SAO Instructors

Semester 2, 2014

SAO has a variety of instructors from both the Centre for Astrophysics & Supercomputing and from various institutions and observatories around the world. Not all instructors teach each semester.

To read about some of our instructors and their "astronomical inspiration" click here

Note: This is a preliminary allocation and may change prior to semester start.
  • AST80005 (formerly HET602) Exploring the Solar System: Kurt Liffman

    Dr Kurt Liffman has a B.Sc.(Hons) in Mathematics from the University of Melbourne and PhD in astrophysics from the Department of Physics and Astronomy, Rice University (Houston, TX). Kurt has worked on problems related to the formation of the Solar System at NASA's Johnson Space Center (Houston, TX) and AMES Research Center (Mountain View, CA). Kurt currently works full time at the CSIRO, where he is affiliated with the astrophysics group at the Australia Telescope National Facility , and part time with SAO. He is also a visiting scientist at the Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology.

    Around two decades ago, Kurt and Michael J. I Brown published a theory suggesting that the some major components found in meteorites (and, possibly, the planets) were formed or reprocessed close to the early Sun and distributed through-out the early Solar System by bipolar jet flows that were produced close to the early Sun in the first few million years of the Solar System. This theory has obtained some preliminary observational confirmation with observations from the Spitzer Space Telescope that show exactly this process occurring in the protostellar systems Ex Lup and HOPS 68. In addition, the Stardust mission found chondrules and CAIs in the Comet Wild 2, which is suggestive of significant radial transport from near the Sun to the outer parts of the Solar System as CAIs form at temperatures close to 1800 K, while Wild 2 probably formed at temperatures around 50K . Kurt is currently working with Prof. Sarah Maddison (Swinburne) and the Swinburne planetary science/astrophysics group on projects to better understand how the Solar System was formed.

  • AST80004 (formerly HET603) Exploring Stars and the Milky Way: Giovanna Pugliese

    Dr Giovanna Pugliese received her Ph.D. in astrophysics from the University of Bonn, working on high energy neutrinos and theoretical modelling of GRBs at the Max Planck Institute for Radioastronomy. She received her Master in Physics from La Sapienza University in Rome, working on high energy cosmic rays and neutrinos, and her Master in Astronomy from the University of Bologna, working on astroparticle physics. Her fields of research range from the modelling and photometric study of GRBs and their link to UHE cosmic rays and neutrinos, to Adaptive Optics photometry of Galactic globular clusters, to the spectroscopic study of extragalactic GCs and stellar populations. After working as a postdoc at several universities both in California and in Europe (UCSC, ESO, and Utrecht university), she is now a researcher at the Department of Astrophysics of the Radboud University in Nijmegen (The Netherlands). During the last 10 years, she has also been involved in astronomy outreach and activities to bring her knowledge into schools.

  • AST80008 (formerly HET607) History of Astronomy: Katrina Sealey
  • Dr Katrina Sealey studied astrophysics at UNSW receiving her PhD in 1997. Katrina's major focus was in observational cosmology and she has spent considerable time observing on optical telescopes all over the world including Australia, Chile and La Palma, undertaking her southern sky quasar survey. During these years Katrina gained specialist astronomical IT skills resulting in her recent appointment as the Australian Astronomical Observatory's IT Manager. Katrina shares her time between the AAO offices in North Ryde and the Anglo-Australian Telescope at Siding Spring Observatory near Coonabarabran. Over the last 20 years Katrina has also worked as an astronomy educator at Sydney Observatory and has taught many general and undergraduate astronomy courses, and for the past 10 years, Katrina has taught the SAO Short Course. Katrina has a keen personal interest in the History of Astronomy and is about to begin her own research into some historically significant astronomical sights in Australia and around the world. Katrina is eagerly looking forward to teaching this unit.

  • AST80017 (formerly HET610) Studies in Space Exploration: Andrew McGrath
  • Dr Andrew McGrath is a senior research fellow in Airborne Research Australia, a research institute forming part of the School of the Environment at Flinders University in South Australia. He has worked in defence contracting (passive microwave sensing), the UK Met Office (remote sensing group, working with air- and spaceborne microwave sensing instruments and working in such exotic locations as Ascension Island and the North Pole), and the Anglo-Australian Observatory (developing optical/NIR instrumentation for large astronomical telescopes around the world). Andrew has Batchelors degrees in Applied Mathematics and Electrical/Electronic Engineering from the University of Adelaide, and a PhD in remote sensing instrumentation from the Flinders University of South Australia (1998).
    In his current role since 2009, he works with all phases of remote sensing data collection and processing, including operating the instrumentation and piloting Flinders' research aircraft on scientific missions across Australia. He spends much of his time processing and calibrating hyperspectral and lidar data collected from these aircraft.

  • AST80013 (formerly HET615) Major Project - Observational Astronomy: Mel Hulbert
  • Melissa Hulbert completed a BSc. (Hons) in Physics at the University of Western Sydney, during which she worked as a night guide/lecturer at Sydney Observatory (part of the Powerhouse Museum) where she now works full-time as an Astronomy Educator. In between, she contributed a column to Lab News Magazine and then later spent some time as Assistant Editor on both Lab News and Today's Life Sciences Magazines. She is a member of the Australia Science Communicators and in 2000 she was part of the 'Science in the Pub' team that won an Australian Eureka Award for Science Promotion. Melissa also teaches astronomy courses at WEA and the St George and Sutherland Community College. She has been an active member of Sutherland Astronomical Society for over 15 years with her main interest in astro-imaging. Five years ago she initiated the formation of the Astro-Imaging group which she still coordinates. Melissa's main interests have always been comets and eclipses, but if it's up there and not beyond the range of the equipment she's using then she's happy to snap its portrait. In the last few years Melissa has been learning to read and translate Egyptian hieroglyphs and has been able to combine this with her interest in archeoastronomy. When time allows, Melissa likes nothing better than spending time imaging the wonders of a clear, dark night sky with a few friends.

