Renowned physicist Professor John O'Connor has received two national honours for his passionate commitment to promoting science in schools and communities across Australia.
Professor O'Connor, Head of the University's School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences, has been elected as a Fellow of the highly prestigious Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering.
He has received the honour for his outstanding leadership in science and engineering outreach through innovative schools programs.
Today, Professor O'Connor will be presented with the Outstanding Service to Physics Award from the Australian Institute of Physics. The award recognises Professor O'Connor's service to physics covering research, teaching, outreach and professional activities.
Professor O'Connor said he welcomed the national honours that recognised a commitment he had made to science outreach more than 35 years ago.
"What many people forget is that science is all around us. Everything we rely on - transport, power, water, medications - all of these at some stage involves both scientists and engineers investigating new ways of doing things," Professor O'Connor said.
"Over the years, I've used many mediums such as media, school visits and public forums to remind people of the power of science."
Professor O'Connor was instrumental in the expansion of the University's highly successful Science and Engineering Challenge. This Challenge was devised as a way of addressing Australia's skill shortages in the engineering fields by showing high school students how interesting and challenging science and engineering-related subjects can be.
In 2009, the Science and Engineering Challenge involved almost 20,000 students from more than 600 schools across Australia.
Professor O'Connor is regular contributor to radio explaining often complex science theory in easy to understand terms. He is a foundation member of the Australian Science Communicators and was a member of the Prime Minister's Science, Engineering and Innovation Council's working party on science awareness.
His research interests lie in the field of materials science, with a particular emphasis on surface physics. A national leader in this field, he has provided expert knowledge and guidance to the Australian ITER Forum - a group of Australian scientists and engineers seeking to advance fusion science.
Professor O'Connor has held a number of high profile science positions over the years and is currently a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Physics, and a Fellow of the Institute of Physics in the United Kingdom.