Pioneering astrophysicist Professor Matthew Bailes has been recognised for his outstanding contributions to science by being elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science.
Professor Bailes has specialised in the study of pulsars, fast radio bursts and gravitation, making major contributions to establishing Australia’s high international profile in these areas.
In particular, he has played a pivotal role in the development of a new branch of astrophysics, Fast Radio Bursts, developing pioneering instrumentation and software that led to Australia’s early dominance of the field.
Professor Bailes has been central in putting Swinburne University of Technology at the cutting-edge of astrophysics.
Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing
In 1998 he established Swinburne’s Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing, recognised internationally as a centre for astrophysics and virtual-reality content for public outreach.
The centre hosts one of Australia’s most powerful supercomputers and has developed 3D virtual reality films for its custom 3D theatres and IMAX.
The centre has graduated over 100 PhDs and pioneered online education via Swinburne Astronomy Online, but also worked with many school children for work experience and virtual tours of the Universe in their custom 3D theatre.
ARC Centre for Excellence for Gravitational Wave Discovery
In 2016 Professor Bailes was appointed the Director of the Australian Research Council Centre for Excellence for Gravitational Wave Discovery (OzGrav). Hosted at Swinburne OzGrav is a worldwide collaboration that aims to understand the extreme physics of black holes and warped space time.
Professor Bailes was named among 22 outstanding researchers from across the breadth of Australian science as a Fellow of the Academy.
Upon hearing the news of his election Professor Bailes said: “I’ve always had a burning desire to understand how the Universe works and want to thank my mentors, staff, collaborators and students for enabling the discoveries I’ve been involved with.”
He nominated the discovery of the Fast Radio Bursts as his career highlight. “I couldn't sleep the night after the first one was discovered because it seemed too good to be true! Fortunately, it was true.”
Incoming President of the Australian Academy of Science Professor Chennupati Jagadish AC, congratulated the new Fellows for their contributions to science.
“Fellows of the Australian Academy of Science are among the nation’s most distinguished scientists, elected by their peers for ground-breaking research and contributions that have had clear impact,” Professor Jagadish says.
“We reflect a diverse and inclusive science community that recognises the widest range of talents, backgrounds, perspectives and experiences, and we are united by our contribution and commitment to scientific excellence.”