UQ Physics leader awarded prestigious optics medal

28 Aug 2018
Professor Halina Rubinsztein-Dunlop
Professor Halina Rubinsztein-Dunlop

The 2018 AOS W. H. (Beattie) Steel Medal has been awarded to Professor Halina Rubinsztein-Dunlop for her contributions to diverse fields of optics, including laser physics, linear and nonlinear high-resolution spectroscopy, laser micromanipulation, atom cooling and trapping and nano-optics.  This Medal is the premier award of the Australian Optical Society, named after Dr William H. (Beattie) Steel, the first chairman and a former president of the International Commission of Optics.

As former Head of the UQ School of Mathematics and Physics and current Chief Investigator in the Australian Research Council’s Centre of Excellence for Engineered Quantum Systems, Professor Rubinsztein-Dunlop is one of the originators of cutting-edge physics techniques, such as laser-enhanced ionisation spectroscopy, pioneering laser micromanipulation, transfer of angular momentum of light and optical drive micromechanics.

It has been a big year for Professor Rubinsztein-Dunlop, who was recently honoured with an Order of Australia (AO) in the 2018 Queen’s Birthday Honours List, just one of many accolades to add to an illustrious career in physics research and mentoring.

The UQ professor has been leading the way in this area of physics, initiating experimental programs in laser micromanipulation and atom optics at the University, with over 200 publications in international peer-refereed journals, including Nature. In particular, Professor Rubinsztein-Dunlop has made leading contributions to the development of optical tweezers, where microparticles can be moved and spun using laser light, and has collaborated with biologists, who use her optical tweezers as tools in for making measurements inside of cells.

As the first female professor of physics in Australia, Professor Rubinsztein-Dunlop has been a role model for women in science, mathematics and physics. She’s working with UQ students to help them create change by considering a career in research.