Scientia Professor Michelle Simmons, Professor of Physics at the University of New South Wales, who leads the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Quantum Computation and Communication Technology, has been named the 2011 NSW Scientist of the Year for pioneering the development of quantum computers. She was also the Category Winner for Mathematics, Earth Sciences, Chemistry, Physics and Astronomy.


Deputy Premier and Minister for Trade and Investment Andrew Stoner said Professor Simmons' work represents “a major technological challenge and opens the door to developing a silicon-based quantum computer, a powerful new form of computing that promises to transform industries dependent upon information processing".


Professor Simmons said she was honoured to receive the NSW Scientist of the Year Award.

"I'm pleased that this award will bring recognition to the work of the whole team, many of whom have been working on this project for years," Professor Simmons said.


"Quantum computing is not easy science – it takes many different skill sets. Here at UNSW we can manipulate individual atoms to create the world's smallest electronic devices. We are international leaders in this field. There is no-one else doing what we are doing and I am proud to lead this research effort," she said.


Professor Simmons moved to Sydney from Cambridge ten years ago and has three children under the age of eight.


The ARC Centre for Quantum Computation and Communication Technology is an international research effort, funded by the Australian Research Council, NSW Government, US Army Research Office and the Semiconductor Research Corporation and whose partners include the Australian Department of Defence, IBM and Toshiba.


Professor Simmons was one of twelve scientists, engineers and teachers who were honoured at the 2011 NSW Science and Engineering Awards. She wins $55,000 for her achievement.


For more information on Professor Simmons's work go to


Awards of $5,000 each were also granted in the following categories:

  • Climate Change and Environment: Professor Stuart Wenham FTSE, Director of the Photovoltaics Centre of Excellence,  University of New South Wales;
  • Biomedical Sciences and Engineering: Professor Michelle Haber AM, Children's Cancer Institute Australia, University of New South Wales;
  • Plant and Animal Research: Professor Richard Shine AM FAA, University of Sydney;
  • Engineering and Information and Communications Technology: Professor Chengqi Zhang, University of Technology, Sydney;
  • Emerging Research (tie): Scientia Professor Rose Amal, University of New South Wales and Dr Matthew Todd, University of Sydney;
  • Invention (tie): Emeritus Professor Geoff Smith, University of Technology, Sydney and Associate Professor Thorsten Trupke, University of New South Wales;
  • Innovation in Public Sector Sciences and Engineering: Dr John Leys, NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet, Office of Environment and Heritage;
  • Innovation in Science and Mathematics Education (tie): Ms Judith Bertolin, Western NSW Region Virtual Selective High School Provision and Dr Lesley Wright, Gresford Public School.

For more information on the awards visit