Steve Wilkins, a stalwart of the Australian Synchrotron and a long-standing CSIRO employee, passed away in Melbourne on 25 March 2013.

Steve was greatly respected and admired in the synchrotron and broader scientific community and will be much missed. He was the definitive quiet achiever, extremely likeable with a gentle sense of humour that always put people at their ease. His creativity and passion have become part of the DNA of the Australian Synchrotron user community.

In the early 1980s, as one of the first enthusiastic proponents of synchrotron radiation in Australia, Steve Wilkins demonstrated to many of us how important this new tool would be to all the scientific disciplines. He was influential on several beamlines now operating at the AS, and provided much of the early momentum on the imaging and medical beamline. The technique of phase contrast imaging that plays a significant part in the imaging and medical beamline owes much to pioneering work done by Steve and his collaborators. Another development widely considered a brainchild of Steve’s was the ‘Big Diff’, an iconic piece of equipment (a revolutionary image plate vacuum diffractometer) now being transported back to Australia from the visionary Australian National Beamline Facility (ANBF) in Japan.

Steve’s genius for developing new scientific techniques was only surpassed by his patience and persistence in bringing them into being. The Australian National Beamline Facility (only recently decommissioned after 20 years of service), the Australian Synchrotron Research Program and all staff of the Australian Synchrotron owe Steve a massive debt of gratitude.

He will be sorely missed as a tireless worker for Australian science, a mentor and a friend.

On behalf of staff at the Australian Synchrotron, Interim Director Andrew Peele has offered condolences to Steve Wilkins' family and is passing on the messages of sympathy that are already flowing from the worldwide synchrotron community.

The AS will collate personal tributes should people wish to provide them, and will coordinate with Steve’s family how best to display these. If you wish to offer a tribute, please send an email to

Update on fundraiser for 6th November:
As well as the gofundme account there is another account open for direct donations. Transfers have been made between the two, so at the moment the total raised so far is $8,725



Steve Wilkins' presentation from February 2013

One of Steve’s last invited talks was as a keynote speaker at the meeting 'Taking X-ray phase contrast imaging into mainstream applications', held at The Royal Society in London on 11 and 12 February 2013, organised by Dr Alessandro Olivo and Prof Ian Robinson. Click on the following link to see details of this meeting and Steve’s presentation, or to download an audio recording of Steve’s talk.

Other tribute web pages

CSIRO Alumni -
The Age newspaper’s guest-book -
Obituary by Jose Varghese in Acta Cryst. A -

Australian Synchrotron Stephen Wilkins Medal

In July 2013, the Australian Synchrotron Thesis Medal was renamed The Australian Synchrotron Stephen Wilkins Medal, in honour of Steve Wilkins.