Professor Lisa Harvey-Smith

Professor Lisa Harvey-Smith

Australia’s Women in STEM Ambassador

Early years

Lisa Harvey-Smith was born in Essex, England. She left school at the age of 11 and taught herself at home, where she developed a great passion for astronomy. She joined her local amateur astronomical society in 1992, where she first learned to use a telescope and never looked back. Her early space heroes included Patrick Moore and Britain’s first astronaut Helen Sharman.

Astronomy career

Lisa earned a Masters degree in Physics with Honours in Astronomy & Astrophysics from the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne and a Ph.D. in Radio Astronomy from Jodrell Bank Observatory at the University of Manchester, before embarking on a professional career in astronomy. A two-month research project at the Max-Planck-Institute for Radio Astronomy in Germany was followed by a two-year stint as a researcher at The Joint Institute for Very Long Baseline Interferometry in Europe (JIVE) in the Netherlands. She finally moved to Australia, where she has been based for over a decade.

Lisa has spent much of her career working to maintain and develop professional astronomical observatories. She was formerly the project scientist for the $188M Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder telescope at CSIRO and led a group of 30 scientists at Australia’s radio telescope national facility. She retains an active program of research, alongside her three PhD students, and has published more than 40 refereed scientific papers on topics as varied as the birth and death of stars, cosmic magnetic fields and supermassive black holes. She serves on several scientific advisory committees including the advisory group to the Australian Space Agency.

Lisa is now the Australian Government’s Women in STEM Ambassador and a Professor at the University of New South Wales. She works on a national scale to drive gender equity in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics education and careers. For more information visit the Australian Government Women in STEM Ambassador’s website.

Public Understanding of Science

Harvey-Smith is a presenter on the popular ABC television show ABC Stargazing Live. She has appeared as a guest on numerous shows including BBC Stargazing Live, Brian Cox: Life Of A Universe and Todd Sampson’s Life on the Line. She is a regular fielding science questions on radio phone-in shows including science hour with Dr. Karl on ABC Triple J and BBC Radio 5 Live. She is a prolific and talented speaker and has given keynotes at countless major conferences and events including TEDx Melbourne, SXSW in Austin, Texas, the World Science Festival in Brisbane and the Sydney Science Festival. She recently hosted the Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science at Australian Parliament House.

Lisa’s first popular science book “When Galaxies Collide” is in bookstores and her first children’s book “Under the Stars: Astrophysics for Bedtime” will launch in October 2019. She was also a contributing author of Patrick Moore’s Yearbook of Astronomy 2016 (Pan Macmillan). She has given more than 150 interviews on television, radio and in the press. Lisa presented her own astronomy show called ‘When Galaxies Collide’ in major cities across Australia in 2018. She appeared live on stage to sold-out theatres across Australia in Buzz Aldrin: Mission to Mars and Gene Cernan: Last Man on the Moon, presented by Live on Stage Australia and An Audience with Neil deGrasse Tyson, presented by Think Inc. Lisa was named in the Sydney Morning Herald’s 100 Most Influential People in 2012 and won both the CSIRO Chairman’s medal and the Eureka Prize for Promoting Understanding of Australian Science Research in 2017.