Winner: Professor Michelle Simmons, University of New South Wales

Leading Australia’s quantum future

Australia’s position at the forefront of the developing field of quantum computing is at least partly due to the leadership shown by Professor Michelle Simmons.

Professor Simmons is Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Quantum Computation and Communication Technology Centre, based at the University of New South Wales.

Under her leadership, the team has:

  • Developed the world’s smallest transistor, built of one single atom.
  • Built the world’s smallest silicon wires, a thousand times narrower than a human hair.
  • Independently controlled quantum components only a few millionths of a millimetre apart.

For her leadership, passion, commitment and energy devoted to advancing the field of quantum computing in Australia, Professor Simmons has been awarded the CSIRO Eureka Prize for Leadership in Science.

“The 180 researchers of the Quantum Computation and Communication Technology Centre, which Professor Simmons established and leads, are ensuring Australia’s success in what will become a multi-billion dollar industry,” Kim McKay AO, Executive Director and CEO of the Australian Museum said. “Their success is a tribute to Professor Simmons’ demonstrated passion, commitment and energy,” she said.

Professor Simmons achievements are legendary in the Australian science community. She is:

  • One of the youngest and one of the first female physicists elected as a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science (2006).
  • An Australian Research Council Laureate Fellow (2013).
  • One of very few researchers to have won two Australian Research Council Federation Fellowships (2003 and 2008).
  • A Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2014).

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:

  • Professor Snow Barlow (University of Melbourne) for policy and research leadership in the field of climate change.
  • Rosie Hicks (Australian National Fabrication Facility), for leading national collaboration in Australia’s scientific infrastructure.

Watch the video.