ANU Physics sweeps AIP Annual Awards

Wednesday 14 December 2022

Staff and students from the Research School of Physics have won four awards in the 2022 Australian Institute of Physics (AIP) annual awards, more than half of the seven awarded this year.

The awards span research and teaching, short term and long term excellence across nuclear physics, condensed matter, material physics and gravitational wave astronomy.

Dr John Debs, founder and director of ANU MakerSpace, has been awarded the AIP Education Medal, the first time a member of ANU has received this recognition. The medal recognises outstanding contributions to tertiary physics education in Australia.   

Dr Debs has been recognised for his instrumental work "in the design and implementation of the Mike Gore Centre for Physics Education at ANU, comprising innovative learning spaces, most significantly the transformative ANU MakerSpace. Born out of a physics approach, the ANU MakerSpace has influenced students and staff across ANU, leading to changes in pedagogy, and unique interdisciplinary experiences for a growing membership of now over 2400 people."  

"I am absolutely delighted and honoured! My approach was pretty radical when I started 10 years ago - especially for physics education," Dr Debs said.

"To have our professional body recognise this work and see the value in taking such an approach to education further validates that it's worth investing the significant time it takes to change the way we teach at universities. It means that I can continue to share this approach with conviction and encourage colleagues around the world to try and teach physics in this way.   

An extended interview with Dr Debs is on the ANU News website.

Honours student Katherine Curtis (pictured) won the Thomas H Laby Medal for Excellence in Physics for the most outstanding Honours thesis in physics by a student from an Australian university. Her thesis was titled Nuclear Pairing and Superfluidity from a Quark Model.

Distinguished Professor Susan Scott won the AIP's Walter Boas Medal, which is awarded annually for excellence in original research that makes an important contribution to physics in Australia. 

Distinguished Professor Scott, a theoretical physicist at ANU Centre for Gravitational Astrophysics, was selected for her outstanding leadership in the development of the field of gravitational wave science and the work she has done to advance the fields of general relativity and cosmology. 

Emeritus Professor Jim Williams was awarded the Harrie Massey Medal for pioneering and sustained contributions to condensed matter physics, materials physics and ion beam physics, as well as leadership to Physics.

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