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New Chair appointed to Australia Telescope Steering Committee

Professor Tara Murphy has been appointed Chair of the ATNF Steering Committee for the next three years.

An Australian astronomer based at The University of Sydney and a member of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Gravitational Wave Discovery (OzGrav) Executive, Professor Murphy's research focuses on radio transients and she co-leads the Variables And Slow Transients (VAST) survey team using the ASKAP radio telescope.

Since the early 2000s Professor Murphy has conducted several major projects using the ATNF telescopes, including the Australia Telescope Compact Array (ATCA) and the Parkes radio telescope, Murriyang, and now ASKAP. Professor Murphy's career highlights include observing as a post-doc in the Australia Telescope 20GHz Survey team and, in 2017, using ATCA to detect radio emission from the first neutron star merger.

Professor Murphy said she was pleased to take on the new role, which comes at a fantastic time for Australian astronomy.

"I am looking forward to the expansion of the research opportunities we can provide, especially with the start of the full ASKAP surveys. We have spent the past decade preparing for these, from the instrument, software and scientific perspectives. The pilot surveys have already proved to be fruitful and I can’t wait to see the full potential of ASKAP, as the newest telescope of the ATNF, starting its ground-breaking science," said Professor Murphy.

Professor Murphy succeeds Dr David Skellern AO, who served on the Steering Committee for five years, three of those as Chair.

During Dr Skellern's time as Chair of the Steering Committee, key milestones achieved by the ATNF included the realisation of ASKAP as the world's leading rapid survey instrument; the formation of the start-up company Quasar Satellite Technology to apply the next generation of ASKAP receiver technology to satellite communications; and generation of external revenue via commercial spacecraft communication opportunities that enables the ATNF to maintain its decades-long astronomy commitment to provide telescope access free of charge based on scientific merit.

Dr Douglas Bock, Director of the ATNF, thanked Dr Skellern for his strategic advice during his term and welcomed Professor Murphy to the role of Steering Committee Chair.

"David brought both academic rigour and deep business insights to the role, and it's been a privilege to work with him," he said.

"Tara is a leader in our astronomy community with rich experience using the instruments that make up the ATNF. I look forward to working with Tara and the Steering Committee as we support our partners to establish the SKA-Low telescope in Australia and contribute to the next decadal plan for Australian astronomy."

The ATSC is an advisory body appointed by the CSIRO Board to provide advice to the ATNF Director on CSIRO’s ongoing delivery of radio astronomy capabilities for the nation. The Steering Committee appoints the ATNF Users Committee, which represents the interests of astronomers using our telescopes, and the Time Assignment Committee, which reviews observing proposals.

The list of current ATNF Steering Committee members is available at

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Added by Rachel Rayner on 2022-06-24

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