Australian of the Year awards: Quantum physicist Michelle Yvonne Simmons receives 2018 honour
Quantum physicist Professor Michelle Yvonne Simmons, whose work has been heralded as launching Australia into “the space race of the computing era”, has been named this year’s Australian of the Year.
Eddie Woo (Australia’s Local Hero), Samantha Kerr (Young Australian of the Year) and Dr Graham Farquhar AO (Senior Australian of the Year) were also honoured at a ceremony in Canberra tonight.
Since arriving in Australia from Britain in 1999, Professor Simmons’ work at the University of NSW quantum physics department has helped develop leading technology on a global scale.
Five years ago, Professor Simmons and her team developed the world’s first transistor made from a single atom, as well as the world’s thinnest wire.
Now she is looking to build a quantum computer capable of solving problems in minutes, which would otherwise take thousands of years.
Such a discovery has the potential to revolutionise drug design, weather forecasting, self-driving vehicles and artificial intelligence.
In addition to her role as one of the world’s top scientists, Professor Simmons is an advocate for young girls who also want to pursue a career in science and technology.