The Australian National University

Event Horizon

Research School of Physics


Weekly newsletter | vol 45 no 11 | 16–20 March 2020


Director's Message

Dear Colleagues,

I hope you had a chance to enjoy the fabulous weather this weekend. 

Congratulation to Tim Hume (Nuclear Physics) on winning entry into the prestigious Excellence Scholarship & Opportunity Programme at ETH Zurich.  The scholarship will cover Tim’s full study and living costs during his Masters, complete with access to mentorship and the ETH Foundation. Well done, Tim.

You will have all seen the important email from the VC on Friday afternoon about the ANU response to COVID-19.  Please read it as it contains the most up-to-date guidance and all future local advice will stem from VC communications.  I have had a few questions about group meetings and whether these could continue.  At this stage in the development, and guided by the VC’s advice, I feel small group meetings less that 50 people present a small risk and could proceed, in particular if everyone observes the personal hygiene and social distancing guidelines.  Of course, people can always choose to avoid these meetings but if you do please let the convenor of the meeting know so they can decide whether to postpone the meeting or not.  I’d ask the convenors to observe meeting etiquette and communicate frequently about status of group meetings so people don’t unnecessarily turn up to postponed meetings.  For smaller gatherings Zoom and teleconferences are very effective for colleagues who know each other well. Advice on COVID-19 is constantly being reviewed and the VC’s communications represent the best ANU source of guidance.  

Our SciComm guru, Dr Phil Dooley, is designing our construction banners to go on Parkes Way.  With tens of thousands Canberrans driving past each day it’s a great chance to get our stories out there over the next 18 months.  Apart from some static descriptions of the building purpose we will be adding a dynamic element that will change each month.  In a similar vein to the amusing road-side one-liners that a local turf company displays we would like to have catchy RSPhys head-lines to entertain and invite local drivers to our website (   Phil has created some examples to guide you.  The idea is to have these head-lines relate to existing stories on our web, noting that Phil is continually writing new stories.  I invite everything from witty and tongue-in-cheek to intriguing statements or factoids.  

  • Think Canberra winter’s cold? Our quantum experiments are 100,000 times colder
  • Inventing new materials to make your lightweight carbon fibre bike obsolete.
  • Electric cars? Try a plasma-powered nanosatellite!
  • We watch black holes collide – even more rowdy than question time.

Prizes will be awarded to head-lines that appear on Parkes Way and I'll be ensuring each Department is well represented. Send your suggestions, together with the link to the existing story or a story to be written, to

As I mentioned at the School Forum another EoI will open up for the HDR Convenor this week. I will send a School-wide email to detail requirements for the EoI, which will remain open for 2 weeks.  My many thanks go to Professor Elena Ostrovskaya, who has set high standards for the role and has helped so many students over the past 5 years.  Elena is vacating this role to join the School Executive as our new AD(R).  The AD(HDR) and HDR Convenor from a crucial partnership in the pursuit of excellence in HDR pastoral care, in supervision and in recruitment.  Those who have already submitted an EoI for the AD(HDR) are very welcome to indicate if they would also like to be considered for the Convenor position. 

Our monthly College Executive meeting with the Dean and Directors of Science is on Wednesday. If, at any stage, there are any topics you would like me to table please send them through. The minutes for past meetings are available at;

This week’s pic is one for all the crane enthusiasts, like me.  Have a great week,



In 2019, the College of Science (CoS) Executive Committee endorsed the newly-developed College of Science Academic Performance Standards Guidelines which are posted on the intranet. They are linked from the intranet homepage (under ‘Quick links’) on the Promotion and Performance page. The document is intended to guide Academic staff and their supervisors in the annual Performance Development Review (PDR) discussions and in the process of applying for promotion. 

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NHMRC has opened the 2021 Ideas Grants scheme in Sapphire for applications

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50 Indian agents responsible for recruiting students in the sub-continent are visiting ANU. RSPhys North was selected to provide a series of activities. These included Relativity, Optical Fibre, Solar Energy and Corridor Physics. Andrew Papworth greets the agents with a plea for hockey players and then physics students! Photo by Ruvi Lecamwasam and thanks also to David Stevens, Matthew Wooding and Dige Wang.


Women, compared to men, still engage in more housework and childcare, even if they are engaged in a similar – or greater – number of paid working hours than their partners. The time, energy and concentration required for these unpaid tasks restricts women’s hours on campus and reduce their overall rate of publications. This poorer research track record leads to fewer grant successes and a slower rate of advancement. In addition, research has shown that female academics are four times as likely as male academics to report informal networks that are exclusionary on the basis of gender. Because of these additional challenges experienced by many female researchers, the role of mentoring is especially important.

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School Review Working Parties will release draft Terms of Reference this week, after which the website will go live.


March Seminars

25 March
Dr Sam Jackson
The impact of heterogeneity on multiphase flow across scales: Imaging, upscaling and field cases
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Statistical Consulting Services for HDR Students

The Statistical Consulting Unit is available to Masters and PhD students for their research projects. Statistical support is available for design of experiments and surveys, data management, exploratory data analysis, statistical modelling and data presentation.

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Admin Staff Away

Petra Rickman 10-23 March. Please send all inquiries to


Thanks From the PhB Program

Thank-you to all the people who have volunteered to mentor the incoming PhB students for 2020. Your time with these students is very much appreciated.

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Young Tall Poppy Science Awards

Nominations are open for the 2020 Australian Institute of Policy and Science Young Tall Poppy Science Awards. The Tall Poppy Campaign recognises the achievements of Australian scientists through the prestigious annual Young Tall Poppy Science Awards. Winners of Young Tall Poppy Science Awards (‘Tall Poppies’) engage in activities to promote interest in science among school students and teachers, as well as an understanding and appreciation of science in the broader community. Applications close 15 April.

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Last Chance

The Carers' Career Development Assistance Fund is for individual academic and professional staff with caring responsibilities who require support to participate in significant national or international conferences, workshops or symposia that contribute to their careers. 25 March deadline

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Sensible Precautions - please read.

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Physics South Orientation
Every Monday at 10:00am all new starters are invited to meet at reception to have a short tour of the School’s central areas and receive a welcome pack.

Bookings are not required.



JCS Strategic Priorities Plan

CoS Academic Performance Standards

CV Guidelines


Keep Informed

ANU Events

ANU Reporter



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