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Plenary Speakers

An exciting array of speakers is being put together by the Program Committee, visit the website regularly for updates!

Professor Takaaki Kajita

Takaaki Kajita got his PhD in 1986 from the University of Tokyo. He is at the Institute for Cosmic Ray Research of the University of Tokyo. He has been working in atmospheric neutrinos in Kamiokande and Super-Kamiokande. He is currently working in KAGRA gravitational wave project. He received Nobel Prize in Physics in 2015 for the discovery of neutrino oscillations.

Professor Alain Aspect

Born in 1947, Alain Aspect is an alumni of ENS Cachan and Université d'Orsay. After three years teaching in Cameroon, he became a lecturer at ENS Cachan, with his research at Institut d'Optique.In 1985 he took a research position at ENS/Collège de France, with Claude Cohen-Tannoudji. Since 1992 he has been a CNRS senior researcher (emeritus since 2012), at Institut d'Optique. He is also a professor at Institut d'Optique Graduat School (Augustin Fresnel chair), and at Ecole Polytechnique, in Palaiseau.

He is a member of the Académie des Sciences (France), Académie des Technologies (France), National Academy of Sciences (USA), OAW (Austria).

Professor Jean Jacquinot

Jean Jacquinot is a physicist, has devoted his entire career to magnetic fusion. He has worked in JET for 18 years and became its director 1n 1999. A member of the ITER advisory committee as early as 1992, he led the CEA activities in fusion from the year 2000 to 2004 while taking part in the ITER international negotiations. Jean Jacquinot is presently a senior adviser to the ITER DG and a scientific adviser to the French commission for atomic energy.

Professor Youngah Park

Youngah Park has been serving as the President of Korea Institute of S&T Evaluation and Planning (KISTEP) since 2013. She has been a professor of Statistical Mechanics at the Department of Physics at Myongji University since 1989. After completing her undergraduate studies at Seoul National University majoring in Physics, she received her Ph.D. in Statistical Mechanics at University of Pennsylvania in 1987. Her research areas include critical phenomena, neural networks, soft matter, and biological physics. She has been the chair of the Women in Physics working group of Association of the Asia Pacific Physical Societies (AAPPS) since 2006 and chaired the local organizing committee of the 3rd International Conference on Women in Physics (ICWIP) in 2008. She was a member of the National Assembly of Republic of Korea from 2008 to 2012 representing Songpa 1st district in Seoul and served as a member of the Committee on Education, Science and Technology. She has also been serving as a member of the Presidential Advisory Council on Science & Technology (Creative Economy Team) since November 2014. Her main areas of interest include role of innovation in science and technology, education, women in science, and gender issues.

Professor David Reitze

David Reitze holds joint positions as the Executive Director of the LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory) Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology and a Professor of Physics at the University of Florida. He received a Ph. D. in Physics from the University of Texas at Austin in ultrafast laser spectroscopy in 1990 and has worked extensively in the area of experimental gravitational-wave detection for 20 years. He has authored or co-authored over 250 peer-reviewed publications, and is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and the Optical Society of America.

Professor Michelle Y Simmons

Michelle Simmons is currently a Scientia professor and Laureate Fellow at the University of New South Wales. She obtained a double degree in physics and chemistry and was awarded a PhD in Physics from Durham University, UK in 1992. Her Postdoctoral position was as a Research Fellow in quantum electronics at the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge, UK where she gained an international reputation for her work in the discovery of the ‘0.7 feature’ and metallic behaviour in 2D Gas hole systems. In 1999, she was awarded a QEII Fellowship and came to Australia where she was a founding member of the Centre of Excellence for Quantum Computer Technology.

Since then she has established a large research group dedicated to the fabrication of atomic-scale devices in silicon and germanium using the atomic precision of a scanning tunneling microscope. Her group is the only group world-wide that can make atomically precise devices in silicon: they have developed the world’s first single atom transistor and the thinnest conducting doped wires in silicon. She has published more than 360 papers in refereed journals with an h-index of 40 including 27 Physical Review Letters and papers in Nature, Science, Nature Materials, Nature Physics and Nature Nanotechnology. She has been awarded two Federation Fellowships and is currently an ARC Laureate Fellow. In 2005 she was awarded the Pawsey Medal by the Australian Academy of Science becoming one of the youngest elected Fellows of this Academy in 2006. In 2012 she was named NSW Scientist of the Year and in 2014 became an elected Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Science. In 2015, Michelle was awarded the Thomas Ranken Lyle Medal, and was the winner of the Eureka Prize for Leadership in Science.

Professor Qi-Kun Xue

Member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences
Vice President for Research
Director of State Key Lab of Quantum Physics
Department of Physics, Tsinghua University

Our research activities focus on the following areas: epitaxial growth of novel quantum materials including topological insulators and superconducting films, atomic-scale probing of electronic and magnetic properties on surfaces, and development of new measurement techniques with high spatial and energy resolutions. The goal is to prepare low-dimensional structures exhibiting pronounced quantum phenomena and obtain detailed understanding of growth dynamics and various quantum mechanical effects on solid surfaces and in thin films.

Our main experimental tools are molecular beam epitaxy (MBE), scanning tunneling microscopy (STM), non-contact atomic force microscopy (AFM) and angle resolved photon emission spectroscopy (ARPES). We grow thin films of various metals, topological insulators, superconductors and semiconductors by homoepitaxy and heterepitaxy. The state-of-the-art STM technique enables us to image, manipulate and spectroscopically characterize atomic and molecular structures on surfaces at ultra-low temperature and in high magnetic field.

Professor Richard Easther

I grew up in New Zealand, and was educated at the University of Canterbury. After graduating with my PhD 1994 I held post-doctoral fellowships at Waseda University in Japan and at Brown and Columbia Universities in the United States.

I was a professor at Yale University from 2004 until the end of 2011, when I returned to New Zealand. I am now a professor and Head of the Department of Physics here at the University of Auckland.

Research | Current

My work focuses on the physics of the very early universe. I explore the cosmological implications of string theory and the inflationary epoch, a period of accelerated expansion immediately after the big bang thought to set the stage for the subsequent evolution of the universe.

I am interested in the evolution of the universe during the 'primordial dark ages' between the end of inflation and the nucleosynthesis era, a period a few minutes after the big bang when chemical elements more complicated than hydrogen are first formed.

The growth of cosmological perturbations during this phase depends on the nature of dark matter and other phenomena outside the 'standard model' of particle physics, allowing cosmology to reveal unknown particle physics.

Research areas


  • The physics of the very early universe
  • Inflationary cosmology
  • The cosmological implications of string theory
  • The multiverse and eternal inflation
  • Astrophysical tests of models of the early universe
  • Dark matter and cosmological observables