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August 2009 Issue
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Physics leader returns to Adelaide

 Science

The University of Adelaide will become a major centre for global research into nuclear and particle physics after winning a highly prestigious Australian Laureate Fellowship.

The Fellowship - one of only 15 awarded nationwide last month by the Australian Research Council (ARC) - has been awarded to internationally renowned physicist Professor Anthony Thomas.

Professor Thomas FAA is Chief Scientist and Associate Director for Theoretical and Computational Physics at Jefferson Lab, the US Department of Energy's Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility in Virginia, USA.

He will return to the University of Adelaide later this year to take up the Fellowship and lead a new Research Centre for Complex Systems and the Structure of Matter.

Before taking his position at Jefferson Lab in 2004 he was Director of the University's ARC Special Research Centre for the Subatomic Structure of Matter and Elder Professor of Physics.

"We are tremendously excited to have this most eminent scientist rejoin us to pursue challenges at the frontiers of nuclear and particle physics and their interface with astrophysics; his appointment represents a significant boost to Australia's research strength in the fundamental sciences," said the University of Adelaide's Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), Professor Mike Brooks.

"Professor Thomas will explore the structure of neutron stars and probe the nature of atomic nuclei. His world-leading research has already inspired major experimental programs at many of the world's nuclear and particle physics accelerators."

At Jefferson Lab, Professor Thomas has overall responsibility for the facility's scientific programs, ranging from experimental nuclear physics to photon science and theoretical and computational physics.

Professor Thomas also serves as Chair of the Working Group (WG.9) on International Cooperation in Nuclear Physics of the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP).

His many awards include the Harrie Massey Medal (UK Institute of Physics), the Thomas Ranken Lyle Medal (Australian Academy of Science) and the Walter Boas Medal (Australian Institute of Physics). He is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, the Australian Institute of Physics, the UK Institute of Physics and the American Physical Society.

Professor Thomas said: "I am delighted to have this opportunity to return to Australia to begin a new chapter of scientific discovery in physics at the University of Adelaide. There is already an outstanding group of researchers there, and the Laureate Fellowship offers the chance to expand the areas of research in new directions, from the structure of pulsars to dark matter, the quark and gluon structure of atomic nuclei and the origin of the mass and spin of the proton."

Story by Robyn Mills

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Professor Anthony Thomas

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An artistís impression of an exploding neutron star
Image by NASA/Dana Berry

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