Dr Natasha Hurley-Walker
When we look out into the Universe, we learn a tremendous amount about how it works, and where things come from. If we only used our eyes to observe, we’d never know this, but fortunately we have telescopes that allow us to see every detail of the Universe. The field that Dr Hurley-Walker works in is called radio astronomy: she uses radio telescopes to look out into the universe and pick up radio waves. She helped to commission the Murchison Widefield Array, and over three years, has used it to construct a model of the entire low-frequency radio sky of the southern sky, the GaLactic and Extragalactic All-sky MWA survey (GLEAM).
The GLEAM survey the Natasha recently completed, was observed over such a wide radio bandwidth, that it is the first ever “radio colour” survey: the colours in it tell physicists exactly what kind of physical processes are going on in the distant astronomical objects. This has given her many opportunities to speak to public audiences. She gave the opening talk at TEDx Perth 2016, and the closing talk at Astrofest 2017, as well as a host of other public talks. She has also created a viewer for the survey (http://gleamoscope.icrar.org/) and a mobile phone app, so anyone on the planet could see our colourful radio sky.