Professor Michelle Yvonne Simmons has been crowned Australian of the Year for 2018. Simmons, who is from New South Wales, was nominated for the award because of her groundbreaking work as a professor of quantum physics.
In 2012, Michelle and her team built the world’s first transistor made from a single atom along the world’s thinnest wire. Currently, Michelle is working to create a quantum computer that can solve problems that should take thousands of years in the space of minutes. If successful, the quantum computer would revolutionise weather forecasting, artificial intelligence, drug design and more.
Michelle was up against seven strong contenders, ranging from an Aboriginal fashion designer and a doctor tackling Rheumatic Heart Disease in the Northern Territory, to a craniofacial surgeon and an indigenous mentor.
The 2018 Senior Australian of the Year award went to prize-winning biophysicist Dr Graham Farquhar AO, while the Young Australian of the Year went to athlete Samantha Kerr. The Local Hero award was won by mathematics teacher Eddie Woo.
Australian of the Year is an annual competition which aims to acknowledge and reward local people doing extraordinary things.