a picture of me


I am a Senior Lecturer in Physics at the School of Natural Sciences, University of Tasmania.

My main research interests are concerned with active black holes. If you prefer videos to text, have a look at a basic introduction to my research (and biography!) here. Otherwise, read on.

On the astronomy side, I am primarily interested in the formation and evolution of galaxies, and relativistic jets associated with supermassive black holes. A major focus of my research is the interaction between galaxies and these active black holes (or Active Galactic Nuclei, abbreviated to AGN), which are visible with radio telescopes. I study both how AGN jets regulate the star formation history and gas content of the Universe, and also the reverse: how the processes that shape galaxies affect black hole activity. My broader research interests include feedback processes outside the astrophysical context.

In geodesy, Active Galactic Nuclei essentially serve as beacons that can be used to measure positions on Earth. This means that I spend a fair bit of my time looking at the sky in order to figure out what is happening on the ground. The Very Large Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) technique used for position measurements is mind-bogglingly precise: distances between radio telescopes separated by thousands of kilometres (for example, in Tasmania and Hawaii) can be routinely measured to within a couple of centimetres! Even this might not be good enough for some important Earth science questions, however. To achieve even higher accuracy, AGN physics as well atmospheric and other effects must be understood.

I am a passionate advocate for science literacy, particularly in schools. In collaboration with some wonderful school teachers in the Greater Hobart area, I have been introducing real data from Tasmanian telescopes into schools, to study the movement of tectonic plates, and the science and technology that make it happen.

I am the current Editor-in-Chief of Publications of the Astronomical Society of Australia, the top-ranked astrophysics and space science journal outside of Europe and North America.

Outside work, I am the current Chair of the Tasmanian Branch of the Australian Institute of Physics. If you are a fellow Tasmanian, or just happen to be visiting, feel free to come along to one of our public lectures.