ASA TDA Steering Committee Ballot – 2023

Electronic Voting closes: Friday 1st December 2023 at 5pm AEST

The TDA Chapter aims to have broad representation across career stage, gender identity, research area, and geographic location/institution. The TDA founding committee will oversee that an appropriate level of diversity is met across these areas where possible. The people listed below have already been successfully nominated (uncontested) into the following TDA Steering Committee positions: 

Chair – Ben Montet (UNSW Sydney – Senior Lecturer) 

I am interested in the discovery and characterisation of exoplanets and the analysis of stellar activity of potential planet hosting-stars from time-series photometry and spectroscopy. I am keen to help grow the time domain community in Australia and help find new ways to collaborate and share expertise across facilities and methodologies, particularly in the imminent LSST era.

Deputy-chair – Richard de Grijs (Macquarie – Professor) 

One of my three main research areas focuses on stellar variability and the astronomical distance scale. I recently chaired IAU Symposium 376, on “Period-luminosity relations in the 2020s”, and one of my main research thrusts involves in-depth analysis of the physics driving numerous types of variable stars by combining light curves from the Zwicky Transient Facility with medium-resolution LAMOST spectra.

HDR student – Bailey Martin (ANU – finishing MPhil, starting PhD 2024) 

I am involved in supernova cosmology research, specifically through understanding the physical driver of the host galaxy mass-step, observed when comparing SN Ia Hubble residuals and the mass of their hosts. I also perform spectroscopic follow-up observations and classification of SNe observed by the DEBass Survey, and complete observing runs for the DECam Alliance for Transients.

Immediate Past President – Ashley Ruiter (UNSW Canberra – Senior Lecturer) 

I am interested in understanding the explosion mechanism that drives thermonuclear (type Ia) supernovae and the binary evolution pathways that produce their progenitors. My work involves predicting the physical properties and birthrates of interacting stellar populations that lead to transient events like type Ia supernovae, hydrogen-deficient carbon stars (i.e. RCB), novae, and accretion-induced collapse neutron stars. 

Information on Candidates for the ballot is below (alphabetical order).


ASA TDA Steering Committee Candidates


Arash Bahramian, Curtin Institute of Radio Astronomy

Area/s of expertise: Radio astronomy/transients, Optical or IR astronomy/transients, X-ray or gamma-ray astronomy, Statistical methods in time-series/variability analysis

Career Stage: Faculty – continuing

Position for nomination: General Member

I am an observational astronomer working on various classes of Galactic transients, with a leaning towards compact objects, through multi-wavelength observations. I have experience with telescope operations, synoptic observational campaigns, and reduction and analysis of spectral and temporal observational data from observatories operating in radio, infrared, optical, ultraviolet and X-rays. Currently, I work with data from observatories such as MeerKAT, ATCA, CTIO/SOAR, ESO/VLT, Swift, Chandra and simulated data (DP0) in preparation for the LSST at the Vera Rubin Observatory.

I also work on development and implementation of statistical methods in characterization of variability and transient behavior in time-series/lightcurves affected by issues common in astronomical data, such as uneven sampling, sparse sampling or heteroskedasticity.

Dougal Dobie, Swinburne University of Technology

Area/s of expertise: Radio astronomy/transients, Gravitational wave sources

Career Stage: Postdoc / Research Fellow (fixed term)

Position for nomination: Early Career Researcher member representative

Research background: I was awarded my PhD in 2021 for my thesis titled “Radio Follow-up of Gravitational Wave Events” and since then have been an OzGrav postdoctoral research fellow at Swinburne University of Technology. The focus of my postdoctoral research is multi-wavelength follow-up of gravitational wave events, but an interest in general transient phenomena.

I believe that my expertise in radio astronomy and background in gravitational wave follow-up will allow me to provide unique insights to the TDA steering committee as multi-wavelength and multi-messenger astronomy becomes an increasingly prominent part of time domain astronomy.

Service and Leadership: I have experience in leadership roles within large research collaborations. I am a Project Scientist for the Variables And Slow Transients survey (VAST) on the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP). Additionally, I am the co-Chair of the OzGrav Multi-Messenger Observations Program.

I also have experience representing Early Career Researchers. I am currently a member of the OzGrav ECR Committee and have previously served as a Student Representative on the Australia Telescope User Committee.

Adelle Goodwin, ICRAR – Curtin University

Area/s of expertise: Radio astronomy/transients, Optical or IR astronomy/transients, X-ray or gamma-ray astronomy, Stellar explosions/eruptions, Gravitational wave sources, Pulsar phenomena, Other variability (please explain in ‘other’), nuclear transients and tidal disruption events

Career Stage: Postdoc / Research Fellow (fixed term)

Position for nomination: General Member, Early Career Researcher member representative

I am a postdoctoral researcher at ICRAR-Curtin, having just been awarded the Forrest research fellowship to continue my research into accreting black holes. I have extensive expertise in multiwavelength follow-up of accreting compact objects, including tidal disruption events, accreting millisecond pulsars, X-ray bursts, accreting black holes, and nuclear transients such as quasi-periodic eruptions, as well as theoretical simulations of accreting neutron stars. I use many Australian instruments such as ATCA, WiFeS, ASKAP as well as many international facilities. I currently serve on the Australia Telescope User’s committee. I strongly believe that transient follow-up should be/remain openly collaborative. Transient research brings together the astronomy community due to the multiwavelength nature and I am excited to help shape the role Australia will play in transient research in the era of LSST.

