Fellows update—September 2021

September 30, 2021

Honours and awards to Fellows

Dr TJ Higgins AO FAA FTSECrawford Fund Medal

Professor Lidia Morawska FAATIME 100 Most Influential People 2021

Professor Rod Tucker OAM FAA FTSEIEEE Photonics Award

More news

Professor Terry Tao FAA FRS was selected to serve on to US President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.

Professor Colin Raston AO FAA was interviewed in episode 3 of ABC’s The Chemical World

Professor Veena Sahajwalla FAA FTSE and Professor Toby Walsh FAA starred in NSW Dept of Education’s EdLive videos

Professor Lidia Morawska FAA, Professor Brian Schmidt AC FAA FRS Nobel Laureate and Professor Toby Walsh FAA participated in a panel of scientists on ABC TV’s Q&A.


Professor Derek Robinson DPhil FAA FAustMS


26 May 1935 – 31 August 2021

Professor Derek Robinson was born in the UK in 1935. His academic ability was recognised early, and he was able to go to a grammar school and then on to Oxford. After completing his DPhil at Oxford in nuclear physics, Professor Robinson became more interested in the mathematical basis of quantum mechanics and quantum statistical mechanics and consequently spent time in Zurich, Illinois, Paris, Marseilles and CERN before accepting a position at Marseilles where he stayed for 10 years. In 1978, he moved with his family to Sydney to take up a professorship at UNSW. In 1982 he moved to the Institute for Advanced Studies at the Australian National University and, following his retirement in 2000, he continued to be research active into 2021.

Professor Robinson was an incredibly productive mathematician throughout his life. Among his greatest achievements is the legendary two-volume work ‘Operator Algebras and Quantum Statistical Mechanics’ with Ole Bratteli. These volumes did not just summarise a research field, they hugely developed it and guided research in the field for decades afterward. Another signal achievement was his work with Elliot Lieb on the problem of demonstrating wave-like behaviour of quantum spin systems with finite range interactions. A bound on the speed of propagation is now known as a Lieb-Robinson bound. Published in 1972, this has become a hot topic in recent years, with a great burst of activity. He also made important contributions to analysis on Lie groups and harmonic analysis in general.

Professor Robinson was elected to the Academy in 1980 for his pioneering work in mathematical physics. He was also a Fellow and Honorary Member of the Australian Mathematical Society and served as its President from 1994 to 1996. He received the Academy’s Thomas Ranken Lyle Medal in 1981 and the Centenary Medal in 2001. Professor Robinson gave his time generously to the Academy, including as Chair of the National Committee for Mathematics.

Professor Robinson’s colleagues and friends at the Mathematical Sciences Institute, ANU recall Derek’s stellar academic contributions, his warmth, good humour, extraordinary cycling exploits, and his mentoring of younger mathematicians.

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