SAO Instructors

Semester 2/Study Period 3, 2018

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.
  • AST80004 Exploring Stars and the Milky Way: Glenn Kacprzak and Katrina Sealey
  • 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.

    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.

  • AST80005 Exploring the Solar System: 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 researcher at several universities both in California and in Europe (UCSC, ESO, Utrecht university, Radboud university in Nijmegen), she is now a researcher at API, the astronomy department at UvA, the university of Amsterdam. At API she works in the GRBs group that study the environment / galaxies in which high redshift GRBs occur. During the last 10 years, she has also been involved in astronomy outreach and activities to bring her knowledge into schools.

  • AST80006 Galaxies and their Place in the Universe: Duncan Forbes
  • 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 fondnes for globular clusters in\external galaxies.

  • AST80011 Major Project: Computational Astrophysics : Adam Deller
  • Dr Adam Deller studied electronic engineering at Swinburne University as an undergraduate before receiving a PhD in astrophysics from Swinburne in 2009. Since then, he has been awarded postdoctoral fellowships at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory ( and the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy before taking up a staff astronomer position at ASTRON and then returning Swinburne as a staff member.

    His research focuses on the physics of compact objects (neutron stars and black holes) primarily by way of observations with radio telescopes. A current focus is uncovering the origin of Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs), which are enormously powerful millisecond-duration radio flashes that appear to be generated outside our own Galaxy. Closer to home, he also studies neutron stars within the Milky Way galaxy, both in the form of radio pulsars, and X-ray binaries (where the neutron star is accreting gas from a companion object). His specialty is performing astrometry on these systems, using radio telescopes spread across continents to make carefully calibrated images with extremely high angular resolution. This links with his interest in radio astronomy instrumentation: he has developed the "DiFX" distributed correlator that is used by a number of operational radio interferometers, and is involved with a number of working groups contributing to the design of the forthcoming Square Kilometre Array (SKA).

  • AST80013 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 Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences) where she now works full-time as an Astronomy Programs Coordinator. 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. She initiated the formation of the Astro-Imaging group which she coordinated for ten years before stepping down at the end of 2014. 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. 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.

  • AST80016 Stellar Astrophysics: 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.

  • AST80017 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.

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