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New Chief Defence Scientist announced

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5 September, 2008

Professor Robert G. Clark has been appointed Chief Defence Scientist, the Minister for Defence Science & Personnel, the Hon.Warren Snowdon MP, has announced.

Professor Robert Clark with his Eureka Prize for Leadership in Science.
Professor Robert Clark with his Eureka Prize for Leadership in Science.

Robert Clark’s early career involved 10 years’ service with the Royal Australian Navy (1969-79). During this time he undertook his BSc degree at the Royal Australian Naval College, Jervis Bay and the University of NSW. He received the EE Mayo Prize for top academic performance at the Naval College and the RAN (RNZN) Navigation Prize. He went on to serve in eight RAN ships and completed an Operations and Weapons course on exchange with the Royal Navy, UK. He was promoted to Lieutenant before leaving the RAN to complete a PhD in Physics at UNSW and the Clarendon Laboratory, University of Oxford.

After a postdoctoral research position at the Clarendon he was appointed University Lecturer in Physics at the University of Oxford and Fellow of The Queen's College, Oxford in 1984.

He returned to Australia in 1991 to take up the position of Professor of Experimental Physics at UNSW, where he founded and established the National Magnet Laboratory and Semiconductor Nanofabrication Facility. In 2000 he established the ARC Special Research Centre for Quantum Computer Technology (ARC Centre of Excellence from 2003), the world's largest Centre devoted to this new science, and has served as its Director since then.

Over the years Professor Clark has contributed to numerous national and international bodies. These include the Prime Minister's Science, Engineering and Innovation Council's Nanotechnology Working Group, the Australian Academy of Science, the US Government Quantum Computing Roadmap Technology Expert Panel, and the Review Committee for Los Alamos National Laboratory's Physics Division. 

He has the rare distinction of being awarded the Australian government’s Federation Fellowship on two occasions. He has also been awarded the Australian Defence Medal and the Centenary Medal.

Last month Professor Clark won the Eureka Prize for Leadership in Science for his pioneering role in making Australia a world leader in nanotechnology and quantum computing. Quantum computers have the potential to transform society with far-reaching applications in areas such as genetic engineering, biomedical science, weather prediction, finance and security.

Awards and honours

1988 – Wolfson award for prestigious research, Oxford University.

1991 – Conferred UK Mott Lecturer at the European Physical Society Meeting for research in condensed matter physics.

1994 – Elected Fellow, Institute for Advanced Study, Indiana University, USA.

1998 – Awarded Walter Boas Medal, Australian Institute of Physics.

2000 – Conferred title of Scientia Professor by the University of NSW; reconfirmed for 2007-11.

2001 – Elected Fellow, Australian Academy of Science; recipient of inaugural Australian government Federation Fellowship for 2002-06.

2003 – Awarded Centenary Medal; named in ‘Smart 100’ list for innovation and achievement by the Bulletin magazine.

2006 – Awarded Australian Defence Medal.

2007 – Awarded second Australian Government Federation Fellowship for 2007–12.

2008 – Awarded Eureka Prize for Leadership in Science.


The Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO) is part of Australia's Department of Defence. DSTO's role is to ensure the expert, impartial and innovative application of science and technology to the defence of Australia and its national interests.

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