Harley Wood Winter School 2014

Speaker Abstracts

Brian Schmidt
What I'd be doing if I were a PhD Student right now
It doesn't feel that many years ago that I was a PhD student, and I remember the angst I felt about all aspects that lead up to doing a PhD including choosing a institution, a PhD supervisor, a PhD  Topic. And then further angst about my career during and after my PhD. I will share my thoughts  about undertaking research in a PhD, particularly concentrating on the PhD.

Geraint Lewis
The Next Steps in Cosmology: Bridging Theory, Simulations and even
We stand at a strange crossroads in cosmology. We think we know that the Universe is dominated by a dark energy, driving expansion, and dark matter, that funnels baryons into the stars and  galaxies we see around us. However, we don’t know what this dark sector of the Universe is actually made from. To take the next step in cosmology, we need to consider the various alternatives; warm dark matter, evolving scalar fields, and interactions in the dark sector, and ask what their imprint would be on the cosmos we observe. The influence may be quite subtle, and we will need to rope together theory, simulations and observations to understand just what we should be looking at with our future telescopes to help unravel these mysteries.

Steve Tingay
Radio Astronomy: A Gap Analysis

Radio astronomy has come a long way in 50 years. Over many iterations and innovations in technology, we are entering an era in which the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) represents the next step in capability in radio astronomy, with facilities orders of magnitude larger and more complicated than previous radio telescopes. This step opens up a number of gaps and departures from what has come before us, with implications for the instruments and the people involved. What are the gaps that open up? How can the technology and the people rise to the challenge of building a radio telescope focused on answering fundamental physics questions? I will describe the SKA and what is happening around the world to fill the gaps to get to the SKA, in particular what is happening in Australia. People of the generation now attending Harley Wood Winter Schools are the best placed over the next decade to contribute to and benefit from these very exciting developments. Where are the best opportunities for early career researchers in this landscape? Answers will be offered.

Amanda Bauer
Communicating your Science

A critical part of being a successful scientist involves telling people about your brilliant research results. From publishing well-argued papers with meaningful, understandable plots, to presenting memorable talks that people come away from feeling like they’re excited about your science, a critical skill you must actively work to acquire is communicating your science to a broad array of audiences, using many different media. In this talk I will share communication strategies, tips, and tools that will hopefully help you make the impact on the astronomy community, and humanity, that you might be hoping to inflict during your career.

Aaron Robotham
Preparing for the data storm
Any modern astronomy PhD student will inevitably have to deal with more data than any normal human will see in a lifetime. When we panic we tend to make rash decisions, so preparing for this data deluge is the best defence you have. Best practices have also rapidly improved over the last 30 years, so proper statistical analysis is not necessarily something senior mentors (many of whom came from a data starved era) are well equipped to help you with. Here I will present some intriguing examples of when poor analysis will lead you down misguided paths, and will outline broad strategies for how to make sure your conclusions will stand the statistical-test-of-time. In other words, even if you don't know what to do, you will know what to Google.


Jo Dawson
From Gas to Stars to the Galactic Fountain: A Milky Way Magical Mystery Tour
What is our Galaxy and what is our place in it? This tour of our own Milky Way takes us from the Local Bubble, to the Galactic Centre, and high up into the Galactic Halo, along the way exploring how our Galaxy gets its gas, how stars are formed, and the role these processes play in the wider ecosystem of the Milky Way.

Stas Shabala
Active Galactic Nuclei and star formation in galaxies
Stars in galaxies form through gravitational collapse of cold gas. Active Galactic Nuclei - regions of intense emission around super-massive black holes at the centres of these galaxies - blast copious amount of radiation into their surroundings. Unsurprisingly, this has consequences for both star formation (through heating, compression, removal and general obliteration of the gas); and black hole growth (for the same reasons). In this way, star formation and AGN activity in the Universe are tightly coupled. I will explain how we can study the inherent physics of these processes by combining multi-wavelength observations with theoretical models.

Andrew Hopkins
Writing journal papers and the review process

Publishing papers in refereed journals is the staple of professional research. It is one of the keys activities from which productivity and impact are judged, and one of the basic requirements for continuing to be successful in an academic career. Writing a paper for the first time, however, can be a daunting activity for students. This presentation will cover the paper submission and review process to give students an idea of what to expect, and provide some context to help demystify this basic academic pursuit. It will also include some personal thoughts and tips on preparing papers.

Elaine Sadler
Multi-wavelength astronomy
Astronomers often refer to a "cosmic symphony" of signals spanning the electromagnetic spectrum from low-frequency radio waves to high-energy gamma-rays. I will present a series of case studies to show how the combination of data from observing facilities working at different wavelengths can provide new insights into astrophysical problems.

Jonathan Whitmore
Full-stack science workflow += the ipython notebook
My talk will range from setting up a bashrc, to how you spend your time on a day to day basis, to the ultimate goal of clearly communicating reproducible scientific results. I'll have many examples of common pitfalls to avoid and a few tactics that can get you series of small wins in the battle that we call research. Finally, I will demonstrate the ipython notebook which I think will become a game changer for sharing reproducible science. I will make my slides and my code publically available after the talk.

Yeshe Fenner
A Students Guide: What you need to know about National astronomy infrastructure funding and access
National research infrastructure in Australia has been supported through a variety of Federal Government programs that can look like alphabet soup (NCRIS, CRIS, EIF, NeCTAR, RDSI..!). These programs, alongside those within the AAO and CSIRO-CASS, have allowed Australia to build, upgrade, and operate a wide variety of telescopes, instruments, and computational facilities. This talk will cut through the acronyms and focus on questions such as: how are astronomy infrastructure priorities determined; how is the funding for National astronomy infrastructure allocated and managed; how can you use these facilities; what does the future hold; and can you be involved?

Panel Discussion
This discussion will cover a wide range of topics with questions submitted by students on the first day of the school.

Quentin Parker
Mind the Gap: Planetary Nebulae -  the short phase in the long stellar evolutionary story between the AGB and white dwarf.
Planetary nebulae are an important yet very short 20,000-30,000 year phase in the billion year lifetimes of low to intermediate mass stars. In this talk I will explain how useful they are in stellar astrophysics. This is not only in terms of  improving our understanding of late stage stellar evolution by bridging the gap between pulsating AGB stars and passive white dwarfs but also how they enrich the ISM and betray the chemical evolution of their progenitors. They provide powerful diagnostics of their ejected environment through plasma physics and enable us to trace their distributions and chemical gradients across the galaxy and beyond. Work at MQ has been at the forefront in exploiting these useful astrophysical probes and some of our latest work and results will be presented.

Matthew Colless
Confronting theoretical and observational cosmology - shedding light on dark matters
I will provide a rapid review of modern cosmology, with particular emphasis on the standard cosmological model, open issues relating to dark matter and dark energy, current theoretical and observational research avenues, and opportunities for the future.