Inspiring Women in MSE

Dr Judy Hart, Functional Materials Specialist

Judy became interested in materials science and engineering in high school because she loved the combination of fundamental physics and chemistry, alongside the focus on practical applications. She is fascinated by the links between the properties of materials and atomic structure.

Judy is now a Senior Lecturer in Materials Science and Engineering at UNSW. Her research aims to develop new materials that will allow more efficient use of renewable energy sources, particularly solar energy. She does this using both computational and experimental methods – with increasing computing power available now, enormous insight into the behaviour of materials at the atomic-scale can be gained through computational modelling. She enjoys developing fundamental scientific understanding of how the properties of semiconducting materials can be controlled, while also working on addressing the major global challenge of reducing carbon emissions through increased use of renewable energy. Having grown up as a science geek with the dream to one day be a scientist, she loves that she now gets to “do science” every day. She thinks that one of the best things about her job is that she is always learning something new.

Judy is also a passionate teacher and enjoys the challenge of helping students to understand new concepts. In 2016, she received the Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Contributions to Student Learning.


Dr Sophie Primig, Physical Metallurgist

Sophie Primig chose materials science and engineering in Austria where she grew up because it is so much broader than just physics, chemistry or maths, her favourite high school subjects. Sophie now is a physical metallurgist at UNSW Sydney, and she is interested in structure-property-processing relationships of metals and alloys. She designs novel ways of processing these metallic materials in order to achieve superior mechanical properties for modern high performance applications. This could be a turbine disc in a modern passenger aircraft engine, an automobile panel or even the superstructure of a high-rise building. Metallurgy is the oldest branch of materials science, but Sophie is excited about being a female metallurgist in the 21st century. Rather than in a hammer forge, you will find her at a microscope trying to figure out what happens inside of metallic materials during industrial processing, and how this can be connected to their performance under mechanical loads. With so many novel microscopy techniques available today, she can reveal the inner structure of metallic materials over several length scales, from the entire aircraft turbine disc processed by her industrial partners down to its individual atoms. This is the modern renaissance of physical metallurgy, enabling us to build modern metallic materials literally from their individual building blocks, making them better than ever before.


Sophie is also a strong believer in one-on-one mentoring and is a self-confessed coffee addict. Feel free to send her a friendly email if you are a current or prospective female UNSW Science or Engineering student and she may share her story with you, over a caffeinated beverage.