EQUS Annual Workshop 2021 round-up!

The 2021 EQUS Annual Workshop was another big success!  It was great to hear about all the research and portfolio activities that took place over the year and to see EQUS members collaborating and exchanging ideas.

The EQUS Annual Workshop is a key forum for collaboration and exchange of ideas between EQUS members.  The 2021 workshop ran as a hybrid event, with talks streamed to venues in Busselton, WA, Noosa, QLD, and Coogee, NSW, as well as to online attendees.  It was attended by roughly 150 people, including students, early-career researchers, Chief Investigators and members of the Scientific Advisory Committee.  Highlights of the event include:

  • Invited talks by Dr Chelsea Bartram, Professor Lisa Kewley and Professor Päivi Törmä
  • Research and portfolio updates from EQUS members
  • Pitch, poster and three-minute thesis competitions
  • Awarding of EQUS prizes

The workshop kicked off with a joint session between EQUS and the ARC Centre of Excellence in Dark Matter Particle Physics (DMPP).  This session featured a keynote by Dr Chelsea Bartram and presentations by Associate Investigator Dr Tyler Neely, Research Fellow Dr Glen Harris, and PhD students Catriona Thomson and Graeme Flower.  Dr Bartram is an experimentalist at the University of Washington, where she is one of the leaders of the Axion Dark Matter eXperiment (ADMX).  She presented recent results and future plans for ADMX.  Several EQUS researchers from the Quantum Technologies and Dark Matter Laboratory at UWA are also part of the ADMX Collaboration.

Professor Lisa Kewley, an ARC Laureate Fellow at ANU and Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence in All-Sky Astrophysics in 3D (ASTRO3D), presented data and workforce models related to gender balance in STEM in Australia.  She also shared strategies that have been implemented successfully at ASTRO3D to create a more diverse academic workforce, such as targeted recruitment and culture change initiatives.  We hope to be able to implement similar strategies to help make EQUS more diverse and inclusive.

Professor Päivi Törmä, from Aalto University in Finland, presented work on quantum geometry, superconductivity and Bose–Einstein condensation, including a connection between superconductivity (superfluidity) and quantum geometry that explains the observation of superconductivity in bilayer graphene, and the experimental realisation of a hybrid Bose-Einstein condensate of surface plasmons and light.

Alongside research and portfolio updates, EQUS students and early-career researchers had the opportunity to share their research in a poster or three-minute thesis (3MT) format or to pitch their research to hypothetical investors.  This was the first time the EQUS Annual Workshop featured pitch and 3MT competitions, but it will not be the last!

The awards dinner was another highlight of the workshop, providing the Centre Executive with an opportunity to acknowledge the outstanding performance of our members and recognise the contributions they make to EQUS.

2021 EQUS Awards

The recipients of the 2021 EQUS Awards are as follows.

Director’s Medal: Elizabeth Bridge

The Director’s Medal is presented to a researcher who not only exhibits the spirit of collaborative enquiry required to advance research in quantum physics but also goes above and beyond to assist with service activities within the Centre.

Elizabeth Bridge is a Research Fellow in the Quantum Optics Laboratory at UQ, developing quantum optomechanical sensors that function at room temperature and the technology to translate these sensors into applications.  Liz is an active participant in all aspects of the Centre and regularly demonstrates a willingness to stand up for EQUS’ values.  She has become an unofficial mentor to PhD students in her group, is a member of two Centre committees, and has initiated or participated in numerous outreach and training activities for EQUS members, the broader physics community and the general public. 

Centre Citizen: Catriona Thomson

The Centre Citizen award is presented to the EQUS member who best represents the aspirations of the Centre through their passion and commitment to the Centre’s culture.

Catriona Thomson is a PhD student in the Quantum Technologies and Dark Matter Laboratory at UWA, working on dark-matter detection using precision frequency metrology.  An active member of EQUS, Catriona participated in the Centre’s midterm review as a member of the student representative panel.  She was involved in two key public engagement activities in 2021, the Clear as Quantum podcast and the WA Quantum and Dark Matter Road Trip.  She has already established an international collaboration with Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is involved in cross-node collaborations and won the 2021 EFTF–IFCS Best Student Paper Award.


Left: Liz receiving her Director’s Medal from Andrew White. Right: Cat receiving her Centre Citizen award from Mike Tobar.

Best Team Project: Mike Biercuk, Ivan Kassal, Cornelius Hempel, Ryan MacDonell and Claire Edmunds, for their work on analogue quantum simulation of chemical dynamics

Best Collaborative Paper: Tom Stace, Dave Tuckett and Terry Farrelly, for their paper exploring the development of tensor-network codes

Best Profile-Raising Activity:

Unable to decide on a clear winner, this award was presented to groups:

  • Quantum and Dark Matter Road Trip team: Mike Tobar, Ben McAllister, Cindy Zhao, Jeremy Bourhill, Aaron Quiskamp, Catriona Thomson, Elrina Hartman, William Campbell and Linda Barbour
  • Clear as Quantum podcast team: Lachlan Rogers, Elizabeth Bridge, Yasmine Sfendla and Catriona Thomson

Best Contribution to Public Debate: Ben Brown and Pablo Bonilla, for their leadership on quantum physics in the public arena in relation to their work on error-correcting codes

Poster competition:

Three-minute thesis competition:

  • First place: Amy Navarathna
  • Second place: Cindy Zhao
  • Third place: David Gozzard

Pitch competition:

  • First place: Lauren McQueen
  • Second place: Christina Giarmatzi
  • Third place: Eric He

Congratulations to our award winners, and to all EQUS members for making 2021 another very successful year for the Centre!

Major funding support

Australian Research Council

The Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Engineered Quantum Systems (EQUS) acknowledges the Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and their continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respects to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders past and present.