Alexander Heger, Monash University

Area/s of expertise: Extrasolar planets, Solar system bodies, Stellar explosions/eruptions, Other stellar-related variability, TDE, Type I X-Ray Bursts

Career Stage: Faculty – continuing

Position for nomination: General Member

I have been the first ASA co-chair for the GAP Chapter founded 2 years ago (now Past Chair since February this year), and would like to contribute my experience from that panel to help with the start-up of the TDA Chapter.  I have been a champion for Transient Astronomy for a while, e.g., helped to put together the past CoE EOI for transient astronomy. Next to my work on massive stars and stellar explosions,including accreting neutron stars and TDEs, I recently started to work on dynamics with applications to solar system dynamics, multiple stars and exoplanets.

Natasha Hurley-Walker, Curtin University / International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research

Area/s of expertise: Radio astronomy/transients, Pulsar phenomena

Career Stage: Faculty – continuing

Position for nomination: General Member

I have over a decade of experience in radio sky surveys and have worked on a range of transient astrophysics, with publications on pulsars, FRBs, GRBs, space situational awareness, and magnetars. I discovered a new class of radio transient in image-plane radio surveys, the long-period radio transients, which were published in Nature last and this year. To follow up these sources I carried out extensive co-ordinated campaigns across radio, optical, and X-ray, working with national and international collaborators.

I have been an effective member of various committees, as well as chairing several, e.g. being co-chair of the SKA Continuum Science Working Group since 2018. I am on the steering committee for the LOFAR 2.0 Transients group as an Australian representative. I have also run multiple training workshops for radio astronomy techniques, given an invited talk at the Harley Wood school, and lectured at two of the radio schools run for ECRs and PhDs by ATNF and ICRAR, so I am ready to help organise and co-ordinate transient workshops as needed.

I am interested in making sure Australia remains at the forefront of transient discovery and exploration, particularly with the opportunities offered by the SKA and its precursors. The SKA_LOW will have a large field-of-view, critical for opening new transient discovery space. I am strongly motivated to keep the SKA open to serendipitous discoveries and can act as a bridge between the transient and SKA communities.

Nandita Khetan, University of Queensland

Area/s of expertise: Optical or IR astronomy/transients, Gravitational wave sources, Transient cosmology

Career Stage: Postdoc / Research Fellow (fixed term)

Position for nomination: General Member, Early Career Researcher member representative

My research focuses on transients—discovering, understanding, and using them for cosmology, and I am most excited to connect to the community! Hence, joining the TDA committee as a general (or an ECR) member is an amazing prospect for me which I hope to carry with a lot of commitment and enthusiasm.

After 9 years in Europe, I’ve recently moved to Australia as a postdoc at UQ. Sustaining my collaborations from Europe, the US, and building new ties here is resulting into exciting synergies. I am a member of the LSST, YSE, ENGRAVE, VIRGO (past), and soon OzGrav2: all collaborations focussed on searching, following-up and comprehending our transient sky with multi-messenger, multi-wavelength astronomy. In this role, I hope to extend international coordination with TDA via invited talks, student exchanges and expertise-sharing to increase networking and collaborating opportunities for our local astronomers. Additionally, this also aims to foster global connections for time-domain discoveries. Working between transients and cosmology, I emphasise on cross-disciplinary research and would aim to enhance in-situ collaborations as well as create diverse avenues like industry engagements.

Besides adding scientific value, I also want to bring our amazing transients to a wider audience via public talks and interviews, school interactions, young student projects, indigenous astronomy, connecting with amateur astronomers, magazine articles, media communications, art etc. all of which I have experience of organising, volunteering and participating. Also, advocating for diversity in STEM is a personal commitment I always strive for.

I believe I am well suited for this role given my research interests, my ability to forge new collaborations and connect people from various backgrounds, and create a respectful environment for my peers. Also, I am a very amicable person and would make a fun colleague to work alongside! I look very forward to joining the TDA committee. Thank you.

Eric Thrane, Monash University

Area/s of expertise: Gravitational wave sources, Pulsar phenomena, Particle astrophysics

Career Stage: Faculty – continuing

Position for nomination: General Member

I write to nominate myself for the ASA Time Domain Astronomy Steering Committee. I am a Professor at Monash University where  I conduct research in astrophysics and cosmology with a focus on gravitational waves / multi-messenger astronomy. For the past seven years, I have served as the Data Theme Leader for OzGrav, the ARC Centre of Excellence for Gravitational-Wave Discovery. In this role, I worked with people across all stages of academia, from undergraduate students to Laureate Fellows. I have significant experience with communication, coordination, and advocacy.

I am broadly knowledgeable about time-domain astronomy, and I’m passionate about growing our community in Australia. If elected, I will support the Steering Committee’s mandate to support the professional development of time-domain astronomers, promote collaborations, and build a connected/coordinated community.

Brad Tucker, ANU

Area/s of expertise: Optical or IR astronomy/transients, Stellar explosions/eruptions

Career Stage: Faculty – continuing

Position for nomination: General Member

I have been involved in a number of astronomical transient surveys – both ground and space-based. I have a specific interest in early and high-cadence observations, UV observations, and type Ia supernova and their use in distance measurements.

I have been actively involved in all aspects of these – mission and survey design, operation, data, and design of future space missions.

I’m particularly interested in making sure we make the most of our access to VRO and geographical position, promote and engage our research with the public, and collaborate across Australia as best as possible.