  • AST80011 (formerly HET617) Major Project: Computational Astrophysics : Jarrod Hurley
  • A/Prof Jarrod Hurley has a B.Sc.(Hons) in Applied Mathematics from Monash University and obtained a Ph.D. from the Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge in 2000. He has worked at the American Museum of Natural History in New York and is now a lecturer at the Centre for Astrophysics & Supercomputing, Swinburne University of Technology.
    Jarrod works mostly in the area of computational astrophysics, focussing on the evolution of stars, binaries and star clusters. Specifically he is interested in the link between these areas and performs N-body simulations on special-purpose GRAPE computers, GPUs and supercomputers. These simulations show how star clusters evolve and look at the exotic stars and binaries that can be produced along the way. Jarrod has also looked at the consequences for planetary evolution in the dense environment of a star cluster. He is also involved in Hubble Space Telescope and Gemini observing programs.

  • AST80001 (formerly HET618) Astrobiology and the Origins of Life : Terry Bridges and Mike Beasley
  • Dr Terry Bridges received his Ph.D. in astrophysics at Queen's University, Kingston, in 1992 and spent the next dozen years or so working as a research astronomer at observatories around the world (Observatoire Midi-Pyrenees in Toulouse, France; Royal Greenwich Observatory in Cambridge, which sadly closed in 1998; and the Anglo-Australian Observatory Sydney, Australia). During this time, he got to observe at lots of nice places, including Hawaii, Australia, Chile, and La Palma.

    Terry returned to Canada with his family in late 2003. Since then he has taught undergraduate physics and astronomy courses at Queen's University, obtained a B.Ed., and was coordinator for the Queen's observatory. In 2008 Terry returned to Australia, spending 6 months at the AAO working in the Australian Gemini Office. Terry's astronomical research interests are centered around stellar populations in nearby galaxies, in particular using globular clusters to study the formation, evolution, and dark matter content of elliptical galaxies. Terry is very involved in astronomical outreach activities, both locally in Kingston, and through Astronomers Without Borders. He will be finishing a Ph.D. in science education at Queen's University this year; his dissertation research involved working with middle school teachers on designing and teaching science lessons. Terry has also enjoyed teaching science & technology to Queen's teacher candidates while doing his Ph.D.

    Dr Mike Beasley received his Ph.D. in astrophysics at Durham University, UK, in 2001. He has worked at Swinburne University and the UCO/Lick Observatory at Santa Cruz, and currently works at the Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias in Tenerife, Spain. He has previously worked on various theoretical and observational aspects of globular cluster systems and their connection to galaxy formation. Recently his research has been focussing on stellar populations and disk formation in nearby galaxies including M33 (Triangulum galaxy). Mike's non-professional interests include hiking, SCUBA, wildlife conservation and he is also working on a part-time biochemistry degree.

  • AST80014 (formerly HET619) Major Project - Astronomy & Astrophysics: Virginia Kilborn
  • Dr Virginia Kilborn studied astronomy at Melbourne University, obtaining her PhD in radio astronomy in 2001. During her PhD, Virginia spent many days observing at the Parkes radiotelescope, and the Australia Telescope Compact Array in Narrabri. In late 2000, Virginia travelled as a postdoc to the UK to work at the England's largest radio telescope at Jodrell Bank Observatory. Whilst in England, Virginia helped to lead the first large-scale northern sky survey for neutral hydrogen in galaxies - the HIJASS survey. She also enjoyed living in the Cheshire countryside... and experiencing a white Christmas! In 2003, Virginia returned to Australia to Swinburne University, where she has since been working on the evolution of galaxies.

  • AST80006 (formerly HET624) Galaxies and their Place in the Universe: Alan Duffy

    Dr Alan Duffy is Research Fellow at Swinburne, running model universes on supercomputers to better understand the First Galaxies, and how they managed to ionise the universe around a billion years after the Big Bang (in a time known as the Epoch of Reionisation). He gained a MPhys from the University of Manchester and a PhD from the University at the Jodrell Bank Observatory, a distinguished radio facility, for his "Investigation of large scale structure in the Universe". During his PhD he was fortunate to spend time at the Sterrewacht in Leiden University, the Netherlands home of the world's oldest operating observatory, through an Erasmus European Exchange Programme award.

    He has a wide range of scientific interests from investigating the nature of Dark Matter (holding galaxies together) and Dark Energy (driving galaxies apart), to how stars and planets form. A key effort is ensuring that telescopes (esp. radio) can maximise the scientific returns when constraining cosmological parameters. His work uses billion particles simulations which he has used in his own planetarium show, Dark. An avid communicator, Dr Duffy explains science in the pub with Pint in the Sky, a youtube series, a regular space round up on ABC News 24, and has toured Australia with the BBC supported Science of Doctor Who stage show. Alan regularly chats about breaking science issues on twitter at @astroduff.