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What’s behind discovery?

August 17, 2022 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

Popular histories of science often tell a story of progress based around great ideas and great individuals. However, historians and philosophers of science have long pointed to the other factors that are involved – social structures, economic forces and the combined talents of many people.

Join us for this special History and Philosophy of Science Seminar to explore the factors that lie behind scientific discovery, in conversation with historian of quantum mechanics, Kristian Camilleri, and particle physicist Suzie Sheehy, author of “the matter of Everything: Twelve experiments that changed our world”. Kristian has an interest in how personality shapes the progress of science, and Suzie’s book focuses on the material nature of experiments as well as the contribution of often-unsung women in science.

Together they will go behind the common ‘great man’ stories of science to explore the nature of discovery.

The History and Philosophy of Science program at the University of Melbourne is one of the oldest HPS departments in the world. In today’s world, understanding how science works is more important than ever.

This event is also being broadcast online:

https://unimelb.zoom.us/j/88607428680?pwd=WjBEblhVQi9MTTZuRmlQYU9hNU5MZz09 Password: 508772

For more information click here


Dr Suzie Sheehy obtained a first-class honours degree in physics from the University of Melbourne in her native Australia in 2006, before completing a DPhil at the University of Oxford in 2010. During her DPhil she worked on designing a new type of particle accelerator for cancer treatment using protons and light ions, as part of the Particle Accelerator for MEdicaL Applications or ‘PAMELA’ project, under the supervision of Prof. Ken Peach.

She was then awarded the prestigious 2010 Brunel Research Fellowship from the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 and from 2010 to 2013 was based in the ASTeC Intense Beams Group at the STFC Rutherford Appleton Lab in Oxfordshire. Here she worked on designing new and challenging high power proton accelerators for future applications, based on the ‘Fixed Field Alternating Gradient’ accelerator principle.

From November 2013 to March 2015, she was a Senior Accelerator Physicist in the ASTeC Intense Beams Group, developing research collaborations with groups in Japan and focusing on several aspects of fundamental beam physics, novel high intensity hadron accelerators and accelerator characterisation.

Dr Sheehy joined Oxford Physics in April 2015 on a joint appointment with STFC/ASTeC to continue her research on the topic of high-power hadron accelerators and to further contribute to the John Adams Institute training and education programmes. From October 2017, she is a Royal Society University Research Fellow in Oxford Physics. You can learn more about her research and collaborations here.

Alongside her research, Dr Sheehy is passionate about the promotion and communication of science, for which she has received several awards. In 2010 she received the esteemed British Science Association Lord Kelvin Award and the University of Oxford Vice Chancellors Civic Award for her work in presenting science to school and public audiences. Dr Sheehy is regularly invited to present lectures at the Royal Institution, Institute of Physics and other venues. In 2014 and 2015 she co-presented large headline shows at the Big Bang Fair to audiences totaling 12,000 people each year alongside TV presenter and food writer



Dr Kristian Camilleri is a lecturer in the History and Philosophy of Science program in the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies. After studying physics and HPS at Melbourne University, he completed his PhD in HPS at Melbourne University in 2005.

Kristian has published in the history and philosophy of modern physics, and has collaborated with other scholars from around the world on the History and Foundations of Quantum Physics project. In 2009 he published a book entitled ‘Heisenberg and the Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics: The Physicist as Philosopher’ with Cambridge University Press.

His research interests include the interpretations of quantum mechanics, the interplay between culture, philosophy and physics in the first half of the twentieth century, the structure of thought experiments in science and and the changing role of ‘popular science’ in the scientific culture of the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Kristian has taught across a range of subjects in HPS ranging from the history of science, social studies of technology, and the philosophy of science. He has supervised postgraduate students working in a variety of areas including the history of modern physics, philosophy of science and social theory. He currently teaches an introductory history of science first year subject called ‘From Plato to Einstein’, a second year subject ‘Gd and the Natural Sciences’ with Rev Dr Stephen Ames, and the third year HPS capstone subject ‘Knowledge in the Making’.


August 17, 2022
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Event Category:


School of Historical and Philosophical Studies


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