IGOR Bray is at the forefront of research into both pioneering cancer treatments and nuclear fusion – the creation of large-scale, carbon-free energy from seawater.
When not working on the solutions to some of humanity’s most pressing problems, Professor Bray also acts as the head of Curtin University’s Physics and Astronomy department.
It is fair to say his time is in high demand.
But there is nowhere the Winthrop resident would rather spend it than in the classroom, helping to cultivate the next generation of Australia’s brightest scientific minds.
“Teaching is the most important thing I do,” Professor Bray said.
“As the head of department, I set the culture and I view teaching as being on a par in terms of importance with raising our own children.
“When I visit schools or teach at Curtin, the enthusiasm in the bright eyes of the students is so energising and delightful, I love it.”
That dual dedication to both his craft and the promotion of its learning has resulted in Professor Bray’s inclusion as one of only 21 scientists elected to the Australian Academy of Science in 2017.
His son Alex, a promising scientist completing a PhD at the Australian National University, was on hand in Canberra to witness the ceremony last week.
“I really like the culture of science because it unifies people rather than dividing them,” Professor Bray said.
“It doesn’t care about a participant’s ethnicity, nationality or gender.
“What it does care about is what the person can contribute to the benefit of all.”
As well as teaching, Professor Bray is a leader in the field of atomic and molecular collision physics and, with his team, is currently playing a key role in ITER, a $30 billion global research project that is attempting to create energy from hydrogen through nuclear fusion.
His team is also helping to improve imaging of cancers, which is necessary for a new targeted treatment known as proton therapy.