Exploring the Last Frontier: Australia's pioneering work in astronomy

Professor Brian Schmidt, Laureate Fellow at The Australian National University's Mount Stromlo Observatory

Co-presented with the 2013 Harry Messel International Science School

11 July

Over the past 60 years Australia has played a leading role in humanity's exploration of the Cosmos. From the establishment of radio astronomy, to the observations that underpin the standard model of the Universe, Australia has contributed using innovative instruments that incorporate world-leading technology. Brian will describe Australia's role in helping establishing our view of the Universe, and speculate how our participation in the next generation of radio and optical telescopes will help unlock some of the Universe's great outstanding mysteries.

Brian Schmidt

Brian Schmidt is a Laureate Fellow at The Australian National University's Mount Stromlo Observatory. Brian was raised in Montana and Alaska, USA, and received undergraduate degrees in Physics and Astronomy from the University of Arizona in 1989. Under the supervision of Robert Kirshner, he completed his Astronomy Master's degree (1992) and PhD (1993) from Harvard University. In 1994 he and Nick Suntzeff formed the HighZ SN Search team, a group of 20 astronomers on 5 continents who used distant exploding stars to trace the expansion of the Universe back in time. This group's discovery of an accelerating Universe was named Science Magazine's Breakthrough of the Year for 1998.

Brian Schmidt joined the staff of the Australian National University in 1995, and was awarded the Australian Government's inaugural Malcolm McIntosh award for achievement in the Physical Sciences in 2000, The Australian Academy of Sciences Pawsey Medal in 2001, the Astronomical Society of India's Vainu Bappu Medal in 2002, and an Australian Research Council Federation Fellowship in 2005. In 2006 Schmidt was jointly awarded the US$1M Shaw Prize for Astronomy, and shared the US$0.5M 2007 Gruber Prize for Cosmology with his High-Z SN Search Team colleagues.

In 2008 he was elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Sciences, a Fellow of the United States National Academy, and Foreign Member of the Spanish Royal Academy of Sciences. His work on the accelerating universe was awarded the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics, jointly with Adam Riess and Saul Perlmutter. Brian is continuing his work using exploding stars to study the Universe, and is leading Mt Stromlo’s effort to build the SkyMapper telescope, a new facility that will provide a comprehensive digit.