I’m a theoretical physicist – so I use maths rather than experiments to understand the world around us. My research extends from fundamental topics such as the counterintuitive physics of tiny things, through to applications such as better ways of imaging flowing blood that can be used to help work out how clots form.
For me, theoretical physics is a social activity. While I can hide by myself at a desk and write physics equations all day (I did this when I wrote my book), I work best in small teams, thrashing out problems together at a whiteboard, throwing ideas back and forth like a tennis ball, evolving them, building them up, shooting them down, honing, refining, distilling, chipping steadily and persistently away over several months until an answer is reached – often to a different question to the one we started out with.
I mostly collaborate with other physicists, but also with biologists, physiologists, doctors, computer scientists and engineers.
I take pride and satisfaction in nurturing the careers of younger physicists. One particular pedagogical goal of mine is how to best foster creativity and leadership in science students.
Outside physics, I enjoy literature, psychology, politics, gardening and experimental music and think of myself as a de facto student of these topics although I don’t profess a deep knowledge. I have co-written articles at the interface between physics and poetry, physics and fine art, and physics and cognitive strategy.
My goal in life, which informs and drives all that I do as a scientist and beyond, is to make the world a better place for my having lived in it.
2002 R&D100 Award (shared); 2007 Monash Science Early Career Researcher Award; 2008 Monash Dean’s Teaching Award; 2009 ALTC Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning; 2009 Monash VC Award for Hons Supervision (shared).