Dr Vanessa Peterson

Dr Vanessa Peterson
Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation – ANSTO
Physical and Materials Chemistry

Dr Peterson’s research centres on how materials work at the atomic scale and uses this information to improve important technologies and discover new materials. She utilizes a specialist analysis tool “neutron scattering” to reveal the motions and arrangements of atoms that otherwise cannot be seen. Her work on improving cement has led her to carbon-free energy materials. She currently leads a group researching materials in “energy technologies” like batteries that power laptop computers and phones. One technology (fuel-cells) stores and uses hydrogen to power cars as an alternative to petrol, releasing only water.

Vanessa engages in a diverse range of outreach activities from media coverage to scientific and local community events such as National Science Week activities like “Science Fact or Fiction” and “Snag a scientist”. Through ANSTO’s “Discovery Centre” she has the opportunity to engage with hundreds of children every year. She has written several feature articles on neutron scattering that appear in high school physics textbooks and used her position as finalist for the 2011 Eureka People’s Choice Award to promote my research as well as neutron scattering. As President of the Australian X-ray Analytical Association Vanessa encourages researchers by running youth events such as “student seminar days”, supporting their first steps in research.