Time: November 4, 4pm
Although not generally considered a place to undertake fundamental academic research, there are rich and interesting opportunities for a physicist working at DSTO. In this talk, Ralph Gailis, current Head of the Modelling, Analysis and Physical Sciences (MAPS) group in the Human Protection and Performance Division (HPPD) of DSTO gives a tour of 12 years of diverse applications and experiences. Primarily working in the general area of chemical, biological and radiological (CBR) defence, with a background in general relativity, cosmology and statistical mechanics, I began a fledgling effort in the atmospheric dispersion modelling of hazardous materials, which received considerable focus in security preparations for the Sydney Olympics. Likewise, the work area where I found myself situated grew and evolved considerably over the past decade in response to the heightened threat of terrorism. I will give a flavour of some of the research efforts, which ventured considerably from the comfort zone of a theoretical physicist, involving numerous wind tunnel and water channel experiments, applications in data fusion and inverse modelling, and the evolution to general techniques of systems and operations analysis. Finally, physicists are now tackling with great vigour the revolution in the bio-sciences, applying their mathematical and analysis skills to very complex problems, including mitigating the threat of bio-terrorism. Here I will share my experiences in epidemic modelling and syndromic surveillance. Throughout I will highlight the core physical modelling paradigms that have found application in such a diverse array of fields.