Sir Alan Walsh lecture

The lecture series commemorates the achievements of Sir Alan Walsh.

The Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering (ATSE), CSIRO (including CSIRO Alumni), and the Australian Institute of Physics (AIP) started the prestigious invited lecture series on the 60th anniversary of Atomic Absorption Spectrophotometry (AAS). AAS is a chemical measurement technology invented in 1952 by Sir Alan Walsh at CSIRO in Victoria that revolutionized quantitative analysis.

The work led to the commercial manufacture of AAS in 1962 and to worldwide adoption that is still current today. The method has found important application world-wide in areas as diverse as medicine, agriculture, mineral exploration, metallurgy, food analysis, biochemistry and environmental control, and has been described as ‘the most significant advance in chemical analysis’ in the twentieth century.

The accumulated benefit to Australia by the year 1977 was estimated as in excess of $200 million, including overseas royalties, the setting up of new industry, and the productivity increases in a wide range of enterprises.

Australia’s current $18bn per annum scientific instruments industry was started by this discovery and its translation, specifically to Techtron, Varian, and then Agilent.  The Agilent R&D centre located in Australia employs over 250 scientists and engineers in Mulgrave VIC because of Sir Alan Walsh’s AAS discovery and his personal drive to commercialise the technology through the upskilling of Australian industry.


2012 Inaugural Award Lecture:

19 November 2012

Peter Hannaford (Professor Swinburne University and research colleague of Sir Alan Walsh) “Alan Walsh and the Atomic Absorption Story: Celebrating 60 Years” including a special showing of the film, “A long shot that paid off” made by Nick Alexander and the CSIRO film unit in 1970.


2014 Award Lecture:

20 October 2014

Erol Harvey (CEO MiniFab) “Physics and entrepreneurship”


2016 Award Lecture:

1 September 2016

Peter Bury (Director PACIA/Chemistry Australia) “The Australian chemistry industry, its role in our economy and the future success of advanced manufacturing in Australia through enabling globally competitive products and strong local value chains”


2018 Award Lecture:

15 November 2018

Zoran Manev (Director Boron Molecular) and Oliver Hutt (Group Leader CSIRO) “Value creation through the commercialisation of chemical science”


2020 Award Lecture:

1 October 2020

Mark Hodge (CEO DMTC)  talked about the growth of Australian industry capacity and the inexorable connectivity and integration of industrial innovation in Australia, highlighting delivery of enhanced Defence capabilities, underpinned by excellence in research and innovation.

Read more about the event and watch the recording of the presentations