SAO Instructors

Semester 1/Study Period 1, 2016

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: Christopher Fluke
  • Associate Professor Christopher Fluke joined the Swinburne Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing in 1999. His main research interests are in 3D astronomy visualization, computational techniques for gravitational lensing, and the use of graphics processing units (GPUs) to accelerate the rate of astronomical discovery. Currently, he is investigating opportunities for using GPU-computing clusters to solve the visualisation and data analysis challenges of the petascale data era. Chris is very active in public outreach, coordinating the 3D AstroTour school program, and was a co-recipient of the Astronomical Society of Australia’s 2015 David Allen Prize (Swinburne Astronomy Productions).

  • AST80001 Astrobiology and the Origins of Life : Bita Zaferanloo and Jon Clarke
  • Dr Bita Zaferanloo attended the Ferdowsi University for her undergraduate studies in Agriculture Engineering/Plant Breeding and continues her master studies in Bu-Ali Sina University working on her project titled as: Transformation of proteinase inhibitor gene to cotton with the aid of Agrobacterium spp. for producing pest-resistant cotton and achieved a High Distinction average including courses and master project in Plant Biotechnology. She obtained her PhD from the Department of Department of Chemistry and Biotechnology, Faculty of Science, Engineering and Technology at the Swinburne University of Technology in Prof Enzo Palombo laboratory working on natural products and drug discovery in microbial biotechnology field. Following the successful completion of her PhD in 2014, searching on the Endophytes from Australian native plants as novel sources of bioactive compounds for industrial, environmental and medicinal applications, she was appointed as a lecturer in the Department of Chemistry and Biotechnology, Faculty of Science, Engineering and Technology at the Swinburne University of Technology in the same year 2014. Since she joined to Swinburne University of technology in 2014, she started to explore and develop a profound passion and broad aptitude for learning and teaching.

    Dr Jonathan Clarke received his PhD from Flinders University in South Australia in 1988 for a thesis on the Early Cambrian geology of Wilkawillina Gorge in South Australia, an area known for some of the oldest metazoan reefs in Australia. Over the course of his career he has worked in the exploration, government, and university sectors. His work has covered mineral and energy exploration, regolith geosciences, marine geology, geomorphology and palaeontology. Jonathan has worked extensively in the Precambrian terrains of Australia, including the Pilbara, Yilgarn and Gawler Cratons, the Mt Isa region, and the Flinders Ranges. This has led to considerable exposure to the record of early life on Earth. He has contributed to over 100 peer-reviewed papers, the most cited of which include papers on the history of aridity in the Atacama Desert in South America, the significance of biogenic opal in the regolith, the evolution of the palaeodrainages of Western Australia, and inverted relief on Mars. Other papers have included research into Pilbara stromatolites and their significance to martian astrobiology. Jonathan has also edited “Mars analog research” (AAS, 2006), and contributed chapters on extraterrestrial aridity in the third edition of Extraterrestrial arid surface processes (Wiley, 2011), extraterrestrial regolith in the Regolith Textbook (CSIRO 2008) and to “Mars expedition planning” (AAS 2004). He is president of Mars Society Australia, an associate of the Australian Centre for Astrobiology, and has spent three rotations at the Mars Desert Research Station in Utah. When he can, Jonathan enjoys scuba diving, reading, movies, and bushwalking.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

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