Physics dynamos visit star of the South

Flinders University hosted 100 of the world’s brightest emerging physics stars from 13 countries on Wednesday 8 May 2019, who were in Adelaide to participate in the prestigious 20th Asian Physics Olympiad.

From China, Kazakhstan, Indonesia, Israel, India and beyond, the industrious high school students visited the University’s physics labs and heard about Flinders research work in a welcome break between tough exams held on the Tuesday and Thursday.

This was the first time an Australian city had hosted the world-renowned physics competition, seeing a total of 170 finalists descend on Adelaide, representing 20 countries.

Rosemary Zielinski

Australian finalists included Rosemary Zielinski from Canberra, who joined the Flinders tour. Ms Zielinski has a particular passion for astronomy and was looking forward to gaining personal and educational insights from the competition, including a better understanding of physics and learning how others approach problem solving.

Hoping to study at her local ANU next year, in a quick chat to FiT she said she looked at a range of factors when prioritising universities, including facilities, quality of academics, community outreach and the research coming out of the university.

Noting the dominance of men among her competitors, she commented that support for women entering STEM areas is “always a good thing” (such as that provided by the Flinders STEM Women Branching Out Group.)

Together with exams, the event involved many networking events and excursions in and around Adelaide from 5 to 13 May, including a visit to Cleland Wildlife Park on the morning of the Flinders stopover.

The competition is supported by the Australian government and presents unique opportunities for emerging young scientists to establish international friendships and broaden their perspectives on physics and career options.


Flinders University sponsored the Best Performance by an Australian Olympiad Team Member Award. The award was presented by Professor Jamie Quinton, who was a member of the academic committee for the Olympiad, and with Flinders’ Tony Scoble, co-designed the event’s challenging experimental challenge.

Rosemary Zielinski took home an Honourable Mention and Most Deserving Female Award.

Professor Quinton presenting the Best Performance award to Stephen Catsamas
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