CSIRO Alumni Scholarship in Physics Appeal

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The CSIRO Alumni Scholarship in Physics aims to connect a postgraduate physicist or mathematician to a leading research centre overseas. Research in physics is fundamental for Australia's future. This scholarship is to honour the memory of four outstanding CSIRO physicists who lost their lives in a tragic helicopter accident on 21 March 2013.

The founders of this scholarship know that early experience at a leading overseas laboratort greatly benefits the graduate embarking on a research career and Australian science.

A pledge from the Laboratories Credit Union and donations from the family, friends, colleagues and associates of the physicists Drs. John Dunlop, Tony Farmer, Gerry Haddad and Don Price, have already contributed to the CSIRO Alumni Scholarship in Physics.

With your support our aim is for a scholarship to be awarded annually in honour of John, Tony, Gerry and Don in the comings years.

More information is available on our website: www.csiroalumni.com.au

By making a donation you are supporting our future scientists.

About the scholarship

The CSIRO Alumni Scholarship in Physics  is a post-graduate travel scholarship to the value of $5000.  The Scholarship is to fund travel costs to visit and/or conduct research in an overseas or interstate institution such as a university or research establishment of international standing in the field of proposed research.

Previous recipients

Claire-Elise Green, 2015 Alumni Scholar in Physics

The first CSIRO Alumni Scholarship in Physics was awarded in 2015 to PhD student Claire-Elise Green.  Claire’s research is in radio astronomy, especially star formation, molecular clouds, black holes/AGN and magnetic fields.

Claire used the scholarship to travel to the Max-Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, a world leader in this niche field, where she worked in the millimetre and sub-millimetre astronomy group under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Karl Menten.

“I was working on a publication with colleagues in Germany and they invited me to Germany to work with them. Funding for students to make international research visits is scarce and I was not able to secure any funds to make the trip. But then I heard about the CSIRO Alumni Scholarship in Physics and with the encouragement of my supervisor I applied and I was awarded a scholarship that made my trip possible.  The scholarship covered my flights, my accommodation, food, taxis and trains and all the other incidentals for the whole month. It covered everything.” said Claire.

The group in Bonn has direct access to the Atacama Pathfinder EXperiment APEX telescope in Chile. Observing with APEX allows the study of cold dust and gas in the Milky Way and in distant galaxies. The APEX data was invaluable for Claire’s research and she learnt technical skills particular to that telescope so she could use the data effectively.

She was also able to work with her collaborators in person on a paper, which has now been published in an international journal.  She also contributed to research occurring at the Institute by introducing the team to new software for the identification of structures in star formation which will speed up their research. 

At the end of her stay, Claire was offered a postdoctoral position at the Max-Planck Institute when she finishes her PhD, by the Director of the Institute.

“Postgraduate students like myself have big dreams and big opportunities but little funding to take advantage of them.  A scholarship such as this can have a huge impact on a student’s career and I am so grateful to have been a recipient of the CSIRO Alumni Scholarship in Physics” -  Claire-Elise Green.

Brianna Ganly, 2016 Alumni Scholar in Physics

The second Scholarship was awarded this year to Brianna Ganly who is undertaking her PhD studies with CSIRO Mineral Resources in conjunction with the UNSW.  Although the main objective of her thesis is to develop new methods for measuring the metal content in unprepared rock samples for the Australian mining industry, Brianna discovered that the University of Guelph PIXE (Particle Induced X-ray Emission) group in Canada shares the same interests in improving the measuring of the element content of unprepared samples.

Brianna used the scholarship to travel to the University of Guelph in Canada for 7 weeks in May/June this year to work with the University of Guelph PIXE group, led by one of the world leading PIXE experts, Prof. J L Campbell.  Prof. Campbell is also a co-investigator on the Mars rover Curiosity’s APXS instrument. 

While in Canada, Brianna performed particle size experiments with access to specialised equipment, including a proton beam line which has recently been designed to emulate the Curiosity APXS as closely as possible. The results of these PIXE experiments will hopefully increase the understanding of particle size effects in a way that can be applied to improving XRF. A recent discovery of methane by Curiosity Rover has helped narrow the likely sources of the gas. There is no evidence that this is a sign of life on Mars. However the seasonal variation in methane is interesting.

"For the first time in the history of Mars methane measurements, we have something that's repeatable," said Dr Chris Webster, a US space agency (NASA) scientist working on Curiosity.

“The scholarship has been extremely beneficial for my career. It has enabled me to work on a collaborative research project overseas that has resulted in a scientific research paper published that I am an author on, alongside Prof J L Campbell, a PIXE expert. The scholarship enabled me to make important networking connections and build up new research skills that I will use throughout my career” – Brianna Ganly. 

