Professor Michelle Yvonne Simmons

Professor in quantum physics

National Recipient Australian of the Year 2018

One of the world’s top scientists, Professor Michelle Simmons has pioneered research that could lead to a quantum leap in computing. Since arriving in Australia from Britain 18 years ago, Michelle has transformed the University of NSW Quantum Physics Department into a world leader in advanced computer systems. In 2012, Michelle and her team created the world’s first transistor made from a single atom, along with the world’s thinnest wire. At the forefront of what she calls the “space race of the computing era”, Michelle aims to build a quantum computer able to solve problems in minutes that would otherwise take thousands of years. Such a discovery has the potential to revolutionise drug design, weather forecasting, self-driving vehicles, artificial intelligence and more. An evangelist for Australian scientific research and a role model to young scientists everywhere, Michelle actively encourages all students – girls and boys – to dream big, challenge themselves and to achieve ambitious goals in science.