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
With 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
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
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