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 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