Monica Oliphant

Monica Oliphant

Monica Oliphant grew up in South Australia and fostered her love for science throughout her education in Adelaide. She obtained a scholarship to study at Adelaide University, graduating as the only woman in her year with an Honours Degree in Physics. It was also here that she met and later married Michael Oliphant. Her career started as a laser physicist, working at what is now the Defence Science and Technology Group, helping to build the first lasers in Australia.

After heading to England to work and completing her master’s degree in physics from the University of London, Monica and her family returned to Australia. She began working as a research scientist at Flinders University in the 1970s, and then worked 18 years as an energy research scientist for the Electricity Trust of South Australia. It was here her research led to grid connected solar power systems and wind energy in South Australia.

Monica’s interest in renewable energy was sparked after she heard virologist Nobel Prize winner Sir Macfarlane Burnett on the radio say, “if we had solar energy, we wouldn’t have to fight over oil”. Her career was driven by the belief that sustainable energy should be available to everyone and has been a long-time member of the Australian Solar Energy Society and President of the International Solar Energy Society.

Since 2000, Monica has been an independent consultant specialising in residential energy efficiency and renewable energy and was part of the Australian Government’s first Mandatory Renewable Energy Target, which was helped make small scale renewable energy more affordable.

Monica has won numerous awards including the Ecogen 2011 Award from the Most Outstanding Contribution to the Clean Energy Industry and the World Renewable Energy Network Pioneer Award 2012. In 2015, she was given an Office of the Order of Australian for distinguished service to the renewable energy sector and in 2016 was awarded Senior South Australian of the Year for her lifelong commitment to improving people’s access to environmentally and economically sustainable energy.

It is a privilege to have Monica as our Patron, delivering the Oliphant Science Awards in honour of her father-in-law Sir Mark Oliphant.