Professor Ben Eggleton
Professor Ben Eggleton, who majored in maths and physics as part of his undergraduate Bachelor of Science degree (Hons) at Sydney University, says that the high quality of science teaching and mentoring, combined with the chance to engage in hands-on research, gave him the skills and drive to pursue a career in science and technology. “Science at Sydney gives you a great opportunity to not only participate in research projects, but to be part of a team and work at the frontline of new discoveries and developments,” he says.
Ben spent the summers of his undergraduate years working in the astronomy department. “This is something Sydney does extremely well – there’s a huge range of different research programs and undergraduates can get a real taste of working as part of a team, going on field trips, presenting at meetings, having access to cutting edge equipment. It exposes you to real-world research and allows you to get your name on publications at an early stage,“ he says.
It’s how Ben found his true interest in optical communications. He completed a PhD at Sydney and postdoctoral research at Bell Laboratories in the US, where he had the opportunity to work at the interface of science and technology. Ben returned to Sydney University and is now the director of the Centre for Ultrahigh bandwidth Devices for Optical Systems (CUDOS), a consortium involving several Australian universities. He states “our goal is to transform the communications industry with photonic chip technology. This will allow us to process data at high speed and low cost, while consuming little power.”
Ben explains that optical networks have the potential to not only transform communications, but could revolutionise health, education and defence by offering faster, more efficient communications systems. “This is big picture, exciting science, but it’s not done in isolation. We work with industry partners, international groups and other universities to achieve these goals. Science today is a collaborative approach to solving problems and achieving breakthrough technology.”
Ben hopes that potential undergraduates will recognise the great opportunities they have to work at the interface of science research and technology at Sydney. “There’s a lot happening now and over the coming years, especially with the new Australian Institute for Nanotechnology being built on campus. The Institute’s research in nanoscience and the development of nano-devices will have impacts in many fields including physics, materials science, photonics and medicine. It really is an outstanding achievement for the University,” Ben says.