The 2015 JH Michell Medal


The John Henry Michell Medal, or simply the J.H. Michell Medal, is awarded annually by ANZIAM to at most one outstanding new researcher who has carried out distinguished research in applied and/or industrial mathematics within Australia and New Zealand.

After careful consideration, the committee is unanimous in recommending that the 2015 J.H. Michell Medal be awarded to Dr Barry Cox from the University of Adelaide.

Barry obtained a Bachelor of Mathematics from the University of Wollongong in 1989, and then worked as a programmer for Illawarra Electricity and later for the NRMA. He commenced his PhD studies at the University of Wollongong in 2005, at which time he was in full-time employment as a programmer for BHP IT and Computer Sciences Corporation. He successfully completed his PhD in 2007 and initially worked as a Research Fellow in the Nanomechanics Group and then as a lecturer in the School of Mathematics and Applied Statistics at the University of Wollongong. In 2009 he received the prestigious ARC Australian Postdoctoral Fellowship for 4 years. Since 2010, Barry has been a Senior Lecturer in the School of Mathematical Sciences at the University of Adelaide.

Barry has made and continues to make “ground breaking” contributions to the area of nanotechnology, starting with his PhD which examined nano-scaled structures, devices and materials. Barry has published almost 70 journal articles, with a significant number appearing in prestigious and high impact journals such as the Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series A, Journal of Mathematical Chemistry, Quarterly Journal of Mechanics and Applied Mathematics and Carbon. Furthermore, Barry is the first author on the vast majority of his publications, which is a reflection of the importance of his contribution to many of the innovative ideas embodied in these papers.

A topic examined in several of Barry’s papers, a new polyhedral model of carbon nanotubes, provides a good example of his research impact and innovation. Barry’s work on the geometry of carbon nanotubes is highly original, and he was the first to propose such a solution in the twenty odd years since the existence of carbon nanotubes was established. His new geometric model of carbon nanotubes properly incorporates the effect of curvature. From the numerical evidence, the model is unquestionably correct; it contains numerous implications relating to the fine structure of carbon nanotubes, and it is all accomplished with elementary geometry. Here we see in action Barry's elegant elucidation and precise identification of a complex structure using only basic mathematics. Barry’s model is far simpler than anything previously proposed, yet it is able to produce carbon nanotube diameter predictions that are as accurate as the best ab initio calculations from quantum chemistry - the latter rely on supercomputers whereas Barry’s predictions can be made using a simple calculator. Barry has now successfully extended his models for carbon nanotubes to other inorganic nanotube materials, which will prove to be very useful for nanotechnologists.

Barry has established strong links with prominent researchers in the field both nationally and internationally, and he has successfully supervised a number of research students to completion.

The committee regards Dr Barry Cox as a worthy recipient of the 2015 J.H. Michell Medal. Congratulations Barry!

Updated: 17 Mar 2015