Joss Bland-Hawthorn receives prestigious UC Berkeley Professorship

7 February 2017

ARC Laureate Professor Joss Bland-Hawthorn has been awarded a visiting Miller Professorship to work at the University of California Berkeley, United States.

The Miller Institute funds short term appointments to eminent scientists to foster collaboration with national and international research programs. He will be working with colleagues over a three month period at the start of 2018 at one of the most pre-eminent departments in world astronomy.

The professorships have mostly been awarded to Americans and Europeans over the past 60 years; Professor Bland-Hawthorn, from the University of Sydney’s School of Physics, is only the 6th Australian to be awarded with the prestigious professorship since its introduction in 1957 and, according to their records, the first researcher from the University of Sydney to receive it.

Professor Bland-Hawthorn is Director of the Sydney Institute for Astronomy and conducts research into astrophysics and astronomical instrumentation. Both research areas will be explored during his tenure at Berkeley.

“Winning this award and being able to work at Berkeley is a huge honour and shows the high standard of our research,” Professor Bland-Hawthorn said. “Every time I spend time at overseas institutions, it has led to their students coming to Sydney and lasting collaborations with their scientists. Forging collaborations with leading overseas schools is crucial to Sydney’s ongoing success.”

“SIfA is actively engaged in developing the next generation of astronomical instruments which has the consequence of opening up new scientific questions. We are in need of huge supercomputer simulations to optimise our instrument designs. We cannot do everything so sharing complementary skills with Berkeley scientists is an exciting prospect. I am proud that our work is recognised by the international community and am looking forward to my stint at Berkeley.”

Professor Bland-Hawthorn has been at the forefront of optical astronomy and astrophysics in Australia and internationally. The numerous new technologies and devices he and his Sydney colleagues have developed have opened up opportunities for astronomical research and provided insights into our Galaxy and beyond.

Professor Bland-Hawthorn was recently awarded the Australian Academy of Science’s 2017 Thomas Ranken Lyle Medal and last year received a NSW Premier's Prize for Science & Engineering in the Astronomical Society of Australia’s inaugural Peter McGregor prize in recognition of exceptional achievement/innovation in astronomical instrumentation.

In addition to the development of new instruments, he will be working at the Department of Astronomy with eminent US astronomer C.F. McKee, one of the leading theoretical astrophysicists.

Professor Bland-Hawthorn will be staying in Berkeley next year from January to April.

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