New Academic Staff Join the School of Physics in 2001
Dr Michelle Simmons
Dr Michelle Y. Simmons completed her PhD in the design and fabrication of high efficiency solar cells in the Department of Applied Physics at the University of Durham, UK. After her PhD she worked in the Semiconductor Physics Group at the University of Cambridge, UK where she was in charge of the design, fabrication and characterisation of ultra-high quality quantum electronic devices. In 1999 she came to Australia to take-up a QEII Fellowship in the fabrication of novel quantum electronic devices. Since then she has become the Director of the Atomic Fabrication Facility and a Program Manager in the Special Research Centre for Quantum Computer Technology at the University of New South Wales. Her current research interests are to understand how quantum electronic devices work as they become purer and smaller and to use this knowledge to build the next generation of devices using quantum principles – in particular a silicon-based quantum computer.

Dr Alex Hamilton
Alex’s expertise lies in the field of Experimental Condensed Matter Physics, and in particular, the study of quantum effects in nanometre scale electronic devices at ultra-low temperatures. Alex obtained his PhD at the Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge, where he designed novel semiconductor heterostructures, processed them into working devices in a semiconductor clean-room, and performed low noise electrical measurements at milliKelvin temperatures. In 1993 he was awarded an EPSRC Postdoctoral Fellowship to develop innovative low-dimensional semiconductor devices using a novel combination of focussed ion-beam processing and molecular beam crystal growth. After six years postdoctoral research he moved to Australia and joined the University of New South Wales in June 1999, becoming manager of the Quantum Measurement program when the Commonwealth Special Research Centre for Quantum Computer Technology was founded in 2000.

Alex’s research interests span a broad range of activities, from Quantum Computing, through to the investigation of quantum phase transitions in low-dimensional semiconductor structures, and the development of polymer (plastic) electronic devices.

Dr Maria Hunt
Maria Hunt commenced at a lecturer in Physics at UNSW in March 2001 and from 2002 has become First Year Laboratory Director. She came to UNSW from the University of Western Sydney, where she had been managing the UWS Nepean Public Access Observatory.

Maria enjoys both teaching and research, and rates physics and astronomy education among her serious research interests. As she often says, “I do astronomy education from the cradle to the grave”, having conducted programs for both preschoolers and for the University of the Third Age, and for almost everyone else in between. Maria has a broad interest in the use of the Internet in teaching as a means of increasing access to tertiary education.

Maria is equally enthusiastic about her research, which has the linking theme of bioastronomy. She is an observational astronomer, and is currently searching for bio-molecules in the interstellar medium, investigating star formation in giant molecular clouds, and searching for extra-solar planets. Her PhD is in millimetre-wave molecular line astronomy, which was completed jointly with UWS and the Australia Telescope National Facility of CSIRO.

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