I’m a Research Fellow in the Astrophotonics group of the UWA node of ICRAR, working toward a Free Space Optical Communication (FSOC) ground station here in Western Australia. Optical wavelengths can offer much higher data rates and power efficiency over radio, but atmospheric turbulence currently limits its utility over long distances. With the use of Adaptive Optics (AO), commonly used in optical astronomy to correct the aberrations caused by this turbulence, we can account for this in real-time to maintain stable optical links between ground and space.
I studied physics as an undergraduate at Curtin here in Perth before moving on to a PhD at the Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics, at ANU in Canberra. I worked in near-field cosmology, writing and characterising a detection algorithm to find ultra-faint dwarf galaxies orbiting the Milky Way. I found one, Bootes II, which was the faintest known galaxy at the time. After my PhD I moved to Las Campanas Observatory in Chile, where as a Magellan Fellow I supported Australian astronomers using the twin 6.5m Magellan Telescopes. I briefly left the field to work in prostate cancer research back in Perth, before finding my way back to astronomy (and Chile!), this time at the 8.4m Gemini South. But what’s better than an 8.4m mirror? Two of them, so I moved to the Large Binocular Telescope in Arizona. There I dove into Adaptive Optics, and while I was there completed a Master’s in optical sciences at the University of Arizona. In my spare time, I did another Master’s in space systems at Florida Tech. Now I’m here at ICRAR, putting all that together to help advance Australia’s ground-to-space optical communication capabilities.
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