2006 was a particularly challenging year for the School as we
struggled to meet constraints imposed by the University budget
model. Yet despite many difficulties Physics continued to perform
strongly in research and in learning and teaching. I would like
to take this opportunity to thank all staff, academic and professional
and technical, for their hard work and loyalty and for keeping
calm in the face much concern, irritation and disruption.
again there have been very good results for research groups and
recognition of outstanding individual achievements. In DEST publication
outputs Physics ranked about 3rd overall across the 75 schools
at UNSW. The Nanoelectronics group (Micolich, Hamilton et al)
largest individual ARC Discovery Project, $1.3M over 5 years,
whilst Astrophysics secured $1M NCRIS funding for the Pilot Antarctic
Astronomy programme. The ARC Centre for Quantum Computing Technology
(CQCT) won significant new research funding. Prof Bob Clark and
colleagues were also successful in winning NCRIS funding totalling
$5M for the establishment of semiconductor nanofabrication facilities
in new laboratories adjacent to CQCT. Dr Adam Micolich won the
NSW Tall Poppy Award recognising outstanding work by a scientist
under 35 and A/Prof Alex Hamilton won the 2006 Australasian Science
Prize for outstanding work on one-dimensional hole gases. Alex
also won an ARC Australian Professorial Fellowship (APF). I am
delighted to report that there were actually too many individual
awards in 2006 to permit mention of everyone here.
learning and teaching Professor Joe Wolfe won yet another award,
the 2006 NSW Quality Teaching Award. Joe must surely by now be
the most ‘highly decorated’ lecturer currently teaching
at UNSW. A/Prof John Smith and Physics’ Head of School both
won UNSW Vice Chancellor’s Awards for teaching excellence
primarily for their contributions to laboratory and first year
teaching respectively. It is quite a coup to pick up two VC awards
in one round like this and it stands as testament to Physics’ commitment
to ensuring excellent learning and teaching in its undergraduate
With excellent teaching one might expect that our students would
also receive recognition for outstanding work. Correct! Warrick
Clarke was nominated for the AIP Bragg Medal and Tamara Davis received
the UNSW U Committee Award for Research Excellence in Science.
In the 2006 Honours class, Yakov Kulik and Dean Robinson won UNSW
University Medals, once again an outstanding achievement to see
two University Medals in the same Honours year.
2006 we welcomed new researchers and professional and general
staff and said goodbye to some long serving colleagues. Head
of School, Professor Warrick Couch, left us in June to take up
a prestigious Chair of Astrophysics at Swinburne University.
Although Warrick was only Head for 18 months he was highly regarded
by colleagues for his leadership and research eminence; he will
be missed. Professor Chris Tinney joined us from the Anglo Australian
Observatory, funded by a five-year APF. Chris is an extra-solar
planet expert and we look forward to hearing more about these
John Tann and Melinda Taylor went travelling after leaving the
School, whilst in the case of Jack Cochrane I am pleased to say
it is goodbye, goodbye, hello, hello Jack and Cochrane Enterprises!
Now that the restructuring miseries of 2006 are safely behind
us, the School has clearly turned a corner and can look forward
to a new phase of growth and prosperity. Onward and upward colleagues!
Professor Richard Newbury
Head of School