A brace of medals for the ANU Physics community

Wednesday 16 June 2021

The Research School of Physics congratulates four of its community who have been decorated in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

Former Director of the Research School of Physics Emeritus Professor Jim Williams has been decorated for a second time in the Queen’s Birthday honours, promoted to Officer of the Order of Australia (AO). 

His award is for distinguished service to the physical sciences, to tertiary education, and to professional scientific organisations.

Professor Williams’ wife, Ros, was also decorated at the same time, receiving a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM), for service to community health.

Jim was the founding Head of Electronic Materials Engineering in 1988 and was the 8th School Director from 2002-2012.  He has contributed significantly to Materials community around the world, including leadership roles in the Academy of Science, International University of Materials Research Societies and the Materials Research Society, USA.

 Ros is well known in Electronic Materials Engineering, and widely respected in business community as a champion for the unemployed, contributing to the training of a large number of people in skills leading to employment. She has also been a highly effective advocate for improving services and support for families with mental health needs. Ros runs the Canberra Mental Health Forum, which has led to the ACT government changing its policies to support families in this vital area. 

Together with their family, Ros and Jim established the Ben Williams Student Support Grant.  This perpetual grant assists undergraduate and postgraduate students with special difficulties such as mental illness, disability or family issues to continue and complete their studies.  Their generosity has helped many students to manage personal crises over the years and has become a foundation in the support offered to students of Physics. 

Professor Williams said:

“I am honoured and humbled to receive the Order of Australia Award.  I think that the wonderfully supportive culture in the School over many years nurtured my passion for Science, and contributed to my determination to 'give something back'.  

“After retiring I was fortunate that my roles in the Australian Academy of Science enabled me, along with many others, to continue being an advocate for science. 

“I also want to acknowledge Ros's award for her tireless advocacy for better treatment of those suffering from mental health issues and their carers.  Her efforts have resulted in significant positive change for the ACT community in this area.”

Emeritus Professor Neil Manson was made a member of the Order of Australia in the Queen’s Birthday honours, for significant service to tertiary education, particularly physics. A separate story on Professor Manson is here

Professor Lawrence Cram was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM), for significant service to tertiary education, and to astronomy and astrophysics.

Professor Cram has been an emeritus professor with Applied Mathematics since 2014. He was the longest serving Deputy Vice-Chancellor at ANU (2004-2012) and more recently in the same role at Charles Darwin University (2014-2019).  

An accomplished astrophysicist with overseas experience, Lawrence served as Executive Director in the Australian Research Council, was successful in commercialization of research at CSIRO, and has been an advocate for enhancement of the affordances that arise between universities and their scholarly communities.

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