More dates

Surprising science: borrowed ideas leading to unimagined consequences - The visibility and invisibility of light

This event has passed Get tickets

Event description

Surprising Science: What do butterflies and invisibility cloaks have in common? 

Light: not only does it underpin life on Earth, it also allows us to see, and for plants and animals to send a multitude of signals to friend and foe. 

But could we also use light to hide?  

Join Professors Devi Stuart-Fox (The University of Melbourne) and Dragomir Neshev (The Australian National University) as they discuss the many ways light can be manipulated—from colour changing chameleons and the evolution of animal visual signals, to the difficulty of making an invisibility cloak outside the Harry Potter universe.  

They’ll also discuss how the varied ways colour is produced and detected in the animal world are inspiring human inventions, such as metal printing techniques that stem from butterfly wings. 

You’ll be surprised, you’ll be entertained, and you’ll definitely be enlightened.  


Professor Devi Stuart-Fox, The University of Melbourne 

Devi Stuart-Fox is a Professor the School of Biosciences at the University of Melbourne and co-Chair of The University of Melbourne Hallmark Research Initiative in Bioinspiration. Stuart-Fox studies the biology of light and colour—from optical properties at the nanometre scale to global patterns of colour diversity. She is a strong advocate for interdisciplinary research that draws on solutions from nature to meet the challenges of a sustainable future. Professor Stuart-Fox obtained her PhD at the University of Queensland, Australia in 2003 before spending four years at the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa pursuing postdoctoral research on colour change in chameleons. She won the L’Oreal-UNESCO ‘In the footsteps of Marie Curie’ Special Fellowship for 2013 and Woodward Medal in Science and Technology 2017. Currently she is an Australian Research Council Future Fellow. 

Professor Dragomir Neshev, The Australian National University @DNeshev

Dragomir Neshev is a Professor in Physics at the Australian National University (ANU) and the director of the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Transformative Meta-Optical Systems. He received the PhD degree from Sofia University, Bulgaria in 1999. Since then, he has worked in the field of optics at several research centres around the world and joined ANU in 2002. He is the recipient of a number of awards, including: a Queen Elizabeth II Fellowship (ARC, 2010); an Australian Research Fellowship (ARC, 2004); a Marie-Curie Individual Fellowship (European Commission, 2001); and the Academic award for the best young scientist (Sofia University, 1999). His activities span over several branches of optics, including periodic photonic structures, singular optics, plasmonics, and optical metasurfaces. 

Tickets available to attend in person at the iconic Shine Dome ($15), or to watch online (free). 

Refreshments at 5.30pm AEDT, with the talks 6.00pm - 7.00pm AEDT. 

This series is convened by Professor Mahananda Dasgupta FAA (Australian National University) and Professor Drew Evans (University of South Australia). 

Please note: all guests attending events at the Shine Dome are required to be vaccinated or hold a valid exemption. Proof of vaccination may be requested upon entry to the building.

Powered by

The humane choice for tickets Humanitix donates 100% of profits from booking fees to children’s charities

Refund policy

No refunds