News

Sounds of the stars make Dr Stello a winner


31 October 2013

Left to Right: The University of Sydney's Dr Dennis Stello (far left) receives his Young Talll Poppy of the Year Award accompanied by selection committee members  Professor John O'Connor from the University of Newcastle and Professor Clive Baldock from Macquarie University.
Left to Right: The University of Sydney's Dr Dennis Stello (far left) receives his Young Talll Poppy of the Year Award accompanied by selection committee members Professor John O'Connor from the University of Newcastle and Professor Clive Baldock from Macquarie University.

The sun and most other stars experience a continuous rumble from massive internal quakes, making them ring like big vibrating bells in the sky.

For his work studying the sounds of stars and what they reveal about their intricate inner workings, the University of Sydney's Dr Dennis Stello has won the NSW Young Tall Poppy of the Year award.

This is the second year in a row that an academic from the University, and from the School of Physics, has won the award.

Run by the Australian Institute of Policy and Science, the Young Tall Poppy Science Awards recognise individuals who combine world-class research with a passionate commitment to communicating science and who demonstrate great leadership potential.
This year nine scientists were chosen from disciplines spanning ecology and climate change research, materials science and psychology.

Dr Stello was chosen as NSW Young Tall Poppy of the Year, whileDr Alexander Argyros, another academic from the School of Physics, won a NSW Young Tall Poppy award at the ceremony held at the Powerhouse Museum last night.

Working in a new field of astrophysics called asteroseismology Dr Stello's research exploits the fact that each star 'plays' its own particular range of notes, which reveals its size, age, and composition, just like the timbre of instruments in a large orchestra.

"By following thousands of stars and studying their interior structures, I am exploring how stars like our sun grow old. This will ultimately help us understand the sun's behaviour and potential impact on its surroundings, including conditions on Earth such as cloud formation and global temperatures," said Dr Stello.

"I'm excited about the great opportunities this award will give me to communicate this fascinating science and to voice the importance of science in society."

The research focus of award winner Dr Alexander Argyros is how light interacts with microscopic structures in materials.

He works on optical fibres, with micron-sized holes running the length of the fibre, to make them more transparent, to allow faster connections, or for medical applications, such as detecting different chemicals.

Dr Argyros recently contributed to the development of a metamaterial lens with ten times the resolution of any current lens, making it a powerful new tool for the biological sciences.

The awards ceremony was attended by more than 50 leading representatives of the science, technology, engineering and education sectors from universities, business and industry groups.

"This award gives me the opportunity to raise awareness about our work, not only with the public, but also with other researchers in medicine or biology that can utilise our innovations in their research," Dr Argyros said.

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Media enquiries: Verity Leatherdale: (02) 9351 4312, 0403 067 342 or verity.leatherdale@sydney.edu.au