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Curtin graduate sets off in search of new galaxies

Media release

Dianella resident and Curtin University of Technology graduate Shane Walsh is about to embark on the experience of a lifetime.

Dr Walsh has been offered a prestigious Magellan Fellowship, and is the only Australian researcher to receive the award this year.

As part of the three-year Fellowship, he will travel to Chile to undertake research and instrument support duties at the Las Campanas Observatory and then complete his third year at Curtin’s Institute of Radio Astronomy (CIRA).

It’s an opportunity of a lifetime for the 27 year-old.

“This is a great opportunity to make a name for myself in the global astronomy community,” he said.

While working at the Las Campanas Observatory, which is 2.5 times the size of the largest optical telescope in Australia, Mr Walsh will be observing dwarf galaxies orbiting around the Milky Way.

“Finding these dwarf galaxies is what I’ll be researching in Chile and also when I return to Curtin,” he said.

“For astronomers, this is an interesting area of study because it will help us understand our universe.”

Mr Walsh said he looked forward to completing his Fellowship at CIRA.

“I wanted to come back to Curtin because it’s a competitive university in astronomy,” Mr Walsh said.

“It is becoming significantly involved in important projects, such as the Square Kilometre Array, making it an exciting place to work.”

CIRA Co-Director, Professor Steven Tingay, said Mr Walsh’s research experience in Chile would be of immense value to Curtin.

“The skills that Shane will hone in Chile will prove invaluable for analysing the data from the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) radio telescope when it goes online in the next few years,” Professor Tingay said.

Curtin’s Professor of Radio Astronomy Engineering and CIRA Co-Director, Professor Peter Hall, also stressed the importance of Mr Walsh’s international research experience.

“His experience dealing with the technical aspects of astronomy will also be of great use to the university and astronomy in general in Western Australia,” Professor Hall said.

Mr Walsh completed his Bachelor of Science and Honours in Physics in 2004 and completed his PhD at the Australian National University.

The Magellan Fellowship is run by the Anglo-Australian Observatory and the Carnegie Observatories.

Access to the Magellan telescopes is made possible by funds provided by the Federal Fovernment’s National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS), and is coordinated by the Australian Gemini Office hosted by the Anglo-Australian Observatory in Sydney.

Mr Walsh leaves for Chile in July.