31 January 2018
The Academy congratulates its Fellow Professor Michelle Simmons FAA FTSE who was named 2018 Australian of the Year. We also congratulate 10 Fellows who received Australia Day honours.
One of the world’s top quantum physicists, Scientia Professor Michelle Yvonne Simmons, has been named the 2018 Australian of the Year.
A Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering since 2015, Professor Simmons is at the forefront of what she calls the “space race of the computing era”.
Image courtesy of the University of NSW via Salty Dingo
ATSE President Professor Hugh Bradlow said Professor Simmons has been able to advocate and explain her quantum computing research to the public and investors in a way that has inspired them.
“Michelle is a role model for scientists everywhere and is particularly inspiring for young women in encouraging them to become scientists,” he said.
She leads a team made up of more than 200 researchers across 8 Australian universities, developing a cache of quantum computing technologies.
One of their most notable achievements is the ability to manipulate individual atoms to make electronic devices that are atomically precise – a feat her group is the only one in the world to achieve.
The University of NSW Professor of Physics’ aim is to one day create a quantum computer that can solve problems in minutes – problems that would otherwise take thousands of years.
Such a discovery would revolutionise weather forecasting, drug design and artificial intelligence.
Professor Simmons has also taken world leading research on quantum computers to the point where it’s now being commercialised, founding the company Silicon Quantum Computing Pty Ltd.
“If the company Michelle founded is successful it will position Australia to be a leading technological nation in the 21st century,” Professor Bradlow says.
Professor Simmons moved to Australia from the UK 18 years ago, and has since transformed the UNSW Quantum Physics Department into an internationally recognised leader of advanced computing systems.
ATSE congratulates 10 Fellows of the Academy, who were among the 895 Australians recognised in the Australia Day Honours List.
Gregory Clark AC FTSE: For eminent service to science as a physicist, researcher and academic in the area of technological development and communications, to business as an innovator and enabler of emerging technologies, and to the promotion of philanthropy.
Ezio Rizzardo AC FRS FAA FTSE: For eminent service to scientific technological research and development in the field of polymer chemistry, to its application in the biomedical, electronics and nanotechnology context, as an author, and through mentorship roles.
Jeffrey Rosenfeld AC OBE FTSE: For eminent service to medicine, particularly to the discipline of neurosurgery, as an academic and clinician, to medical research and professional organisations, and to the health and welfare of current and former defence force members.
Michael Barber AO FAA FTSE: For distinguished service to higher education administration, and in the field of mathematical physics, particularly statistical mechanics, as an academic and researcher, and through contributions to science policy reform.
Andrew Michelmore AO FTSE: For distinguished service to the mining industry through leadership roles in establishing trade and investment links, and in resource sector standards of practice on environmental and safety issues.
Chloe Munro AO FTSE: For distinguished service to public administration through leadership roles in the area of renewable energy, water and climate change process and reform, and to the performing arts.
Simon Poole AO FTSE: For distinguished service to science in the field of photonics research and development, as an academic, and to the telecommunications industry through advisory roles and board memberships.
Scott Sloan AO FRS FREng FAA FTSE: For distinguished service to education, particularly in the field of geotechnical engineering, as an academic and researcher, to professional associations, and as a mentor of young engineers.
David Singleton AM FTSE: For significant service to engineering, particularly through creating sustainable infrastructure for cities and communities.
Anthony (Tony) Weiss AM FTSE: For significant service to science in the field of biotechnology, as an academic, researcher, author and mentor, and through executive roles with scientific institutions.
Promoting Australia's advancement through technology