Steering Committee

EPOC Chair – 2-year position


EPOC Immediate Past Chair – 2-year position

Jackie Bondell

Jackie Bondell is Education and Public Outreach Coordinator for OzGrav, the ARC Centre of Excellence for Gravitational Wave Discovery, developing educational content for public outreach events and curriculum for school incursion programs, focusing on incorporating innovative technology. She designs curriculum-driven science lessons that effectively incorporate VR into student-centred activities while aligning with curriculum standards. With a passion for promoting STEM to traditionally underrepresented populations, she aspires to reach more female students as well as those in rural and regional areas of Australia. Prior to joining OzGrav, Jackie spent 15 years as a Physics instructor in the US. During her teaching career, she was the recipient of multiple teaching awards, including the National Science Teachers Association (US) Technology Award for Innovative Use of Technology in Science Teaching. She holds a Masters Degree in Astrophysics and is a National (US) Board Certified Teacher of Secondary Physical Science.

ASA Council Representative

Michael BrownMichael Brown

Associate Professor Michael Brown (@mjibrown) is an observational astronomer at Monash University’s School of Physics and Astronomy. He was inspired by astronomy as a child, when Voyager visited the outer planets and when he used his grandfather’s small telescope to look at the Moon. He now studies how galaxies form, grow and evolve over billions of years, using large-telescopes on the Earth and satellites in orbit. Michael is interested in communicating the wonders of astronomy to a broad audience, and discussing how science is relevant to more Earthly matters. Michael is a regular writer for The Conversation, and he has also written for other media including the Sydney Morning Herald and CNN online.

Student Member – 1-year position

Oliver Pye

Ollie is an MPhil candidate studying the evolution of galaxies at QUT. More specifically, Ollie investigates the impact of Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN) on galaxies and their evolution through cosmic time via Spectral Energy Distribution (SED) analysis. As well as research, Ollie also tutors first and second-year physics and engineering subjects. 
Throughout his candidature, Ollie has participated in a number of outreach programs to local schools throughout South East Queensland. He has also worked at QUT as a STEM ambassador, presenting STEM workshops to high school students and facilitating STEM-related events. Before pursuing post-graduate research, Ollie worked for the Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority developing the code to calculate Year 12 student exit scores for the newly implemented ATAR system. 

Ollie has always had a keen interest in education and outreach and hopes to contribute effectively to the EPOC committee.  

Steering Committee Member – 2-year positions

Lara Sharp


I am a science communicator with a background in chemistry, science outreach and classroom teaching. Turning science into engaging stories, either through face-to-face interactions or through written pieces, has been my profession for nearly 20 years.

My CV spans running HSC science workshops, science centre exhibition development and spectacular science shows to curriculum-linked worksheets and peer-reviewed articles across chemistry, physics, geology and, of all things, poultry science.

I feel equally comfortable in front of an audience fielding tricky questions from year sixers or designing activities for students to discover complex scientific concepts. At the moment I am applying my skills to an education and communications role with the ARC Centre of Excellence for All Sky Astrophysics in 3D.
James Murray
Bio coming soon

Danny Price

Danny Price is a Senior Postdoc at the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) in Perth, Western Australia. Danny is the Australian Project Scientist for Breakthrough Listen: the most comprehensive and rigorous search for intelligent life beyond Earth ever undertaken. Growing up in the hills of Perth, his passion for science was sparked by kid’s books about space, and staring up at the stars on clear winter nights. He received his PhD from the University of Oxford in 2013, and then worked in the US at Harvard and Berkeley, before returning to Australia in 2018. Danny has found that the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) is an amazing gateway to get people excited about science. SETI also provides the perfect platform to correct common misconceptions about aliens & space: to separate science fiction from science fact. Danny regularly gives public talks and interviews, and he particularly enjoys writing science articles for all ages.

Michael Cowley

I am a research scientist who has worked in various scientific fields, including astrophysics, lightning physics, medical physics, and physics education. I have contributed to over 30 published papers in numerous international peer-reviewed journals, which have been cited over 500 times. In addition to my research, I have a keen interest in teaching and outreach, having prepared and delivered numerous lectures, educational seminars, professional development courses, and public talks.

I completed my PhD at Macquarie University and the Australian Astronomical Observatory, where I researched The Evolutionary Impact of Supermassive Black Holes on their Host Galaxies. My undergraduate studies were performed at the Queensland University of Technology, where I achieved first-class Honours in astrophysics. My Honours thesis was on The Detection, observation and characterisation of transiting objects via the Kepler telescope. I continue my research with collaborators on TAIPAN, ZFOURGE and ZFIRE, which are extragalactic surveys tasked with studying the physical processes related to the formation and evolution of galaxies.

