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The International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) is pleased to announce the appointment of Professor Simon Ellingsen as the new Executive Director following a comprehensive global search.

A headshot of Professor Simon Ellingsen

Professor Ellingsen commences as ICRAR’s Executive Director in April 2024.

With an extensive background in radio astronomy and a proven track record of leadership, Professor Ellingsen brings a wealth of expertise to guide ICRAR into a new era of ground-breaking research and innovation.

Upon his appointment, Professor Ellingsen said “As the incoming Executive Director, I’m looking forward to working with and supporting the ICRAR team to maximise the excellent work being done in scientific research and in translating some of the innovative technologies into direct and tangible benefits for the Western Australian community and the nation.”

“ICRAR has a clear goal – to play a crucial role in the international SKA project by attracting leading experts in multiwavelength astronomy, astrophysics, engineering, and data-intensive astronomy.”

“Great progress has been made in the 15-year history towards achieving the mission, providing a solid foundation. The next ten years are vital with SKA commencing construction in December 2022, and we can see opportunities for revolutionary leaps in our understanding of the Universe.”

Professor Ellingsen holds a PhD in Astrophysics and has consistently demonstrated a passion for advancing the frontiers of radio astronomy. Before joining ICRAR, he served as Dean of the School of Natural Sciences at the University of Tasmania, where he played a central role in expanding the University’s radio antennas from a single antenna to seven across five sites in Australia. It is the only continental-scale radio interferometry array owned and operated by a University anywhere in the world.

He brings a wealth of physics and astronomy experience, contributing to nearly 200 publications and winning over $15 million in competitive grants. He is a Fellow of the Astronomical Society of Australia and the Australian Institute of Physics. He has served on several committees and advisory groups for Astronomy Australia Limited (AAL), the Australian Space Agency and the Astronomical Society of Australia.

His passion for physics and radio astronomy began with his Bachelor of Science (Hons) project, where he mapped radio emissions from Centaurus A, the Magellanic Clouds, and the centre of the Milky Way. His PhD focused on radio spectroscopy, discovering many 6.7 GHz methanol masers and using them to study the formation of stars. This research led to the identification of new star formation regions and has been pivotal in galactic surveying, resulting in the discovery of numerous new high-mass star formation regions. He continues to use these techniques to solve astrophysical problems to this day.

Acting Board Chair Dr Jacqui Coombes said, “We are delighted to announce and welcome Professor Ellingsen as ICRAR’s new Executive Director. His appointment reinforces ICRAR’s commitment to advancing the frontiers of radio astronomy. As a powerhouse for nurturing scientific and engineering excellence, ICRAR continues to play a critical role in enhancing global understanding and technological development for the SKA project. His leadership will strengthen our ongoing efforts, ensuring that Western Australia remains at the forefront of this international endeavour”.

Professor Ellingsen will commence his new role in April this year.