In Summary

Professor Margaret Reid from Swinburne University of Technology has been elected to the Fellowship of the Australian Academy of Science for her pioneering work in new fundamental tests of quantum theory, including teleportation and cryptography. 

Representing leading research scientists from institutions around Australia, the Australian Academy of Science annually honours a small number of Australian scientists with election to the Academy for their outstanding contributions to science. Professor Reid said she feels honoured to be elected to the Fellowship. 

“I feel very lucky to receive this honour. It has been made possible because of the support given to me by the Australian Research Council through their fellowship schemes, the Australian Centre for Quantum-Atom Optics and the daily encouragement given here at Swinburne.  

“Quantum mechanics is a fascinating theory. Over the span of my career, with the improvements made to lasers, rigorous tests became feasible, like testing Einstein’s idea that quantum mechanics predicts “’spooky’ action at a distance,” said Professor Reid.  

“When I started as a student, a lot of people thought these ideas were just for philosophy, then it was realized that this sort of quantum mechanics had real applications, so now there is a whole field called quantum information.”  

Professor Reid said she has been able to push her research forward through her time at Swinburne’s Centre for Quantum and Optical Science.  

“Recently, there have been more developments for testing theories like using lasers to cool atoms and mechanical objects so they have no thermal motion. I moved to Swinburne because they are world class at doing this sort of cooling and there are exciting possibilities for new tests of quantum mechanics, like creating “Schrodinger cats”, weird groups of atoms that seem to exist in two places at once.” 

Election to the Fellowship recognises a career that has significantly advanced the world's store of scientific knowledge. The Academy’s President Suzanne Cory congratulated all of the new Fellows.  

“All of these scientists are doing amazing and significant work in their chosen fields – they are the Olympic athletes of science.” 

Becoming part of the Fellowship is a great accomplishment for any Australian scientist, but Professor Reid sees it as further recognition for female scientists. 

“The idea that women are in any way inferior when it comes to doing physics or mathematics is a complete myth. Unfortunately, a big problem is that not all the great achievements made by the women physicists of the last century were properly recognized. But that has and will continue to change as more and more women are recognised for their contributions to science.” 

Professor Reid along with the new Fellows will be admitted to the Australian Academy of Science and present summaries of the work for which they have been honoured at the Academy’s annual three-day celebration, Science at the Shine Dome, in May.  

The full list of new Fellows can be viewed here.