Skip to main content

Michelle Simmons, 2018

by Selina Ou

Michelle Simmons, 2018 Selina Ou
Michelle Simmons, 2018 Selina Ou

Michelle Simmons (b. 1967), 2018 Australian of the Year, is a pioneer in atomic electronics and quantum computing. Born in London, she obtained a double degree in physics and chemistry from Durham University and a PhD in physics. As a postdoctoral Research Fellow in quantum electronics at the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge, she gained international recognition for her work on the discovery of the ‘0.7 feature’ and in the development of ‘hole transistors’. In 1999 she was awarded a QEII Fellowship and emigrated to Australia, where she is now Director of the Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre of Excellence for Quantum Computation and Communication Technology. Her honours include the Australian Academy of Science’s Pawsey Medal (2005) and Thomas Ranken Lyle Medal (2015), the NSW Scientist of the Year (2011), the Australian Museum’s CSIRO Eureka Prize for Leadership in Science (2015), and the US Foresight Institute Feynman Prize in Nanotechnology for her work in ‘the new field of atomic-electronics, which she created’ (2016). She has been recognised by the American Computer Museum as a pioneer in quantum computing, is Editor-in-Chief of Nature Quantum Information and was named the 2017 L’ORÉAL-UNESCO Asia-Pacific Laureate in the Physical Sciences. An ARC Laureate fellow, she has twice been an ARC Federation fellow and is an elected fellow of the Australian Academy of Science and the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences, as well as an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Royal Society in London. Currently Scientia Professor of Physics at the University of New South Wales, she strongly encourages girls to pursue careers in science and technology and is a prominent advocate for the promotion of women to leadership roles at local and international levels.

Michelle Simmons
Video: 5 minutes 56 seconds

Selina Ou

‘There have been many fantastic photographs of Michelle in her lab, connecting her to her illustrious career as a quantum physicist. With more female role models being called for across society, I wanted to convey not only her professional accomplishments, but also her powerful intellect, warmth, openness and generous spirit – all character traits that underpin her intricate life as a trailblazer, wife and mother of three. In Michelle one can see the strength, resilience and unlimited potential of the modern woman in any field of work, and it is this aspect of her I most wanted to capture.’

Selina Ou (b. 1977), a Melbourne-based photographer, established her reputation through photographs of figures in urban environments that teem with detail, such as streets, convenience stores, workshops, hardware outlets and pharmacies. Ou completed her honours degree majoring in photography at the Victorian College of the Arts in 2001. In 2003, she was awarded the City of Hobart Art Prize; two years later she won the ANZ Emerging Artist Award. Her series New York was shown at Sophie Gannon Gallery and Gertrude Contemporary in Melbourne in 2011; she was represented in the exhibition Melbourne Now at the National Gallery of Victoria in 2013. Ou has held a number of artist residencies in Australia, China, Japan, Chile and the USA, funded by grants from the Australia Council, Arts Victoria and municipalities in China and Japan.

Commissioned with funds provided by the Sid and Fiona Myer Family Foundation 2018

© National Portrait Gallery 2020
King Edward Terrace, Parkes
Canberra, ACT 2600, Australia

Phone +61 2 6102 7000
Fax +61 2 6102 7001
ABN: 54 74 277 1196

The National Portrait Gallery of Australia (NPGA) acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.