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July 2009 Issue
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Adelaide physicist is top leader in science


University of Adelaide physicist Professor Tanya Monro has been judged Australia's top emerging leader in Science.

Announced at a lunch with Prime Minister Kevin Rudd in Canberra last month, Professor Monro is the winner of The Weekend Australian Magazine's Next 100 Emerging Leaders series in the Science category.

The national newspaper chose 100 emerging leaders in 10 key areas of national life, and profiled them in the newspaper over 10 weeks starting in April. The top 10 leaders - the winners in each category - were profiled in the paper on the weekend of 20-21 June.

Professor Monro, 36, is the Director of the University of Adelaide's new Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing and Director of the Centre of Expertise in Photonics. This is the latest in a number of prestigious awards and recognition she has received since starting at the University of Adelaide in early 2005 as the inaugural Chair of Photonics.

Last year she was named Physical Scientist of the Year - one of the five Prime Minister's Science Prizes - after earlier in the year being awarded one of the 2008 Australian Research Council Federation Fellowships.

Professor Monro has created a new class of optical fibres with innovative potential applications in medical research, defence, industry and environmental science. She is regarded as one of the world's leaders in optical fibre technology.

This new class of optical fibres, containing air holes and made from soft glass, is broadening the role of optical fibres from communications to areas such as diagnostics - detecting trace quantities of chemicals or biomolecules - and a variety of medical and defence applications.

Professor Monro's work has received support from both State and Federal governments, as well as the Defence Science & Technology Organisation.
The University's new Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing brings together research in optical fibres, lasers, luminescence, chemistry, proteomics and virology to develop new technologies focusing on some of the big problems in health, the environment, industrial processes and defence. With the specialised laboratories under construction later this year, the Institute's facilities will be unrivalled in the world.

Professor Monro is a member of the South Australian Premier's Science & Research Council, a founding steering member of the Royal Institution of Australia, and member of the 2008 community consultation panel for the Defence White Paper. In 2007, she was awarded the 'Women in Physics Lecture' by the Australian Institute of Physics and, in 2006, a Bright Spark award for Australia's Top 10 Scientific Minds under 45 by Cosmos magazine.

The University of Adelaide had three of its scientists in the list of 10 Emerging Leaders in Science. The others were Associate Professor Sarah Robertson and Professor Mark Tester.

Story by Robyn Mills

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Professor Tanya Monro
Photo by Kelly Barnes, courtesy of <i>The Australian</i>

Professor Tanya Monro
Photo by Kelly Barnes, courtesy of The Australian

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