Pronouns: he/him
PBSci Dean's Office
University of California Santa Cruz
1156 High Street, Santa Cruz, CA 95064, USA
Phone: +1 831 459 2931
(last seen in Santa Cruz CA, United States)

I am Dean of the Division of Physical and Biological Sciences (PBSci) at the University of California Santa Cruz (UCSC), and am a professor in UCSC's Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics.

As Dean of PBSci, I aim to foster world-leading reseach and impact, to provide degree-defining experiences for PBSci's students, and to center equity and inclusion at PBSci's core.

My research interests focus on cosmic magnetism, time-domain astrophysics and interstellar gas. My main goal is to understand why the Universe is magnetic: in particular, I am using the unique capabilities of the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) to conduct the Polarisation Sky Survey of the Universe's Magnetism (POSSUM). POSSUM is based around an effect called "Faraday rotation", in which light from a background object is subtly changed when it passes through a cloud of magnetized gas. By measuring the Faraday rotation in the emission from a million distant galaxies over 50% of the sky, POSSUM aims to transform our understanding of magnetic fields in galaxies, clusters and in diffuse intergalactic gas, and to thus address key unanswered questions on Milky Way ecology, galaxy evolution and cosmology. The data from POSSUM will provide a substantial legacy to the astronomical community, while the new instrumentation required for this project is prototyping the technology needed for the Square Kilometre Array.

I also study the ways in which celestial objects change, flicker, flare and explode. I am involved in several systemic studies of the time-domain Universe, tailored to the unique capabilities of wide-field telescopes and all-sky surveys. I'm particularly excited by fast radio bursts (FRBs), random and intense flashes of distant radio emission whose nature and origin are one of the biggest mysteries in astronomy. I am fortunate to be part of the CHIME/FRB team, which has discovered more FRBs than every other experiment combined!

If you are a UCSC student interested in joining my research team, please feel free to email me.

I was born and raised in Sydney, Australia. I did my undergraduate and graduate degrees at The University of Sydney and at CSIRO's Australia Telescope National Facility. I subsequently held postdoctoral fellowships at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, was an associate professor of astronomy at Harvard University, an ARC Federation Fellow and Australian Laureate Fellow at The University of Sydney, and then was the Canada Research Chair in Radio Astronomy at the University of Toronto. From 2011 to 2014, I was the founding director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for All-sky Astrophysics, and from 2015 to 2023 was the director of the Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics.

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Photo: Renee Wall

My book Extreme Cosmos
Buy it now: Aus/NZ, everywhere else

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When I'm not working...

  • What I'm listening to:
    • Beautiful Things - Benson Boone
    • Belong Together - Mark Ambor
    • Dial Drunk (with Post Malone) - Noah Kahan
    • Houdini - Dua Lipa
    • Fortnight (feat. Post Malone) - Taylor Swift
    • What Was I Made For? [From the Motion Picture "Barbie"] - Billie Eilish
    • Nonsense - Sabrina Carpenter
    • I Can Do It with a Broken Heart - Taylor Swift
    • To The Moon - Meghan Trainor
    • Miles on It - Marshmello

  • Some books I've been reading:

Lots of accesses since 29-Feb-1996.