SAO Instructors

Semester 1, 2015

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 Exploring the Solar System: Sarah Maddison and Terry Bridges
  • Prof Sarah Maddison is a professor of astrophysics at the Centre for Astrophysics & Supercomputing, Swinburne University of Technology. Sarah has a BSc(Hons) in applied mathematics and a PhD in computational astrophysics, both from the Mathematics Department at Monash University. Her main areas of interest are star and planet formation, particularly the formation, evolution and dynamics of protoplanetary disks. She spends a lot of her time trying to understand how tiny grains grow to become planets and the observational signatures of (proto)planets in disks. She also studies planetary dynamics. Sarah has worked at New Mexico State University in the USA and at the Observatoire de Grenoble in France. At Swinburne Sarah is part of the Stars & Planets Group and her team work on a range of planet formation problems, using both numerical codes and large telescopes to study dust in planet-forming disks. For ten years Sarah was the SAO coordinator and in 2012 led the team to win a prestigious Citation Award from the Commonwealth Government and the 2012 Swinburne Vice-Chancellor's Teaching Award. Sarah is also involved in a range of outreach activities including AstroTour and Scientists in Schools. Sarah is the Chair of the Department of Physics & Astronomy, as well as the acting Dean of the School of Science.

    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.

  • AST80004 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.

  • AST80002 Astrophotography & CCD Imaging: 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 through Sydney Observatory and for the past 15 years at the St George and Sutherland Community College. She has been an active member of Sutherland Astronomical Society for over 20 years with her main interest in astro-imaging. Ten years ago she initiated the formation of the astro-imaging group which she has just stepped down from coordinating. She is also a member of the Astronomical Society of NSW. 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.

  • AST80012 Major Project - 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.

  • AST80014 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.

  • AST80015 Planetary Science: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 also worked at the CSIRO, where he was affiliated with the astrophysics group at the Australia Telescope National Facility . He currently works at Swinburne as a research scientist and sessional lecturer at SAO. Kurt 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 or accretional 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. Kurt is currently working with Prof. Sarah Maddison (Swinburne) and the Swinburne planetary science/astrophysics group on projects to better understand how Stellar Systems are formed.

  • AST80006 Galaxies and their Place in the Universe: Duncan Forbes and Glenn Kacprzak
  • Prof Duncan Forbes has been a faculty member in the Swinburne Centre for Astrophysics & Supercomputing since August 2000. A New Zealander, who did his PhD at Cambridge, Duncan has also spent time at the Space Telescope Science Institute, Lick Observatory in California and most recently as a Senior Lecturer at the University of Birmingham in England. Over the years, he has worked on various aspects of galaxy evolution with a recent fondness for globular clusters in external galaxies.

    Dr Glenn Kacprzak received a B.Sc.(Hons) in Astrophysics from Queen's University, Kingston, Canada in 2001, a M.Sc. in Astronomy from Saint Mary's University, Halifax, Canada in 2005 and a Ph.D. in Astronomy from New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, USA in 2008. He is currently an Australian Research council Future Fellow at Swinburne University where he specializes in galaxy evolution and the circumgalactic medium.

  • AST80003 Cosmology and the Large-scale Structure of the Universe: Michael Murphy
  • Prof Michael Murphy received a B.Sc.(Hons) in 1999 and a Ph.D. in Astrophysics from the University of New South Wales in 2003. He then worked as Research Fellow at the Institute of Astronomy at the University of Cambridge (UK) from 2003 to mid-2007 before taking up a lectureship at the Centre for Astrophysics & Supercomputing, Swinburne University of Technology.

    Michael's research involves using quasars as background light sources to study the gas in and around galaxies, as well as the intergalactic medium, along the quasar line of sight from Earth. The 'circumgalactic' and intergalactic gas imprint characteristic absorption lines onto the quasar's spectrum; studies of these absorption lines therefore enables the extraction of detailed information about how galaxies accrete gas to form new stars and expel gas as massive stars explode. The absorption lines also carry information about fundamental physics in the distant galaxies. For example, Michael's research has focused on determining whether some of the so-called "fundamental constants of nature" are indeed constant or whether they vary over the huge cosmological time- and distance-scales between the galaxies and Earth. Michael typically gathers his quasar spectra using the world's largest optical telescopes, particularly the Keck and Subaru Telescopes in Hawaii and the Very Large Telescopes in Chile.

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