ASAC Members

  • Richard McDermid, Macquarie (Chair)
  • Luca Cortese, UWA (Deputy Chair)
  • Julia Bryant, University of Sydney
  • Andy Casey, Monash
  • Cullan Howlett, University of Queensland
  • Minh Huynh, CSIRO
  • Claudia Lagos, UWA
  • Geraint Lewis, University of Sydney
  • Simon Stevenson, Swinburne
  • Cathryn Trott, AAL Board
  • Rachel Webster, University of Melbourne
  • Tayyaba Zafar, Macquarie 


The AAL Science Advisory Committee (ASAC) is appointed by the AAL Board to consider the suite of Australia’s national telescopes and computing facilities (including the Australian share of international facilities) and assess whether they, both individually and in combination, cater for the needs of the Australian community in addressing the key science questions of the Decadal plan for Australian astronomy (2016-2025).

This advisory committee may be asked specific questions by the AAL Board but also has a remit to provide overview advice on developments in astronomy and their relation to the Decadal Plan. The six key science questions from the Decadal plan are as follows:

  1. How did the first stars and galaxies transform the Universe?
  2. What is the nature of dark matter and dark energy?
  3. How do galaxies form and evolve across cosmic time?
  4. How do stars and planets form?
  5. How are elements produced by stars and recycled through galaxies?
  6. What is the nature of matter and gravity at extreme densities?

ASAC is also expected to:

  • Advise on how to leverage Australian capabilities to maximise participation and collaboration in, and benefits from, astronomy infrastructure projects of national significance.
  • Keep the Board appraised of global developments in major telescope facilities, astrophysical experiments and computing infrastructure, and provide it with strategic advice accordingly.
  • Advise the Board on the strategic alignment of new project proposals with the Decadal Plan, and on their prospective scientific return on investment.
Terms of reference

ASAC meets four times per year, with at least two meetings taking place in person, where possible, and the rest online via video conferencing. When seeking new members for ASAC, AAL looks for astronomers from a broad range of scientific and technical fields, with diversity across the full breadth of Australian astronomy, including (but not limited to): observing techniques and wavelength regimes, observation, theory and eResearch.

Members of ASAC are appointed by the AAL Board via an application process (organised by AAL) and are installed for a two-year fixed term, with the possibility of renewal. In addition:

  • ASAC has a maximum of 12 members (including the Chair and ex-officio members). The AAL Board may choose to include ex-officio (non-voting) positions for multi-directional strategy and information sharing purposes. An AAL Board member sits on the committee in an ex-officio (non-voting) capacity.
  • AAL is responsible for appointing Chair and Deputy Chair positions on the committee.
  • AAL aims for institutional, geographical, career stage and gender diversity across its advisory committees.