Speech: UNSW quantum physicist to deliver Australia Day address

Scientia Professor Michelle Simmons
Friday, 20 January, 2017
UNSW media

UNSW Scientia Professor Michelle Simmons will deliver this year’s Australia Day address in New South Wales, the first female scientist to be given the honour since the tradition began 20 years ago.

The address ‘draws on distinguished members from within the community to express their unique perspective on Australia’s identity and the diversity of our society’, according to the Australia Day website

An internationally recognised physicist specialising in quantum computing, Professor Simmons is the director of the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Quantum Computation and Communication Technology, based at UNSW.

Professor Simmons has pioneered unique technologies internationally to build electronic devices in silicon at the atomic scale, including the world’s first single-atom transistor and the narrowest conducting wires ever made. Currently, her team is leading the world in the development of a prototype quantum computer in silicon.

Since arriving in Australia from the UK in 1999, she has been named the NSW Scientist of the Year (2011), and an elected Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2014). In 2015 she was awarded the CSIRO Eureka Prize for Leadership in Science and in 2016 received the Foresight Institute Feynman Prize in Nanotechnology for her work in "the new field of atomic-electronics, which she created". She was was recently named the 2017 L’ORÉAL-UNESCO Asia-Pacific Laureate in the Physical Sciences, and will receive her award in Paris in March.

“I love this country, and am honoured to be delivering the 2017 Australia Day Address,” Professor Simmons said.

In making the announcement this week, NSW Premier Mike Baird said Professor Simmons was at the forefront of her profession, the industry and the global scientific community.

“She is a pioneer in her field and a shining example of the ground-breaking innovation of which Australia is capable,” Mr Baird said.

“There is no one better qualified to deliver this year’s Australia Day Address.”

Eminent speakers from past years include Ben Roberts-Smith, former NSW Governor Her Excellency Professor Marie Bashir, Sir Michael Parkinson, Ita Buttrose, Associate Professor Charlie Teo and Kurt Fearnley.

To find out more about the address visit: