The Australian National University

Event Horizon

Research School of Physics


Weekly newsletter | vol 46 no 15 | 19–23 April 2021


Director's Message

Dear Colleagues,

I hope you enjoyed the wonderful weather this weekend, a nice way to end the two week break. Last week I had the pleasure to attend a celebration of Dr Robert Ward’s contributions over the past decade with DQS/CGA. Credited as “the student who made LIGO work”, Robert came to ANU bringing a deep understanding of measurement theory and was a key contributor to many of the visionary projects out of this group. Never afraid to think on a grand scale his Breakthrough Starshot project proposes a ground-based laser array to accelerate a gram-scale spacecraft through photon radiation pressure, requiring of order 100 GW of continuous wave optical power. The teams recent concept paper illustrates the huge benefit in thinking at scale, for me this work encapsulates the opportunities Physics can lead when dare to dream. I would like to wish Robert all the best in his new career and thank him personally for leading the development of the MSc(Precision Instrumentation and Measurement). Above, Dr Bram Slagmolen, presents a commemorative gift to Robert (image: Chathura Bandutunga).

Also from the Centre for Gravitational Astrophysics, it is my pleasure to congratulate Professors Susan Scott and David McClelland on their promotions to the level of Distinguished Professor (E3).  Awarded by the Vice-Chancellor, Distinguished Professorship is reserved for those who achieve the outstanding National and International recognition in the name of the University.

On Thursday the current and incoming Heads of Department will be meeting to discuss the processes around creating the new departments. If you have items you would like them to bring up to the meeting please let your Head know by Wednesday afternoon.

Have a good week.


New Indirect Costs of Research and Consultancies Policy

Indirect Cost Recovery Drop-In sessions will be running across April and May and are an opportunity for researchers and delegates to become fully up to speed with the new policy and how it impacts them. The drop-in sessions will run for an hour, and provides a forum for academics and delegates to come and ask their questions about the new Indirect Costs of Research and Consultancies Policy. There will also be a short presentation about the new Funding Portal, including where more information can be found about the new policy. College specific information sessions will also be organised.

» read more


Nominate Candidates for the 2022 Schmidt Science Fellows Award

The Schmidt Science Fellows program provides the world’s best emerging scientists with new skills and perspectives to develop novel solutions to society’s challenges, become scientific and societal thought leaders, and accelerate ground-breaking discoveries.

The Schmidt Science fellows program offers:
- The option of a 12–24-month research placement.
- A stipend of US$100,000 per year for a total of up to $200,000.        
- A 12–24-month postdoctoral placement in a world leading laboratory.
- A Global Meeting Series across five weeks.
- Personalised mentoring program

» read more


ANU Oral Exam Forum

ANU has been conducting an oral exam pilot to explore new ways of examining PhD candidates. The pilot has been running since August 2020 and so far, 5 candidates have completed an oral exam at ANU. 

When the oral exams pilot was first announced, the idea was controversial. We want to keep the pilot process as transparent as possible. This forum is a chance to hear about real candidates’ experience being examined this way - and get the perspective from Oral examination chairs about the way these exams were conducted. 

This forum will be a chance for you to ask questions and have input into the final report to the Higher Degrees by Research Committee. Anyone involved in the HDR endeavour at ANU - candidates, supervisors and administrators - are welcome. Please come along and have a say in the future of the ANU PhD.

» read more


Rolling Spinners on the Water Surface

A research paper by the Physics of Fluids group has been published in Science Advances. This paper reports a remarkable behaviour of fast-spinning objects on the surface of water. The new effect opens numerous possibilities to create self-propelling water surface vehicles capable of self-navigating themselves along boundaries of any shape. 

Rolling spinners on the water surface, JB Gorce, K.Y. Bliokh, H. Xia, N. Francois, H. Punzmann and M. Shats. Rolling spinners on the water surface, Science Advances 7, eabd4632 (2021)


Army Quantum Technology Roadmap

Army will launch its Quantum Technology Roadmap on Tuesday, 20th April. Be sure to register to receive the roadmap and a video of the event. Speakers include senior leaders of Army, Australia’s Chief Scientist and the Chief Defence Scientist.

