Winner: Dr Phillip Urquijo, University of Melbourne

Looking beyond physics’ Standard Model

The 600+ physicists on the Belle II particle accelerator experiment are looking for answers to questions our Standard Model of particle physics cannot answer:

  • Why is there more antimatter than matter in the Universe?
  • Why do fundamental particles have such a large range of masses?
  • And, what fundamental particles can we find beyond the Standard Model?

The physics coordinator on Belle II is Melbournian Dr Phillip Urquijo.

For leadership on the Belle II project, including collaboration with 99 organisations from 23 different countries, Dr Urquijo of the University of Melbourne has been awarded the 3M Eureka Prize for Emerging Leader in Science.

Belle II will run at the SuperKEKB particle accelerator in Japan. SuperKEKB consists of two rings of high-speed particles, just over 3 km wide, that crash positrons into electrons at close to the speed of light.

“I congratulate Dr Urquijo on his amazing achievements to date and for being a leader in international physics,” Kim McKay AO, Executive Director and CEO of the Australian Museum said. “His fast track on such a major international project is a great credit to his talents, as this role would usually fall to a more senior scientist,” she said.

His authority in juggling hundreds of different physics objectives is reinforced by his own impressive discoveries. He has been described as one of the best experimental particle physicists of his generation, and his contributions to the field were acknowledged by the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP) young scientist prize in 2012.

Dr Urquijo is helping build Australian’s position in the field of particle physics, with the aim of making us a hub for particle physics in the Asian region. He is building a team of researchers to be leaders in the years to come.

Established in 1827, the Australian Museum is the nation’s first museum and one of its foremost scientific research, educational and cultural institutions. The Australian Museum Eureka Prizes are the most comprehensive national science awards, honouring excellence in Research and Innovation, Leadership, Science Communication and Journalism, and School Science.

The other finalists were:

  • Dr Sharath Sriram (RMIT University), who advocates for early-career researchers nationally.
  • Dr Rita Henderson (University of New South Wales), who is leading water science research and informing water sustainability policy in Australia and internationally.

Watch the video.