ANU researchers are digging deep to give new opportunities to staff and students at the Heavy Ion Accelerator Facility (HIAF) at the Research School of Physics and Engineering (RSPE).
The HIAF Endowment Fund was first set up in 2012 by RSPE researchers Professor David Hinde, then Head of the Department of Nuclear Physics; Emeritus Professor Keith Fifield, then Director of the HIAF; and Professor Mahananda Dasgupta, an ARC Australian Laureate Fellow.
Initially the donors wanted to offer technical staff at the Department of Nuclear Physics career advancement opportunities that would not otherwise be available.
"As an academic I get a buzz from the results, and the positive feedback I get at conferences, but the technical staff do not get to see that. I felt we needed to give them an opportunity to go to their own conferences and develop themselves," says Dasgupta.
The HIAF is an important piece of research infrastructure at ANU. It supports Australia's only experimental nuclear physics program as well as a broad range of other work, including creating and characterising innovative materials, resource and energy exploration, investigating climate change, and archaeological and heritage studies.
"It is crucial to everything we do because it's the only accelerator in Australia that can do cutting-edge nuclear physics research," Hinde says.
The technical staff who support the HIAF are crucial to its success. Dasgupta is passionate about the role they play in developing the techniques that generate the facility's research.
"We can have an idea but someone has to make it a reality. This is where the technical staff are amazing. They are innovative, creative and passionate. Because of this, we have been able to think of and create the instruments that allow us to make cutting-edge measurements. We created this endowment to recognise their amazing work," says Dasgupta.
The passion of these researchers has inspired other friends of the School to donate to the fund which has led to an expansion of the fund's original remit.
Launched by Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ian Young AO and The Hon Dr Andrew Leigh MP, the fund will now help attract top-ranked students into the field by providing PhD top-up scholarships and international travel support. It will also provide seed funding to kick-start new accelerator-based research initiatives.
Professor Young commended RSPE for its commitment to philanthropy.
"These endowment funds are a demonstration of the belief and effort that the School has put into philanthropy," he said.
"The growing support that the HIAF Endowment Fund has received has been inspiring and I would like to congratulate both RSPE and the three founding donors for creating a strong culture of giving among the staff, alumni and friends of the School."