en-us Inspired by Yarra

David Jamieson

YOG 1975

Professor of Physics, University of Melbourne

“Teachers at School became formative influencers in my Yarra experience.”

David Jamieson has been fascinated by science for as long as he can remember and that fascination was certainly encouraged during his years at Yarra Valley Grammar.

“I remember myself and my friends taking part in a program in rocketry. We’d build rockets and launch them on the oval or in the bush at school. Other kids got interested and would make rockets at home, board the bus with them to get to school and launch them at lunchtime. We learned a lot despite the hazards.”

David says laboratories at School were well-resourced and teachers encouraged his inquisitive nature and his passion for science, particularly physics.

After graduating he studied Science at the University of Melbourne and then did a PhD, majoring in Physics. He took a research post at the Californian Institute of Technology and moved to Los Angeles for a few years before joining researchers at the University of Oxford in England.

Travel has been an inevitable part of David’s research and academic career.

“A particular highlight of my time overseas was when my colleagues at the University of Florence arranged for me to inspect Galileo’s laboratory notebooks. To be able to touch those pages and to see the ink splatters, the crossings out made with Galileo’s quill and to see his sketches of the night sky was a wonderful experience,” says David.

“I could see the personality of the great astronomer as he observed the sky.”

David’s current research program at the University of Melbourne is aimed at making quantum devices in which a single atom is the functional component.

He is enthusiastic about sharing his learnings and insights with up and coming scientists, too, and helps organise public lectures on Physics each July.

“We bring apparatus to do live demonstrations and experiments in the lecture theatre,” he says.

“Physics and Science have never lost their fascination for me. I still remember watching the moon landing in 1969 when I was in Grade 6. On TV I watched Neil Armstrong descend the ladder to the moon’s surface and that night Mum pointed to the moon and said ‘there are men walking around up there right now’. I still feel the excitement of that expedition and how it was achieved.”


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