SAO Instructors

Semester 1/Study Period 1, 2020

SAO has a variety of instructors from 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.

Introductory Units

  • 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.

Advanced Units

  • AST80001 Astrobiology and the Origins of Life : Jon Clarke
  • 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: Terry Bridges
  • Dr. Terry Bridges received his Ph.D. in astrophysics at Queen’s University in 1992, and then worked as a research astronomer at the Observatoire Midi-Pyrenees in Toulouse, the Royal Greenwich Observatory in Cambridge, and the Anglo-Australian Observatory in Sydney and Siding Spring, Australia. In 2004, Terry returned to Queen’s to teach physics and astronomy, and to continue his astronomical research. Around that time, he started teaching at SAO, and he is very happy to be returning. Terry also got a teaching degree and a second Ph.D. in Education at Queen’s, and has taught high school science in Ontario and for a year in Istanbul. In the fall of 2016, Terry took up a continuing position in the Physics and Astronomy Dept at Okanagan College, in the southern interior of BC, Canada, where he teaches first and second year physics and astronomy courses. His research interests center around the use of globular clusters as probes of elliptical galaxies, and more recently he has become involved in research and outreach on Kuiper Belt Objects in the outer solar system (see

  • 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.

  • 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.

Major Project units

  • AST80012 Major Project - History of Astronomy: Katrina Sealey and Peter Verwayen
  • 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.

    Peter Verwayen has degrees and post graduate qualifications in Engineering, Physics and Astronomy, and has undertaken specialist studies in Cryogenics, Optics and Astronomical Instrumentation through ANU, UNSW and NASA. Peter worked for the ANU at Siding Spring Observatory as the Technical Operations Manager for the Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics. He is actively involved in astronomy outreach and has worked at Sydney Observatory as an astronomy guide and educator. Peter has taught astronomy courses over the last 25 years and is currently working at the University of Sydney where he teaches undergraduate physics and manages the Physics Teaching Laboratories. He is also undertaking his PhD in Theoretical Cosmology studying the nature of gravity. Peter has a keen interest in archaeoastronomy and likes nothing more than travelling around Australia, and the world visiting historical astronomical sites.

  • AST80014 Major Project - Astronomy & Astrophysics: Rebecca Allen (Convenor)
facebook twitter