Professor Dick Hunstead and his wife Penny have used $1.4 million from the sale of their home in Newport to support the next generation of young astrophysicists.
The Dick Hunstead Fund for Astrophysics will help the Sydney Institute for Astronomy (SIfA) enable a broad range of discoveries across many disciplines.
The institute, based in the School of Physics, is one of the most diverse astrophysics groupings within Australia, spanning optical, radio, infrared, x-ray, theoretical and computational astrophysics.
The gift will support current students and encourage more to take up study in the area of astrophysics.
For more than 50 years Professor Hunstead has been researching astronomy and teaching physics to students at the University, where he continues to hold a part-time position.
For his contribution and dedication, especially to his students, Penny Hunstead decided that their donation, using two-thirds of the funds from the sale of their family home, should be in Dick's name.
Professor Hunstead has made several important discoveries and published more than 200 articles, with quasars, black holes, galaxy formation and evolution just some of his areas of interest.
“This is a chance to give this crucial institute the support it deserves. The money will help current students and encourage more to take up study in this area," Professor Hunstead said.
There has been a substantial growth in astrophysics internationally, driven largely by the developments of new observational facilities.
SIfA's most valuable instrument is the Molonglo Observatory Synthesis Telescope, a forerunner of the international Square Kilometre Array project.
"It is essential that the institute positions itself to make the most of opportunities. As part of lifting its profile I want prominent astronomers such as Martin Rees, Emeritus Professor of Cosmology and Astrophysics at Cambridge, to visit."
This is a chance to give this crucial institute the support it deserves. The money will help current students and encourage more to take up study in this area.
Professor Joss Bland-Hawthorn, Director of the Sydney Institute for Astronomy says that the gift will help strengthen the institute and support its students.
“SIfA has a strong record of mentoring students and now, thanks to Dick and Penny’s generosity, we will be able to put more programs in place to help our research students get the most out of their time here.”
“In the longer term, the fund will help enhance the student experience and support more students and early career researchers as they pursue careers in astronomy and the wider industry.
“The support of both Dick and Penny means a great deal. Dick has inspired many students and this gift will enable us to share our research results more widely to help inspire future generations of scientists.”
The University of Sydney’s INSPIRED Campaign is Australia’s most successful philanthropic campaign, having raised more than $800 million from more than 57,000 donors across seven continents.
A Sydney team was the first in the world to confirm radiowaves from the latest gravitational waves event, resulting from a spectacular neutron star merger that has produced light and radio waves as well as gravitational waves.