Speakers Profile - Dr Niraj Lal

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Dr Niraj "Nij" Lal is a physicist, children's book author and presenter of ABC Sciencey on iView. He graduated as a Gates Scholar with a PhD in physics at the Cavendish Laboratory at the University of Cambridge in 2012, and was named one of the ABC’s Top 5 Scientists Under 40 in 2016 for his research on solar-cell nanophotonics.

Born in Hawaii, Nij has previously worked as a tuna long-line fishing deckhand out of Cairns QLD, a bicycle courier in Perth WA, a cattle farmhand in Dorrigo NSW, a travelling science presenter to primary school kids across regional Western Australia, and as a Lecturer in Renewable Energy at the Australian National University. He was the Australian Academy of Science’s nominee to the 2015 Nobel Laureate Meeting in Lindau, Germany, graduated from the University of Cambridge’s Rising Stars Public Engagement Program in 2012, and presented at the inaugural TEDxSydney Sustainability Salon in 2016. Nij's PhD thesis was shortlisted for the Salje Medal in 2012 - his 17 research publications span the fields of physics, nanoscience and energy with a focus on solar-cell nanophotonics; making solar panels more efficient with tiny structures that interact strangely with light.

In addition to research, Nij has written two children’s books about science, his latest of which (about an emu that learns how to fly by going into gravitational orbit) was recently broadcast on the ABC.

He’s the founder of TheKnews.org – a global wisdom-sharing website, NoiseVsSignal.org – an organisation for digital protest against mass surveillance and was a founding National Council Member of the Australian Wikileaks Party. Nij has played drums, guitar and saxophone with The Lazy Harrys, Arco Iris Cambridge Samba Drumming Band, The Valence Band and Raio de Sol Samba Drumming band – which he founded in 2013.

A guest physicist with Todd Samson’s Life on The Line on ABC TV in 2017 and Dr Karl’s Outrageous Acts of Science on the Discovery Channel, Nij is the current presenter of ABC Sciencey – a new series on ABC iView answering some of the most random questions in science. He regularly gives hands-on explosive public presentations about science, energy, and creativity.