Distinguished Fellow, Michelle Simmons, awarded Royal Society Bakerian Medal

Scientia Professor Michell Simmons AO FRS DistFRSNFrom Dr Susan Pond AM FRSN, President of the Royal Society of NSW

On behalf of the Royal Society of NSW, I extend wholehearted congratulations to one of our Distinguished Fellows, Scientia Professor Michelle Simmons AO FRS DistFRSN FAA of UNSW (Sydney), on being awarded the Bakerian Medal and Lecture 2020 by the Royal Society. Professor Simmons has been recognised for “her seminal contributions to our understanding of nature at the atomic scale by creating a sequence of world-first quantum electronic devices in which individual atoms control device behaviour.”

The Royal Society’s Bakerian Medal and Lecture is its premier lecture in the physical sciences. The lectureship was established through a bequest by Henry Baker FRS of £100 for “an oration or discourse on such part of natural history or experimental philosophy, at such time and in such manner as the President and Council of the Society, for the time being, shall please to order and appoint”. The lecture series began in 1775. The medal is of silver gilt, is awarded annually, and is accompanied by a gift of £10,000.

Professor Simmons is the Director of the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Quantum Computation and Communication Technology (CQC2T) at UNSW Sydney, and also the founder of Australia’s first quantum computing company, Silicon Quantum Computing. Her achievements have been recognised by numerous prizes and fellowships. She has been recognised by the American Computer Museum as a pioneer in quantum computing, awarded the Feynman Prize in Nanotechnology, and named as the 2017 L’ORÉAL-UNESCO Asia-Pacific Laureate in the Physical Sciences. Professor Simmons was named Australian of the Year and admitted as a Fellow to the Royal Society of London in 2018, while in 2019 she was appointed as an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO). She is also a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science and a Distinguished Fellow of the Royal Society of NSW.

Speaking to UNSW News, Professor Simmons said that "few things have given her greater pleasure than hearing she was awarded the Bakerian Medal and that she will give the Bakerian Lecture. The Bakerian Medal means a great deal to me. The previous winners have been some truly inspirational individuals."

To read further, please see the announcement on the Royal Society website, an article in the UNSW Newsroom, and also an article (4 September 2021) in the Sydney Morning Herald.

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