b. 1971

'The job I’m doing now didn’t exist when I graduated.'

When Amanda Barnard studied physics at RMIT she was the only woman in her graduating class. Throughout her career she has found her gender to be both a barrier and a benefit. She looks forward to a time when it won’t matter and all scientists will be judged equally on the merit of their work.

Amanda is a Science Leader and Chief Research Scientist at Data61, the digital and data arm of CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation). She works in nanotechnology as a theoretical condensed matter physicist, combining mathematics, computer programming and data analysis to explore the structure and properties of nanoparticles.

Amanda describes her work as that of an enabler. She and her team develop software and tools that can help other researchers solve problems in a broad range of industries and fields. Amanda was the first woman and the first Australian to win the prestigious Feynman Prize in Nanotechnology (Theory), an award that is often described as the Nobel Prize of the nanoscience world. The award recognised her discovery that diamond nanoparticles have electrostatic properties, a finding that is aiding the development of chemotherapy treatments that target brain tumours.