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Michelle Simmons
, 2018

by Selina Ou

inkjet print (frame: 124.0 x 89.0 x 4 cm)

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.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Commissioned with funds provided by the Sid and Fiona Myer Family Foundation 2018
Accession number: 2018.50