I am currently an adjunct lecturer at the University of Southern Queensland, a science liaison for CSIRO’s Scientists in Schools program, a member of the ASA’s Education and Public Outreach Chapter, a member of the IAU Working Group on Theory and Methods in Astronomy Education, a scientific consultant to the lighting industry, and an education content developer for Macquarie University, where I design and develop STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) modules and professional development courses for teachers. Before my academic career, I spent a little over a decade in the finance industry, working as a broker, analyst and product manager.

Yuanming Wang

Yuanming is a 3rd year PhD student at the University of Sydney, mainly working on radio transients using ASKAP. She is also interested in public outreach in a broad sense. Yuanming was a committee member of the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences Astronomy Society while in China and organised a series of outreach activities for undergraduate/graduate students. She also participated in the Science Extension project as a mentor, to help high school students finishing their projects.

Richard de Grijs

Richard de Grijs is a professor and associate dean at Macquarie University. In his precious little non-admin time, he studies stellar populations in star clusters, makes a big effort at establishing a robust distance framework in the local universe, and dabbles in the history of science, with specific emphasis on the determination of longitude at sea in the 16th to 18th centuries.

Richard moved to Macquarie Uni after an 8.5-year-long stint at Peking University in China, where he established the East Asian Office of Astronomy for Development under the auspices of the International Astronomical Union (IAU). In China, he also represented the UK’s Institute of Physics in schools’ liaison and outreach activities, in addition to his scientific ambassadorial input. Meanwhile, he was elected as Vice President of IAU Division C (Education, Outreach and Heritage), and he has been the main driver behind Australia’s bid to attract the biennial Communicating Astronomy with the Public (CAP) conference to the Macquarie campus in 2022.

On Sundays, you can usually find him as a volunteer guide at the Australian National Maritime Museum in Sydney’s Darling Harbour, which he combines with regular appearances as a lecturer at a range of events, both domestically and internationally, including during National Science Week and as a member of the Maritime Museum’s speakers group. Richard is Beijing Planetarium’s “Belt and Road” public lecturer and, perhaps surprisingly, he has a large following among Indian outreach fans.

Rob Hunt
Growing up in WA, young Rob strongly flagged his future in natural history and outreach. While contemporaries played sport and socialised, he was either studying, birdwatching, racing pigeons or watching Star Trek. Completing with high grades, a maths/physics/chem high school certificate, he turned down an offer to study medicine at UWA, in preference for applied biology at the then WA Institute of Technology (now Curtin Uni). He enjoyed his final year major project in cereal crop agronomy because it reinforced his belief that science doesn’t exist in a vacuum but is a multifaceted attempt to meld investigation of the natural world with society.
Rob is a life-long learner and translational scientist. He has completed science and education degrees and accumulated experience in volunteering and self/employment in fields as diverse as agrotechnology, space science, astronomy, micro-business, construction, manufacturing, academia, project management, expedition management, logistics, mentoring and tutoring, teaching, outreach, and much else.
While living off-grid with his partner, in the central Victorian highlands, he raised a family as a house husband; hosted stargazing nights at Ballarat Observatory; qualified as a builder; designed, drafted and built an adobe home; qualified and taught as a secondary science teacher; researched as the SE Australian agro-scientist for a multinational company; tutored maths and science; taught swimming and trades; ran a food manufacturing business and a vermiculture business; qualified in, worked in and taught at an international space science course; completed parts of post-grad degrees in computing and in land rehabilitation; and completed a Masters degree in astronomy.
In 2012, after a quick trip to Florida for a space shuttle launch, Rob moved back to Perth and immediately connected with the local astronomy and space communities. He became WA state mentor for the Academy of Technology and Engineering and also assistant engineer/tour host at the Gingin Observatory, but it was while volunteering at the Perth Observatory that he realized the powerfully rewarding payback for reaching out to all ages of non-scientists, tourists, schools and underrepresented communities, and connecting them with the natural world.
Astronomy, space and rockets are fabulous vehicles to engage an audience and translate scientific processes and concepts into a relevant, digestible smorgasbord of fun, facts and understanding. Rob’s cross-disciplinary qualifications, work experience and connections to the trades and to economics, strongly inform his language and delivery of the concepts in physical sciences. Perhaps surprising to some, Rob’s night-time SCUBA diving to explore riparian ecology, surveying wading birds on sub-tropical mangrove flats, stargazing at regional science festivals and launching water rockets at primary schools, are all entrées into physics, planetary science, stellar life cycles, cosmology, aliens, space-time, environmentalism and the human condition!
Rob’s core passion is to bridge the gap he sees between institutional physical scientists and the general population. Leveraging contemporary public fascination with astronomy and space, he is currently expanding an outreach business that uses novel locations to reach otherwise forgotten sections of the community. He is a CSIRO STEM Professional in Schools, an AstroFest committee member, and member of several astronomy, space and rocketry societies.
Most amateur astronomers like Rob face a constant credibility issue, and he believes that an obvious place to concentrate public outreach is at the interface between professional and amateur astronomers. The opportunity to be part of the ASA’s EPOC is a gift that will allow Rob to pursue his objective of raising Australians’ awareness and understanding of science.

