Distinguished Professor Susan Scott

Professor Susan Scott

Susan Scott is Distinguished Professor of Theoretical Physics in the Centre for Gravitational Astrophysics at The Australian National University (ANU). She is an internationally recognised mathematical physicist, who has made fundamental advances in our understanding of the fabric of space-time in general relativity, and in gravitational wave science. Her groundbreaking discoveries probe the existence and nature of singularities and the global structure of space-time, and possible initial and final end states for cosmological models representing our Universe. She has also been a pioneer in the analysis of astrophysical signatures in gravitational wave experiments, including the searches for gravitational waves from asymmetric neutron stars and from inspiralling binary systems of black holes and neutron stars.

Distinguished Professor Scott grew up in Melbourne. For her secondary education, she attended the Methodist Ladies’ College in Kew, becoming Dux of the College in Mathematics and Science in her final year. She completed a Bachelor of Science degree at Monash University, majoring in Mathematics and Physics, and an Honours year in Pure Mathematics, obtaining First Class Honours. She then moved to Adelaide to undertake a PhD in Mathematical Physics at The University of Adelaide. Based on her doctoral research accomplishments, she was awarded a Rhodes Fellowship to The University of Oxford, where she worked with Professor Sir Roger Penrose and his research group for four years. She then returned to Australia, to The ANU, and held a 5-year Australian Research Council (ARC) Australian Research Fellowship before taking up a tenured lectureship in the Department of Physics.

Distinguished Professor Scott is a member of the international team which achieved the first direct detection of gravitational waves on Earth in 2015. She has played a leading role in the development of the field of gravitational wave science in Australia. She is a Chief Investigator with the ARC Centre of Excellence for Gravitational Wave Discovery (OzGrav). In 2022 she was appointed Editor-in-Chief of the Institute of Physics journal Classical and Quantum Gravity. She is passionate about science and science education, and as a woman and the proud mum of two daughters, cares deeply about the participation of women in science and policy making which will determine the future health of our planet.

Distinguished Professor Scott is a Fellow of the European Academy of Sciences, the Australian Academy of Science, the International Society on General Relativity and Gravitation, and the American Physical Society. She has been awarded a number of international prizes, including the 2016 Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics and 2016 Gruber Prize for Cosmology, as part of the LIGO team, and the 2020 Dirac Medal for Theoretical Physics. In 2020 she was also awarded the Prime Minister’s Prize for Science.