Professor in Physics and Astronomy, UNSW

I am an astronomer in the School of Physics at the University of New South Wales.

My research centres around the study of how stars form and the excitation of the interstellar medium in which this occurs. This makes uses the tools of infrared and millimetre-wave astronomy, measuring the spectral signatures arising from the gas and dust in interstellar molecular clouds.

The Mopra millimetre telescope in Coonabarabran, NSW, the Nanten2 sub-millimetre telescope in Chile and the HEAT telescope at Ridge A in Antarctica play a primary role in this research. Two large survey programs I am conducting with Mopra are on the organic molecules residing in the Central Molecular Zone of our Galaxy, and of the distribution of the molecular gas along the fourth quadrant of the Milky Way.

My research has also led me to Antarctica, where the extremely cold and dry air provides the best infrared and sub-mm observing conditions on the Earth. I am actively involved in the development of Antarctic astronomy. I organised the first-ever International Astronomical Union Symposium in this field, in Beijing in August 2012.

I am the Editor of the Journal and Proceedings of the Royal Society of New South Wales - the second oldest refereed publication in the Southern Hemisphere.


BA, MA in Mathematics, University of Cambridge

PhD in Astrophysics, University of Edinburgh

Postdoctoral Fellow, NASA Ames Research Center

Staff Astronomer, UK Infrared Telescope and Anglo Australian Observatory

Visiting Professor, Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies and University of Leeds

Academic, School of Physics, University of New South Wales


  • –present
    Astronomer, University of New South Wales


  • 1986 
    University of Edinburgh, PhD