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Curtin researcher one of Australia’s top young science communicators

Media release

Curtin University astronomy researcher Dr Natasha Hurley-Walker has added to her impressive list of achievements by being announced as an ABC RN Top 5 Science winner.

The annual Top 5 program is an initiative to discover Australia’s best young science communicators via a competitive national selection process involving more than 150 applicants from universities and research institutions.

Dr Hurley-Walker, an Early Career Research Fellow from the Curtin Institute of Radio Astronomy, part of the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research, is regarded as a leader in the field of radio astronomy. She helped commission the low-frequency Square Kilometre Array (SKA) precursor radio telescope, the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA), which is located in the Western Australian outback.

She also led the MWA team which conducted the GLEAM (Galactic and Extragalactic All-sky MWA) survey, using the powerful radio telescope to observe and capture images of the lowest radio frequencies, creating striking multi-coloured maps of the Universe. This work and her outreach led to her being named WA Young Tall Poppy Scientist of the Year 2017.

Curtin University Vice-Chancellor Professor Deborah Terry congratulated Dr Hurley-Walker on becoming an ABC RN Top 5 Science winner, saying that her research helped raise the global profile of the University.

“It is fantastic to have this brilliant young Curtin researcher recognised yet again and her continuing success is a direct result of her commitment to her field,” Professor Terry said.

“Dr Hurley-Walker’s ongoing success in the field of radio astronomy, most importantly for her work on the MWA, makes her a great advocate for science.”

Dr Hurley-Walker said she was honoured to be recognised again for her contributions to the science community.

“Science has long been a passion of mine, and I am honoured that my work at Curtin University and throughout the wider community continues to gain recognition,” Dr Hurley-Walker said.

“This year’s five award winners are all women and I’m excited to be a role model for other aspiring women in STEM.

“The media residency at ABC RN ahead of National Science Week will allow me to more effectively share my passion for and knowledge of science and help others become both enlightened and excited by it.”

Dr Hurley-Walker has visited many schools to share her love of astronomy with primary school children and has given high school students invaluable advice about pursuing a career in science.

She has delivered keynote talks at Astrofest, which is Australia’s largest astronomy event, and also delivered a TEDxPerth talk on How radio telescopes show us unseen galaxies.

As a winner, Dr Hurley-Walker will receive a two-week media residency at ABC RN in July ahead of National Science Week. She will work with some of Australia’s top science journalists on how to best bring her vast knowledge and expertise to audiences hungry for science-based content.