Please note that the name and photograph of the successful applicant(s) will be required to be available for publication of the Selby Foundation website, together with a short synopsis of their supported project.

Applications are invited in the form of a one-page submission describing how the award would be used to assist the applicant’s research career. Applications must include a curriculum vitae, and be forwarded to the Research Support Manager by Monday 31 August. As a further condition of the award, a brief report must to be provided for the Selby Scientific Foundation by the successful candidate/s at the completion of the award period.

The annual award is made by a Committee of the Faculty of Science, chaired by the Dean (or Dean’s nominee) with membership including the Associate Dean (Research), the Research Support Manager and the Heads of the Schools of Chemistry, Molecular Biosciences and Physics, or their nominees.

Physics Early Career Research Staff Development Funding

As part of the School’s efforts to increase the diversity of its academic staff, the School will consider contributing funds towards attendance by Early Career Researchers* (ECRs) at external (non-research) workshops or short courses related to development of leadership or management skills, or equity, access and diversity in the workplace or in careers in science. All ECR staff may apply, but preference will generally be given to ECRs who are women or represent a minority group within the School’s staff. The workshops must not duplicate similar workshops available within the University.

Funding will normally be no more than 50% of the cost of the workshop. Applications will be accepted twice per year, in March and September, but may be awarded retrospectively in exceptional circumstances. Any applicant would normally be eligible for funding of no more than one workshop per year.

Applications should be emailed to the Research Administration Coordinator, briefly describing the workshop, the benefit to the applicant and to the School, and comparing the proposed workshop to any related internal university programs. Check by logging into CareerPath and look through Browse for training.

Decisions on funding will be made by the Head of School, based on advice from the School Management Committee and/or PEAC.  Successful applicants will be asked to share what they learn with interested members of the School.

Initially, up to $5000 per year will be available for this program.

Professional staff may access support from the Professional Staff Development Fund.
* Following the ARC definition, ECRs are researchers who are within five years of the start of their research careers when they submit their applications. This normally means that they have been awarded a PhD or equivalent research doctorate within five years, however, an extension to this limit may be allowed owing to significant career interruptions.

2015 NSW-AIP Postgraduate Awards

Nominations for the 2015 NSW-AIP Postgraduate Award are now open. A description appears below, but in brief the award recognises outstanding research contributions by PhD students. The School will submit one nominee to represent USyd at the annual awards day, during which the student will give a talk about their work.

Nominations are to be submitted to Physics Student Services by Friday 28 August 2015 and should consist of a 1-page letter describing the student's contribution. Supporting material (e.g. relevant publications) are encouraged.

Each New South Wales University is invited to nominate one student to compete for the $500 prize and Postgraduate medal. The Royal Society of NSW will also award the Jak Kelly Scholarship prize of $500 as a separate award category for this event.

Students are asked to make a 20-minute presentation on their postgraduate research in Physics, and the presentation will be judged on the criteria: (1) content and scientific quality, (2) clarity and (3) presentation skills.

Students nominated for the awards will also be invited as guests for the NSW AIP Branch annual dinner that follows the presentations. These awards have been created to encourage excellence in postgraduate work, and all nominees who participate in the Postgraduate Awards Day will receive a special certificate recognising the nominee's high standing.

This event is proudly sponsored by the Australian Institute of Physics, the Royal Society of New South Wales and the CSIRO.

C9-G08 Postgrad Student "Big Data" Forum in Nanjing

Higher degree by research students from all disciplines are invited to apply for scholarship funding to attend the Graduate Perspectives from China and Australia forum in Nanjing, 28 October to 1 November 2015. This year’s forum has the theme of ‘Big Data’. Deadline for applications is 9.00am Monday 17 August 2015. Find more details at:

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Sydney Nanoscience Hub, A31

The Sydney Nanoscience Hub (SNH), as the AIN building is now officially named, opened for teaching on Monday 27 July. Professor Anne Green gave the first Semester 2 lecture in the Messel Lecture Theatre to stream one of the PHYS1003 Technological class.

Quantum staff have begun moving into their new offices in the SNH. Quantum students are expected to move into their office space in the near future.

Over the coming months, CUDOS and Quantum people will move into their new laboratories in the SNH.

Physics Building, A28

The formal redevelopment funding for the Physics building has been approved by CIS and the Senior Executive Group (SEG). Refurbishment of level 3 west will create space for SIfA and CAASTRO staff and students to be relocated on campus.

Sydney Astrophotonic Instrumentation Labs (SAIL)

The Sydney Astrophotonic Instrumentation Labs (SAIL) are now under construction in the basement of A28, with completion expected in late July 2015. These labs will deliver cutting edge facilities, including a clean room, for developing ground and space based telescope instrumentation. The total budget for the new equipment and renovation is $2.35M.

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Ordering of Hazardous Chemicals

As a Faculty we have been asked to centralise the purchasing of chemicals, and stop the use of corporate cards for chemical purchases.
Anyone ordering hazardous chemicals, please do so through the Finance Purchasing Officer, Geraldine Arriesgado. Geraldine will compile a weekly purchase list for David Beech to complete a compliance and safety check. If in doubt whether a chemical is classified as hazardous, the default should be to order through Geraldine.
If a student is ordering a chemical, the order should have the signature approval of the account owner or Supervisor.

Ergonomics Safety Campaign

Information regarding Ergonomics can be found on the University WHS website, or on the WHS Noticeboard in the A28 Tea Room, Redfern, Madsen and Carslaw 1st Year Teaching lab.

Monthly Safety Committee Meeting Minutes are placed on the WHS Noticeboard in the A28 Tea Room so that you are up to date on any decisions taken or pending regarding health and safety in the School.  

Please do not hesitate to contact any member of the Safety Committee if you have any questions regarding Work, Health and Safety in the School.

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ICT Shared Services and Physics

For assistance with any of the following:
  • all ICT AV services, issues, requests
  • all telephone services, issues, requests
  • all WiFi issues (UniSydney, UniSydney-Guest, EduRoam)
Call an ICT Support Officer on 9351 6000 and press 0.

For services not supported by ICT, such as Skype, users need to make a request through the Physics IT Support website.

If Physics users have any difficulties with ICT, or Physics IT services, or handling of support requests, report them immediately to the IT Support Manager, Dr Sebastian Juraszek, using the online feedback form.

SNH Meeting Rooms

SNH Level 3 Meeting Rooms can be booked using Microsoft Outlook. Check availability by searching for the building code *A31.

SNH Level 4 Meeting Rooms must be booked directly through Trudy Fernan

Booking Systems

A reminder that the School Booking system is now in place to self-book the following rooms and resources:
  • School Vehicles
  • Conference Phone
  • Data Projector
  • Foundation Room 208
  • Tutorial Room 414A
  • Tea Room
  • Rosehill Street Boardroom
  • Parking Permit
The Web Helpdesk should be used for HR, Finance, building and cleaning issues, Cab Charge and Parking Vouchers, Key Requests and Security Access requests.

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