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.

    PhD Student: Anishya Harshan 

    Anisyha Harshan

    Anishya Harshan is a PhD student in the School of Physics at UNSW-Sydney. She completed her Bachelors and Master in Physics in India. Her research focuses on how galaxies form and evolve in different environments in the distant universe. She utilizes spectroscopic and photometric observations from large ground based telescopes to study the properties of the Inter-stellar medium and star formation histories of galaxies. 




    PhD Student: 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. 




    PhD Student: Giulia Santucci

    Giulia Santucci - PhD Student

    Giulia Santucci is an Italian woman, with an undeniable passion for astronomy. As a little girl, she was fascinated by all the stars and objects she could see in the night sky and she wanted to know everything about them. So, following this interest, she obtained a bachelor degree in Astronomy and a Masters degree in Astrophysics in Italy. She then moved to Australia, to pursue her dream of having a career in Astronomy, and she is now a PhD candidate at the University of New South Wales.

    Her current research is focused on studying galaxies that sits in the centre of big galaxy clusters, shedding light on how they formed and evolved, through the analysis of their chemical composition and their kinematics.