The AstroQuest team

Meet some of the research scientists and outreach team members involved with AstroQuest.

The Science Team

Dr Luke Davies

International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR)
Luke Davies is a John Stocker Fellow at the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) based at the University of the Western Australia. He is an active member of the Galaxy And Mass Assembly (GAMA) survey and project scientist for the Wide Area VISTA Extragalactic Survey – Deep (WAVES-deep). His research is concerned with how galaxies change and evolve over the history of the Universe and is primarily focused on the rate at which galaxies form new stars. Most recently he has looked into the affects of galaxy collisions on the formation of new stars, and what happens to galaxies of different masses when they smash together. He did his PhD and first research position at the University of Bristol in the UK, where he investigated the properties of the very first galaxies in the Universe. Learn more here:

Dr Aaron Robotham

International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research
Aaron Robotham did his PhD at the University of Bristol between 2005-2008. This involved analysing the contents of groups of galaxies discovered in the Australian led 2dF Galaxy Redshift Survey. He subsequently moved to St Andrews in the UK and began working on the Galaxy And Mass Assembly (GAMA) survey, which had a large amount of observing time on the Anglo-Australian Telescope in NSW. Using this data Aaron constructed common groups of galaxies, and used this information to infer the dark matter contents of the local Universe.

In order to continue working on GAMA, and to move nearer to collaborators, Aaron moved to ICRAR/UWA in Perth in 2011. Initially this was only meant to be a short trip, but he has stayed there ever since. He continues to be involved in GAMA, and is also now working closely with Australian radio astronomers and simulators who model the Universe in order to understand what we see.

The Outreach Team

Pete Wheeler

International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR)
Pete is the Outreach, Education and Communications Manager for the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR), a joint venture of Curtin University and The University of Western Australia.  Originally from South Wales in the UK, Pete studied Physics at Leeds University before becoming a Test Engineer for a London based company. In 2003 he immigrated to Western Australia and became a science communicator with Scitech, Perth’s Science Discovery Centre.   After a series of roles developing educational resources for WA teachers, managing the largest planetarium in the southern hemisphere and coordinating large scale outreach and education initiatives, Pete defines himself as a professional science communicator with a passion for new and innovative ways of engaging people in science.

Kirsten Gottschalk

International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR))
Kirsten wanted to be an astronomer from her earliest memory, but soon realised she much preferred talking about it than doing it. After some study in Astrophysics and Science Communication, she found her way to the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) in Perth. She now gets to meet astronauts, talk about the world’s biggest telescope (the Square Kilometre Array), build telescopes in the desert and show off the gorgeous West Australian night sky to anyone that comes near. Part of her job is helping develop opportunities for everyone to get involved in astronomy, like AstroQuest, Galaxy Explorer and ICRAR’s other past citizen science project theSkyNet.

Lisa Evans

International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR)
Lisa is the project officer for AstroQuest. She originally studied Astronomy, but ended up moving into a career in 3D animation and game development instead. After years of working on visualisations for the mining industry, a surfing game, a soccer game, and a few educational projects, Lisa became interested in so-called “serious games” – games that have other goals than just entertainment. She began a PhD and also worked on a few serious game projects for organisations like the Department of Road Safety and Surf Life Saving WA, before coming to ICRAR to help develop and gamify AstroQuest. This has brought her full-circle, and allowed her to combine her passions in one awesome job!

Christian Polson-Brown

International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR)

Christian is an assistant project officer for AstroQuest. After completing his bachelor’s degree in conservation biology, Christian became involved in a range of science outreach and engagement activities. He enjoyed it so much that he went on to complete a master’s degree in science communication at The University of Western Australia. His role at ICRAR started as a work placement, but he was asked to stay on and continue assisting with the development and testing of AstroQuest. He can also be found working in outreach for the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology (PEB).