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May 9, 2021

Australian female scientists to be honoured in Paris

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Professor Michelle Simmons from UNSW will be awarded €100,000 to support her cutting-edge research in quantum computing. Photo supplied.
Professor Michelle Simmons from UNSW will be awarded €100,000 to support her cutting-edge research in quantum computing. Photo supplied.

Professor Michelle Simmons from UNSW and Associate Professor Muireann Irish from the University of Sydney are both being recognised for their contribution to science in Paris, France today.

Professor Simmons is one of five 2017 Laureates who will be awarded €100,000 to support her cutting-edge research in quantum computing. Associate Professor Irish will be named one of the 2017 International Rising Talents for her Clinical Medicine work.

UNESCO Science Report Towards 2030, 2015 reported that  only 28 per cent of researchers are women and only 3 per cent of Scientific Nobel Prizes are awarded to them. Nineteen years ago L’Oréal combined forces with UNESCO to recognise Women in Science and have been committed to increasing the number of women working in scientific research.

Quantum com­puters

Professor Simmons has been been developing the computers of the future: quantum com­puters. These extremely small and powerful machines could solve certain problems in ten seconds compared to many thousands of years for a traditional computer.

This breakthrough is possible thanks to the atomic transistor. A transistor is the main com­ponent of all computers and it is the intercon­nection between millions of transistors on chips that allow electronics devices to work.

In 2012, together with her team, she broke another world record by creating a transistor made from just one atom. The same year, they succeeded in fabricating the thinnest conduct­ing doped wires in silicon. These wires are 10,000 times thinner than a human hair and are key components of an atomic-sized computer.

Associate Professor Muireann Irish from the University of Sydney will be named one of the 2017 International Rising Talents for her Clinical Medicine work. Photo supplied.
Associate Professor Muireann Irish from the University of Sydney will be named one of the 2017 International Rising Talents for her Clinical Medicine work. Photo supplied.

Alzheimers

Watching someone you love and care about suffering from the onset of Alzheimers is heartbreaking.

‘It was after seeing my grandmother suffering from the devastating effects of Alzheimer’s when I was 17 years old that I decided to pursue a research career in the field of neurodegenerative diseases, says Professor Irish.

Today she is looking at ways to recognise the the disease before it becomes the first signs of the disease appear.

‘I study the brains of pathological and non-pathological aging, and am beginning to explore changes in individuals who have a genetic predisposition for dementia, but who have no outward symptoms,’ she explained.


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