The Hush Fund

Noel Hush

Emeritus Professor Noel Hush


In 1929 Dirac famously said "The underlying physical laws necessary for the mathematical theory of a large part of physics and the whole of chemistry are thus completely known, and the difficulty is only that the exact application of these laws leads to equations much too complicated to be soluble." Chemistry works by Dirac's laws, but just how was inconceivable. Now some 80 years later, mathematics and computers have advanced to the point where the deep inner secrets of chemistry are constantly being exposed. Materials and drugs can be designed from first principles, shortening the time and effort required to make significant new discoveries. Unified chemical theories now depict processes from biological self assembly to enzyme function to industrial catalysis to molecular colour and reactivity to molecular conductivity to organic photovoltaics to the nature of metals to superconductivity.

As a young student at The University of Sydney a decade after Dirac, Professor Hush was inspired by this vision. In a long career of academic research, he has worked to provide understanding at the basic quantum-theoretical level for chemical properties and reactivities. This has been extremely wide-ranging in scope: however, a continuing theme has been the dynamics of electron transfer reactions, from through-molecule electron transport to electrode processes, photosynthesis and most recently Molecular Electronics, the ultimate form of nanotechnology.

Professor Hush is one of Australia's most distinguished and internationally-renowned chemists. He has been elected as a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, of the Royal Society of London, to Foreign Membership of the U.S. Academy of Arts and Sciences, and as Officer of the Order of Australia. His most recent honour is the 2007 Robert A. Welch Prize, the major United States award for chemical research, given for the first time for Theoretical Chemistry.

In 1972 Professor Hush returned after 23 years at major universities in the United Kingdom to establish this country's first academic department devoted to such studies, The Department of Theoretical Chemistry at The University of Sydney. A wide-ranging teaching program was introduced, and a flourishing research program evolved. He was a major organizer of the Australian Summer Schools in Theoretical Chemistry during 1977-1984, events that brought computational methods into mainstream scientific use in this country. His work has established both Australia and The University of Sydney as major world players in the field. This legacy continues now long after his formal retirement, with Theoretical Chemistry being listed in 2011 as one of 15 research areas at which the University is internationally truly outstanding. Professor Hush himself remains actively engaged in research at this University.

The Hush Fellowship Fund provides prizes and encouragements for students in Theoretical Chemistry, as well as bringing to Australia distinguished overseas leaders to address public meetings to enhance teaching and research.

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