Scott Liles, 2017 Alumni Scholar in Physics

Spin coherence time of single holes in GaAs electronic devices

The aim of my trip to the University of Copenhagen was to learn the experimental techniques that would allow me to perform measurements of the spin coherence time of single holes in GaAs electronic devices. Spin coherence time is an important property in the field quantum information and quantum computing. Spin based implementations of quantum computers hope to use the spin of single electrons or holes as quantum bits (qubits for short). The spin coherence time is a measurement of how long a spin qubit will be capable of holding ‘quantum’ information for. There have been a number of recent theoretical research papers highlighting that holes in GaAs may have very long spin coherence times, however no one has yet performed the experiments to confirm these measurements.

I gained valuable experience operating the state of the art experimental equipment. Since the equipment was set up and functioning I was able to essentially ‘plug and play’ using our GaAs devices. When I ran into problems Christian Volk, and Ferdinand Kuemmeth were always on hand and happy to help. This meant that I was able to quickly obtain valuable calibration and experimental parameters that would likely have taken several months to achieve here in Sydney. In particular, I now have a measurement of the parasitic capacitance of the GaAs Quantum Dot device, and measurements of the high frequency impedance characteristics of the charge sensor, which is vital for spin coherence measurements. 

I am now almost finished designing a similar set up here in Sydney. I have customised our set-up based on the calibration measurements I obtained in Copenhagen. The equipment and design will be valuable for completing my PhD, but will also be used by all the current and future members of the research group.
The funding allowed me to take charge of this design project. Since I am now the only member of my research group with experience using a high frequency spin manipulation set-up, my supervisor has entrusted me to lead the design of the equipment here in Sydney. This has given me a huge confidence boost, and the experience to design a measurement set-up is incredibly valuable for my future as an experimental physicist. On a more general level, while working at Copenhagen I was able to form networks with the international research community in my field. The Neils Bohr Institute has 145 academic staff, 95 technical staff, and 85 PhD students. During the 6 weeks in Copenhagen I attended all of the weekly seminars from visiting academics, and was able to discus physics, career paths, and often football (particularly the upcoming World Cup) with people working in labs all across Europe. I hope that these connections will help me achieve one of my career goals, which is to spend some time working as post-doctoral researcher in Europe.

Naomi Paxton, 2018 Alumni Scholar in Physics

Naomi is studying biomedical physics as applied to biofabrication: 3-D printing body parts.

This rapidly evolving research field interfaces medical engineering, science and tissue engineering. She is part of a highly multidisciplinary ‘biofabrication and tissue morphology’ group at QUT, led by Professor Mia Woodruff. The research involves the use of cutting edge medical 3-D printers to create patient-specific implants to treat bone trauma or congenital defects.

Thousands of Australians and millions of people around the world suffer from significant bone loss due to congenital abnormality and diseases such as cancer or trauma.

In many cases these bone defects require surgical intervention to heal properly. The current gold standard treatment is auto grafting and allografting where the bone is taken from the hip or another side of the patient’s body, or from a donor, and transplanted into the defect site to guide healing. There is a large shortage of donor material and grafting procedures are costly and carry significant risks including infection, as well as creating a second surgical site.

The aim of her biofabrication research is to provide an alternative to grafting, by 3-D printing patient-specific scaffold using advanced biomaterials containing the patient’s own cells that will in able regrowth and complete healing of the defect. She uses disruptive technology driven by engineers, biologists, chemists and physicists (like her) to provide a revolutionary step in the trajectory of modern healthcare within Australia and around the world.

Naomi will undertake four weeks research with Professor Molly Steven’s laboratory in London to gain access to her world class research and, specifically Raman spectroscopy expertise for biomaterials. This presents an invaluable knowledge transfer opportunity, to extend the capability of rapid biomaterial screening and development Into biofabricated implants. The novel bioglass  ‘strontium substituted bio-active glass’ was developed by Stephen’s laboratory and has shown promising results for a range of biomedical applications.

Honouring four esteemed colleagues

On 21 March 2013 the science and physics community lost four of their finest in a tragedy beyond imagination. Drs. John Dunlop, Tony Farmer, Gerry Haddad and Don Price were four great gentlemen - wonderful, dedicated scientists and humanitarians of the highest order. All had distinguished careers at CSIRO and were influential in bringing to industry new and novel techniques and products. Even in retirement, they continued to work for the organisation in an honorary capacity making major contributions in the application of advanced physics to solve significant problems in manufacturing industries. These men were leaders and mentors in the physics community - inspiring those around them - and they enjoyed nothing more than passing on their skills and knowledge to younger scientists. It is fitting to honour their memories through the establishment of a student scholarship based on academic achievement.

We are seeking support from individuals who want to play a part in supporting our future scientists by making a gift today. Donations at any level will be gratefully received.

Contact Details

CSIRO Alumni Research Way

(03) 9662 7287
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