IOP president tours Australia, New Zealand and Canada to forge closer global links

23 December 2016

Strengthening ties with physics societies in Australia, New Zealand and Canada, discussing future collaboration and giving public lectures on metasurfaces have been some of the highlights of a tour of the three countries this month by IOP president Professor Roy Sambles.

IOP president tours Australia, New Zealand and Canada to forge closer global links

Sambles started his tour in Brisbane, Australia at the biennial congress of the Australian Institute of Physics (AIP), held jointly this year with the Asia Pacific Physics Conference (APPC) of the Association of Asia Pacific Physical Societies on 4–8 December.

There he gave an invited research talk on “Manipulating sound with Rayleigh-Bloch waves on holey surfaces”. The IOP sponsored an Industry Day on 6 December at the event, during which Sambles gave a talk that described the IOP’s activities to promote physics-based innovation and discussed the challenges and opportunities for industry in Australia and the UK.

On 7 December he presented the Harrie Massey Medal and Prize, jointly awarded by the AIP and the IOP, to Professor Raymond Volkas at the APPC conference dinner, having introduced the Harrie Massey Lecture given by Volkas to the congress earlier in the day.

While in Brisbane he had dinner with AIP president Professor Warrick Couch and had discussions with AIP representatives about how the AIP and IOP might further their work together in the future.

IOP president tours Australia, New Zealand and Canada to forge closer global links

Following the congress, Sambles visited the universities of New South Wales, Wollongong, Sydney and Tasmania, giving public lectures on “Metasurfaces from butterflies to battleships”, “Microwaves and metastructures”, “Acoustic metasurfaces” and “Electromagnetic metasurfaces – from butterflies to battleships” respectively over 9–15 December.

He then went on to New Zealand, where on 19 December he went to the University of Canterbury in Christchurch and gave the public lecture on electromagnetic metasurfaces. The following day he was also taken to see the university’s astrophysics telescope centre around 200 km away on Mount St John.

IOP president tours Australia, New Zealand and Canada to forge closer global links

While there, he met the president of the New Zealand Institute of Physics (NZIP), David Hutchinson (pictured on Sambles’ left), its vice president, David Wiltshire (pictured next to Hutchinson) and Professor Mike Reid, head of physics and chemistry at the university (pictured on Sambles’ right), as well as Ian Wright from DVC Research and Innovations. There were also some informal discussions on the challenges of physics education in New Zealand, such as teacher recruitment and curriculum reform, how the IOP addresses these in the UK and the online resources that the IOP has available.

He is currently in Canada where he will meet representatives of the Canadian Association of Physicists (CAP) in Ottawa and is likely to have informal discussions on how the CAP and the IOP can work more closely together in support of mutual objectives. The tour will finish with a public lecture by Sambles on “Acoustic and microwave metasurfaces” at the University of Ottawa on 4 January.

Commenting during the tour, Sambles said: “It has been a privilege to visit physics colleagues across the world, engendering fresh discussions regarding future collaborations with regard to IOP activities and to discuss in particular how best the IOP may be able to help the AIP and the NZIP.

“It has also been interesting to note the general astonishment with which they all greeted the Brexit vote and how they are unanimously fearful for UK science post-Brexit.

“Additionally, the visits have allowed me to communicate some of the excitement of physics and in particular of metamaterials research to a vibrant but somewhat disheartened community, many of whom are struggling through lack of research funding.

“I also thoroughly enjoyed the pioneering visit to Tasmania, being, as far as I am aware, the first by a serving president of the Institute of Physics. Their department has seen severe staff reductions and they were so pleased to receive the endorsement from us that this visit represented.”