The Fine Print

Steering Committee:

EPOC activities are overseen by a Steering Committee comprising the following members/roles:

  1. Chair
  2. An immediate past Chair (when relevant).
  3. An ASA Member chosen by the ASA Council as an ex-officio EPOC Steering Committee Member (unless an EPOC Steering Committee Member is already a member of the ASA Council).
  4. A broadly representative Steering Committee of up to six people, elected by full members of the ASA.
  5. A Student Representative elected by the student members of the ASA.
  6. A Secretary appointed from the Steering Committee (responsible for minutes of the meetings, circulation of the minutes to the membership, and organization of the elections).
  7. A Treasurer appointed from the Steering Committee (responsible for managing the income and expenditure of EPOC and for providing an annual report of such activity to the membership).

Election of Steering Committee Members:

  1. The Chair holds office for two years.
  2. Steering Committee Members will hold office for two years with staggered tenure (in the first year of operation, three Members will be elected for 1-year periods, and three Members will elected for 2-year periods).
  3. Three Members of the Steering Committee will be elected annually.
  4. The Student Representative will be elected annually.
  5. There is no limit on the number of consecutive appointments of the Chair, Steering Committee Members or Student Representative.
  6. By 1 March each year, the Chair will call for nominations for relevant Steering Committee positions.
  7. Only full members are entitled to vote in all ballots and elections of  EPOC. Student members are entitled to vote for a student representative on the steering committee. Elections will be conducted by March 15 and the result declared in time for the new Chair and Steering Committee to take up their appointments by 1 April.
  8. Election of all Steering Committee Members will be determined by the direct count of the number of votes obtained by each candidate for a given position. In the event of a tied vote the President of the ASA following consultation with the ASA Council, will have a casting vote. In the event of the President of the ASA being involved as a candidate in the tied vote, the casting vote will pass to another member of the ASA Executive, as per the ASA constitution.


  1. The Steering Committee will maintain an e-mail list of the current EPOC members.
  2. The Steering Committee undertakes to organize and run an annual open lunchtime Meeting during the ASA Annual Scientific Meeting, and other meetings when appropriate.
  3. EPOC will establish and maintain a website that encourages dissemination of relevant information relating to astronomy education and public outreach opportunities, including the publication of Members Reports.
  4. From time to time, EPOC will produce Factsheets on topics of current astronomical interest of particular relevance to Australia.  The Steering Committee will appoint one of its members to coordinate the development of Factsheets, which encompasses collating submissions and sending out for comments, additions, and amendments as required. Topics for Factsheets will be invited from the EPOC membership, under the proviso that a Member proposing a Factsheet is also able to write the Factsheet or can nominate an appropriate author.
    Follow this link for the Factsheets.
  5. EPOC will run other activities as approved by the Steering Committee.


  1. The Steering Committee will hold a minimum of two meetings per year, ideally in Feb/Mar and Nov/Dec.
  2. It is the role of the Chair (or nominated representative) to organize the date of each meeting and to request agenda items.
  3. At least two working days prior to the Meeting the Chair (or nominated representative) will distribute the Agenda to Steering Committee members.
  4. Minutes will be taken by a nominated representative and provided to Steering Committee Members as soon as possible following the Meeting.  A copy of the Minutes will be provided to the ASA Council, and will be made available to EPOC members via the EPOC e-mail list and on the EPOC website.
  5. The Chair will normally act as Chair of the Steering Committee Meeting, however, if the Chair is not able to attend in person, a nominated representative may act as Chair.
  6. Whenever possible, Steering Committee Meetings will be held at a location in a capital city that has teleconference facilities, however, virtual involvement (via Skype, teleconference, or other method) will be accepted and encouraged.


  1. The Chair will provide a brief report describing EPOC activities to Secretary of ASA Council, if possible, at least one week before each Council meeting.
  2. The Steering Committee will solicit regular Reports from Members, which will be published on the EPOC website.