Halina Rubinsztein-Dunlop

  • Professor
  • University of Queensland


Halina Rubinsztein-Dunlop is Professor of Physics in the School of Mathematics and Physics at the University of Queensland. She was educated at the University of Gothenburg and Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg in Sweden. She is a Director of Translational Research Program of ARC CoE for Engineered Quantum Systems and was for 9 years Head of School of Mathematics and Physics. She is Deputy Director of the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in Quantum Biotechnology. At the University of Queensland Halina leads large research groups in experimental quantum atom optics, laser micromanipulation and biophotonics. She also leads a program in the ARC Centre of Excellence in Engineered Quantum Systems.

From the atomic domain of Bose Einstein condensates to the macro domain of optomechanics, exploitation of the mechanical action of light has been a significant driver of new physics and new technologies for the past four decades and the trend shows no sign of weakening. Halina Rubinsztein-Dunlop is known internationally as a pioneer of this field. Her work on the mechanical action of light in biological and micron scale systems produced seminal results in the birth of this field in the 1990’s. She was the first to demonstrate transfer of angular momentum from singular beams carrying orbital angular momentum to absorbing particles on microscopic scale. These techniques are now being applied to a diverse range of studies such as microrheology, microscopic forces, twisting of DNA, investigation into the development of synaptic connections, studies of adhesive properties between cells. This work led to a number of application in studies of complex biological systems.

Rubinsztein-Dunlop has a distinguished record of achievement in the atomic domain of laser cooling and trapping of atoms. Recently, her group made observation of Onsager vortex clusters, a fundamental coherent structure in two-dimensional fluid turbulence, whose observation has evaded experimental attempts since the prediction of this state more than 70 years ago.

Halina is a recipient of numerous prizes and awards. She is a Fellow of Australian Academy of Science, a Fellow of SPIE and of OSA, a recipient of  Officer in the General Division (AO) of the Order of Australia for distinguished service to laser physics and nano-optics as a researcher, mentor and academic, to the promotion of educational programs, and to women in science (2018), Australian Optical Society W.H. (Beattie) Steel Medal (2018) and 2018 Eureka Prizes  in UNSW Eureka Prize for Excellence in Interdisciplinary Scientific Research. In 2019 she was awarded Lise Meitner Distinguished Lecture Tour of German and Austrian Physical Society.  In 2021 Halina was awarded the OSA C.E.K. Mees Medal. In 2020, she was awarded AIP Harrie Massey Medal and in 2022 Moyal Medal. In 2023 Halina was awarded Honorary Doctor of Science Degree by University of Glasgow.  Halina is also actively involved in popularisation and promotion of science.

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