I’m an observational astrophysicist studying various aspects of cosmology, the Universe’s properties and evolution on the largest possible scales. I specialise in the spectra of quasars, particularly the absorption lines imprinted on them by very distant galaxies between the quasars and Earth. A surprisingly large amount can be learnt about our Universe with this technique. For example, one novel application is to measure the fundamental constants of nature in the distant, early Universe, a field I’ve made significant contributions to.
We can also learn about how galaxies form and evolve, and how the gas around galaxies – the circumgalactic medium and intergalactic medium – ‘feeds’ galaxies throughout most of the Universe’s 14 billion year history. Finally, I’m also interested in ultra-precise astronomical spectroscopy. For example, I devised and helped develop “astrocombs” – laser frequency combs which act like ‘colour rulers’ to help us measure tiny effects in astronomical spectra.
I completed a BSc in Physics with Honours in 1999 and a PhD in Astrophysics from the University of New South Wales in 2003. My PhD supervisor was John Webb. From 2003 to 2005 I was a Research Fellow at the Institute of Astronomy at the University of Cambridge (UK) and I took up a PPARC Advanced Fellowship (now called an STFC Ernest Rutherford Fellowship) there from 2005 to mid-2007. I then moved to Melbourne to take up a lectureship at Swinburne and held a Australian Research Council QEII Fellowship there from 2008 to 2012.