New appointment for La Trobe

A leading physicist – currently directing one of the most important items of scientific infrastructure ever built in Australia, the Australian Synchrotron – has been appointed Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Vice-President (Research) at La Trobe University.

He is Keith Nugent, Laureate Professor of Physics at the University of Melbourne, an internationally recognised specialist inX-ray physics, optical microscopy and biophysical imaging. Professor Nugent will take up his post mid January next year.

Vice-Chancellor, Professor John Dewar, said this was a wonderful appointment for La Trobe and he was delighted Professor Nugent has agreed to join the University.

The appointment comes at a critical time, as two new world-class science facilities are about to be opened on the University’s Melbourne campus – the  $288million Agribio Centre and $94million La Trobe Institute of Molecular Science (LIMS).

Professor Dewar said Professor Nugent would lead the reinvigoration of La Trobe’s research capacity to realise the University’s new ‘World Ready’ Strategic Plan. This aims to return La Trobe to the ranks of the top 300 global universities by 2017.

Professor Nugent said he was very excited at the prospect of working with a re-vitalised executive team to help build a new future for La Trobe University.

Born in Bath, England, Professor Nugent holds afirst class honours degree from the University of Adelaide and a postgraduate degree from ANU in Canberra.

His scientific career highlights the changing nature and critical importance of interdisciplinary research and the wide-ranging implications this has for converging technologies of the future.

Research Director since 2005 of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coherent X-ray Science – in which La Trobe also has a significant and long-standing role – Professor Nugent has driven the development of coherent X-ray diffraction methods for imaging biological structures.

His research has developed X-ray and optical phase imaging methods. Some aspects of this work were commercialised via the listed company IATIA Ltd on which Professor Nugent has served as a Board member, and the methods are now widely used in a number of areas such as medical imaging, industrial inspection and palaeontology.

He has helped pioneer a 360 degree X-ray optical instrument known as the ‘lobster-eye’ telescope, based on the capillary structure responsible for the animal’s vision. The technology was selected to fly on a mission with the International Space Station.

In 2001 Professor Nugent was made an AustralianResearch Council Federation Fellow, a position renewed in 2006.

He is the only Australian to twice receive an ‘RD100 Award’, the R&D magazine award for the year’s 100 most technologically significant products and advancements.

A Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, Professor Nugent has received numerous awards including the Academy’s Pawsey Medal for outstanding research in physics, the Walter Boas Medal for excellence by the Australian Institute of Physics, a Centenary Medal and the 2004 Victoria Prize.

Professor Nugent was appointed Director of the Australian Synchrotron in 2011. 


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