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Message from the Head of School

THE SCHOOL OF PHYSICS has enjoyed yet another very successful year, maintaining its traditional excellence in research, teaching and outreach.

Our success in attracting external funding remains very high, with research grants totaling over $3.5 million in 1999. This has resulted in some 152 refereed research papers, and numerous conference and colloquia presentations.

There were few staff movements during the year, although two of our high-flying researchers left to take up new positions: Dr Andrew Dzurak has been appointed senior lecturer in the UNSW School of Electrical Engineering, but will retain close links with us through the new Quantum Computing Centre; Professor Jim Scott has taken up a new chair at Cambridge University, England. Two new Adjunct Professors were appointed: Professor Brian Boyle of the Anglo-Australian Observatory, and Professor Robert Robinson of the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation.

A particular highlight of the year was the awarding by the Australian Research Council of a new Special Research Centre in Quantum Computing Technology initially for three years but with the possibility of extension to nine. Led by Professor Bob Clark, the Centre brings together over sixty staff and students from UNSW, the University of Queensland and the University of Melbourne.

Adding to the research infrastructure available to the School, we have established a collaboration with the Australia Telescope National Facility whereby the Mopra millimetre-wave telescope has been upgraded to a full 22-metre surface. We will operate the telescope for the next three years during the winter months, giving our researchers and students access to the largest millimetre-wave telescope in the Southern Hemisphere.

On the teaching side, the School continued to deliver a wide range of courses and subjects, catering not only to potential physicists but also to engineers, computer scientists and specialists in other areas. We enjoyed a large honours year enrolment, and finished the year with two University Medallists.

John StoreyWith funding from the University's Capital Works Program plus a capital grant, we transformed our First Year teaching laboratories from a dreary dungeon to a modern high-tech environment. The Study Area, previously a dull room with a few tables in it, now looks like the First Class Lounge at a modern airport complete with an array of brightly coloured iMac computers for general use.

Our outreach activities continued to gain momentum, with a very successful teachers workshop held in November to explore the new HSC syllabus. We are keen to strengthen our links with high schools throughout the state and across Australia, and will be developing several new initiatives in 2000.

Nationally, the long-awaited Green Paper titled New Knowledge, New Opportunities was released by the Department of Education Training and Youth Affairs, precipitating a flurry of activity as interested parties sought to respond. The resulting White Paper, Knowledge and Innovation, while less overtly ideologically driven, nevertheless persists with the view that further reducing the autonomy of universities and increasing the bureaucratic demands upon them will somehow compensate for the disastrously low levels of government funding.

The next few years promise to be interesting ones for all of us at Australian universities, particularly in the basic sciences. However the UNSW School of Physics remains strong and vigorous, and ready to take on the challenges of the new millennium.

Professor John Storey
Head of School
March, 2000

 

 

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School of Physics - UNSW 2000