Astronomy is a rich and diverse scientific research area, covering a range of topics from star formation to galaxy evolution. Fortunately for SciX students, telescopes worldwide are continually producing huge amounts of data that is often freely available and can be analysed in new and unique ways to explore student-driven hypotheses and discover new scientific knowledge.

What Students will do

Students will be introduced to cutting-edge astronomical understanding of stars and galaxies by the researchers discovering the knowledge of the future right now. Students will be taught how to access and process astronomical data using Python, and supported in designing then investigating their own individual hypothesis with this data. Research questions to be explored might include determination of star formation rates or the relationship between galaxy colour and shape. 

Prerequisite Study

  • Physics
  • Mathematics 

Areas of Student Interest

  • Astronomy 
  • Astrophysics 
  • Space
  • Origins of life
  • Coding 

Lead Academic: Maria Cunningham - Senior Lecturer, School of Physics

Maria Cunningham

    Molecular Astrophysics: One of my main areas of research is the use of molecular line radiation to investigate the physical conditions and chemistry of molecular clouds, both in the Milky Way and in other galaxies. 

    Bioastronomy: Bioastronomy and astrobiology are among the most exciting areas of research in science today, bringing together scientists from the disciplines of physics, astronomy, geology, chemistry and biology. My own interests lie in investigating pre-biotic molecules in the interstellar medium, and I am involved in collaborative research with groups in the USA, Chile and Germany. 

    Turbulence and energy transfer in the interstellar medium: I am interested in using astronomical observations of the interstellar medium to constrain the turbulent properties, and to determine the effect that turbulence and energy transfer through the interstellar medium have on star formation. 

    Using data intensive astronomy together with computational astrophysics to understand the relationship between star formation and the surrounding interstellar medium.

    Mentor: Shannon Melrose

    Shannon Melrose

    Shannon Melrose is currently a PhD student in the School of Physics at the University of New South Wales (UNSW). He has Bachelor’s degrees in Advanced Science (Physics, Honours) and Arts (French, Spanish) from UNSW. Shannon is heavily involved in first-year physics instruction and astronomy outreach activities, with research interests in computational astronomy and black-hole detection. His current research incorporates molecular astrophysics and statistical analysis techniques to characterise the massive star-formation properties of the interstellar medium. 



    Mentor: Aman Khalid

    Aman Khalid is a PhD student at the School of Physics at UNSW. During undergraduate research projects, he developed a keen interest in the field of galaxy formation and evolution. His PhD research focuses on the analysis of tidal features in galaxies from modern cosmological simulations. These tidal features tell us about how a galaxy has interacted with other nearby galaxies in its history.