Honorary degree: Professor Helen Quinn

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Professor Helen Quinn with Vice-Chancellor Professor Brian Schmidt. Photo by Lannon Harley, ANU.

Professor Helen Quinn received her honorary degree, a Doctor of Science, on Thursday 13 December.

Professor Quinn's citation, which was read out just before, reads as follows.


Chancellor, it is my privilege to present to you for a degree of the University, Professor Helen Quinn.

Professor Quinn has made exceptional contributions to theoretical physics and science education.

She began her education at the University of Melbourne before transferring to Stanford University.  Her work on the Standard model of particle physics - that is, all the interactions we know of in our Universe excluding gravitation, is amongst the most important and profound physics work of the modern generation.

Working with Professors Howard Georgi and Steven Weinberg, Professor Quinn showed how the three fundamental interactions, or forces, of the- become the same interaction, a unified force, in extremely high-energy processes - for example in the time immediately after the Big Bang.

Subsequently, with Roberto Peccei, Professor Quinn originated the Peccei-Quinn Theory, to explain how the strong force, unlike the weak force, does not differentiate between matter and antimatter.

In addition to her fundamental contributions to theoretical physics and particle physics, she has had a long-term engagement in educational issues.

She was a co-founder and first president of the Contemporary Physics Education Project in the United States and helped design its first product, the Chart of Fundamental Particles and Interactions, that appears in many school classrooms next to the periodic table chart.

Professor Quinn was elected to the National Academy of Sciences while she was a staff member at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Centre and was then made a full Professor of Physics at Stanford.
She joined the Board on Science Education at the National Research Council and served as its Chair from 2009 to 2014.

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