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Ruby Payne-Scott Award for excellence in early-career research

To recognise outstanding contributions made by a physicist (theoretical, experimental, computational, or technical) who is just beginning their career, and to help promote the careers of exceptionally promising young physicists.


In 2013, in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Australian Institute of Physics, the AIP Executive proposed an award to recognise outstanding physics research by an early career researcher.  It was decided that the award should be called the Ruby Payne-Scott Early Career Research Award.  It is named after one of Australia’s most outstanding physicists, who is best known for her pioneering contributions to radio-astronomy in Australia during the time (1941-1951) she was an early career researcher.


The prize is awarded biennially in Congress years and consists of a medal and a certificate. The recipient is expected to present a paper at the AIP Congress in the year of the award, and to publish an article in Australian Physics. Travel support to the Congress will be provided within Australia for the recipient to receive the award and to deliver the lecture.

The recipient must have been an Australian Institute of Physics member for at least six months prior to the nomination deadline (this requirement will be relaxed for the inaugural award). Only one prize shall be awarded on each occasion. If the selection committee considers that none of the nominations are of appropriate standard, no award will be made. The prize shall not be awarded more than once to the same person.  This award recognises outstanding physics research in any subfields of physics performed by an early career researcher, where ‘early career’ is defined as those individuals in the first 12 years of their career (allowing for any career breaks or part-time study), following the award of a first degree. To be considered, nominees must be within this period, which ends on 1 July in the year which the medal is to be awarded. For example, a person nominated for the 2020 Medal, who has had no career breaks, must have received their first physics related degree no earlier than 1 July 2008. The research recognised could either be a single piece of work, or the sum of contributions. In addition, awards are given in order of AIP award seniority; i.e. individuals who have won one of the other AIP awards (apart from the Bragg Gold Medal) may not be awarded an early career award.

Nominations should be submitted using the early career research nomination form and emailed to the AIP Special Projects Officer along with any supporting documentation. Self-nominations will be accepted.

A call for nominations is made through all AIP publications and social media. A selection committee, appointed by the AIP Executive, shall determine the recipient of the prize from the nominations, taking into account the overall quality and significance of the contribution and the creativity exhibited in the contribution. The AIP Executive will have final approval of the selected candidate. The award will be presented to the winner at the AIP Congress in the year of the award. The award will not be presented in absentia.

Physicists come from diverse cultures, backgrounds and experiences. It is our collective goal to identify and nurture the future leaders of the organisation and to ensure that they represent the wide diversity of career stage, ethnicity, gender, geographic location, institutional size, and race. Therefore the AIP strives for balance and diversity in its awards and as a result the AIP Executive has decided that an award will not be considered until we have received at least one male and one female nomination.

Nominations close on 1 June 2022.

Previous Winners

  • 2020 Dr Magdalena Zych, University of Queensland 
  • 2018 Dr Jacquiline Romero, University of Queensland
  • 2016 Dr Marcus Doherty, Australian National University

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