Adam Micolich wins Edgeworth David Medal

Dr Adam Micolich
Thursday, 5 March, 2009
Dan Gaffney

Adam Micolich has won the Edgeworth David Medal, a prestigious early career award made by the Royal Society of New South Wales.

Awarded annually to a scientist under the age of 35 for distinguished contributions to Australian science, the medal honours the pioneering geologist Sir Edgeworth David, who wrote the first comprehensive record of the geology of Australia. Previous winners include palaeontologist and former Australian of the year, Tim Flannery, and the world-leading solar cell physicist, Martin Green.

Aged 33, Dr Micolich is a senior lecturer in the UNSW School of Physics. He has been awarded $6.85 million in external research funding over the past five years, including 4 ARC Discovery Grants, 3 ARC LIEF Grants and an ARC Special Research Initiative grant for establishment of a Young Investigators Network for Next Generation Electronic Devices.

His work has been reviewed and reported in respected and widely read journals such as Nature, Nature Physics, Physical Review Letters, Applied Physics Letters, and Physics World. His work has also featured in influential media outlets such as the New York Times, The Guardian and Scientific American. Locally, his research has reached large local audiences via print media and a 30-minute feature on the ABC Television science program, Quantum.

"In Australia, Adam is one of the leading researchers in experimental condensed matter physics of his generation, says Professor Richard Newbury, Head the UNSW School of Physics. "Internationally, he belongs to a small, select group of experimental physicists who will set the agenda for the discipline over the coming decades."

Adam has made significant contributions in several fields. His 2006 discovery that inexpensive plastic film becomes a superconductor at low temperatures following exposure to energetic metal ions has many potential technological applications. His research into fractal patterns in the magneto-conductance of billiard devices during the Classical-Quantum transition is considered a seminal work.

Also, his research with Professor Richard Taylor (University of Oregon) on 'fractal art', focusing especially on the drip paintings of Jackson Pollock, generated enormous scientific and popular media interest. Following the publication of this research in Nature, the work received the attention of the specialist professional journals Pattern Recognition Letters, Leonardo and the Journal of Consciousness Studies.

"It is sometimes said that one indication of true genius is the ability to make significant contributions in more than one field," says Professor Newbury. "Adam has demonstrated in his short career to date that he is able to make very important scientific discoveries by addressing a diverse range of problems. Whilst we should probably reserve the term genius for the Einsteins and Newtons of this world, what is clear from looking at his key contributions is that Adam is most definitely a young scientist of extraordinary talent and versatility."

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