» read more


Australia-US International Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (AUSMURI) 2021

AUSMURI operates in conjunction with the United States Department of Defense’s Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI). It encourages partnerships between Australian and US-based institutions. If an Australian university is part of a successful submission to the US MURI for a research project on the designated topic, it can then apply for AUSMURI funding for that project. The AUSMURI program will provide 100% of eligible project costs up to a maximum of AUD$1 million per year over 3 years. Projects may be extended for a further 2 years, subject to approval, with additional funding of AUD$1 million per year.

The designated topic for AUSMURI Round 5 is: Bio-architected Responsive Materials with 3D Nanoscale Order (Topic 9)

» read more


Australian Science Policy Fellowship Program

The Australian Science Policy Fellowship program is continuing, after its successful three year pilot program. The program gives early- and mid-career scientists the opportunity to work in a Commonwealth Government department for 12 months.

The program hopes to attract diverse, highly-skilled and enthusiastic scientists into the Australian Public Service.

Applications will be open from April 7 to April 26.

» read more


Upcoming Researcher Development Events

ANU Researcher Development coordinates and facilitates workshops, events, and competitions to develop your skills even further. 

» read more


National Library of Australia 2022 Fellowships

Apply for a National Library Fellowship
The National Library has diverse collections that support, inspire and transform research. Fellowships enable scholars, writers and researchers to conduct intensive research into our collections in a supportive, intellectual and creative environment.

» read more




Oliphant Tea Room

The Oliphant tea room is open with tea bags & black coffee* only.

Please remember to bring your own cup & spoon.

*coffee grounds for garden use are available


RSPhys Stores

Stores will be closed Friday 23rd April from lunch.

If you require anything urgently on Friday afternoon please see James Irwin.


There has been an increased number of enquiries from both students and supervisors about the Australian Government exemptions for overseas HDR students to travel to Australia.

Please refer to “Home Affairs travel exemptions for HDR students”.


Building and Room Security Access

Please note that the school now has a general access restriction of 8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday.  

If you need to complete a new after-hours risk assessment, please see the new top section here:




Departmental seminars

Mr Murdock Grewar - 19 April
Quadratic form minimisation in X-ray transmission tomography
» read more


School Colloquium - 22 April

Strong Coulomb interactions in silicon quantum dot qubits - Professor Susan Coppersmith

» read more


TMOS Colloquium - 23 April

Shaping the Future of Biomedical Imaging - Professor Kishan Dholakia

» read more


School Seminar Program - 28 April

Plasmas: from Solar to Cellular - Professor Christine Charles

» read more


Know your administrator...

Julie Arnold - EME & NLPC

Petra Rickman - NP/HIAF & ARC CDM

Belinda Barbour - DQS

Nikki Azzopardi - AM, CPF, LPC & TP


Workshops tailored to the Physics Student

This year Academic Skills and Learning Centre are once again offering workshops tailored to the Physics students interests and needs.

'read more' for revised dates and times.

» read more


14th Edoardo Amaldi Conference on Gravitational Waves (Amaldi14)

Registration and Abstract submission is now open for the 14th Edoardo Amaldi Conference on Gravitational Waves (Amaldi14).

Please visit the Amaldi14 website to register

The Amaldi14 website will be updated as the program is finalised.

If you have any questions please email


Free Flu Vaccinations

The University is committed to supporting our staff to maintain their health and wellbeing during the upcoming influenza season and for this reason is ensuring that FREE flu vaccinations for staff are available again this year.

The University has two options for receiving the flu vaccination – either on campus at the National Health Co-Op or off-campus by accessing a voucher code to be used at a Terry White Chemist in Canberra.

» read more


Check In CBR App

All RSPhys meeting rooms and teaching spaces now have a QR Code located at their entrance. It is encouraged that everyone at RSPhys use the Check In CBR app when using these rooms, as this will enable the 1 person per 2m2 rule, and follow ACT Health guidelines for improved contact tracing.

It is mandatory for all RSPhys visitors to use the Check In CBR App to 'check in'. An additional check in point is located at RSPhys reception. If you require a QR code for your area, please contact

1.5m physical distance must still be followed in all scenarios


Boosting Female Founders Initiative – Round 2 now open

» read more


NHMRC schemes opening in 2021 (Q1)

The College of Science Research Office (CRO) is now inviting notices of intent (NoI) to submit applications for the following schemes opening in 2021.


From Last Week

Australian Academy of Science Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Scientist Award


Physics @ ANU



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