The year 2001
was, as expected, a critical one for the School of Physics. However
while the year started with a sense of uncertainty and concern,
it finished with the School in a much stronger and healthier position,
and looking forward to the future with renewed confidence.
At the end of
June, after over a year of intense debate throughout the University,
the Faculty of Science and Technology merged with the Faculty of
Life Sciences to create a single, new faculty - the Faculty of Science.
Within the newly formed faculty further substantial changes took
place, with additional mergers reducing the total number of schools
from 14 to 10. Despite all these changes, the structure of the School
of Physics was essentially unchanged.
no new appointments to the School since 1994, it has been clear
for some time that the School urgently needed to start an ongoing
program of recruiting new staff. In 2001 we were able to make not
one but three new academic appointments. Significantly, two of these
were women. A survey at the end of the year showed that the composition
of the academic and research-only staff of the School was 22% female.
This is a remarkable improvement on the situation of only a few
years ago, but there is still some way to go. In 2001, every level
D and E academic position in the School was male.
high standing in teaching was reflected in this year's results in
the Course Evaluation Questionnaire (CEQ), a uniform survey that
is filled out by graduating students across Australia. The School
of Physics was ranked third in Australia, behind two much smaller
institutions. While sampling errors tend to make the CEQ a questionable
instrument, it is always rewarding to see our teaching efforts acknowledged.
In other teaching
highlights, the School introduced a series of postgraduate programs
in photonics and optoelectronics - the first new postgraduate coursework
programs we have introduced in many years. The programs have been
an instant success, and will be developed for on-line delivery during
2002. The School was also pleased to receive one of the University's
first ITET (Innovative Teaching and Education Technology) Fellowships,
which will help to keep us at the forefront of educational innovation.
In terms of
research, the School continued to excel, with outstanding success
in winning competitive research funding. The Centre for Quantum
Computer Technology continued its extraordinary run of successes,
acknowledged during the year by the award of one of the inaugural
Federation Fellowships to Professor Bob Clark and by his election
as a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science. This recognition,
together with an unprecedented $9m grant from the federal government,
firmly establishes this Centre as one of the leading physics activities
in the country.
For the next
three years the School will host the Australian Gemini Office, with
Associate Professor Warrick Couch as Gemini Project Scientist.
With a research
output of some 166 refereed papers and numerous other published
works, the School continues to consolidate its formidable reputation
in research. Equally impressive are the outreach and public awareness
activities of our staff. Some 192 public presentations were made,
at conferences, colloquia and public meetings. Media coverage was
also excellent. On average, a UNSW Physics story was in the press
every few days - either in this country or somewhere around the
Head of School