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 Council 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).

EPOC 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.


EPOC Immediate Past Chair – 2-year position

Michael Fitzgerald
MFitzMugshotI am an ARC DECRA Research Fellow in the Edith Cowan Institute for Education Research at Edith Cowan University, Perth. My research actively examines how external projects, such as those focused on creating educational change in the science classroom, fail or succeed and investigates the reasons why.  I also focus on the creation, design and evaluation of educational approaches, materials and projects. In support of this, I am Chief Editor of the IAU astroEDU activity repository. I am Director of a high‐school level astronomy education program (“Our Solar Siblings”) providing training, materials and support to teachers and students accessing the LCOGT network ( This project explores how students’ beliefs, attitudes and understandings of the nature of science can potentially be shifted positively through inquiry‐based interdisciplinary and authentic in‐class experiences. I also undertake my own astronomy research surrounding stellar clusters and variable stars, usually partnered with students. I enjoy collaborating with a number of artists on projects on the intersection of art and astronomy.

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.

Steering Committee Member – 2-year positions



James Murray
Bio coming soon
Kirsten Gottschalk Kirsten is the Astronomy Ambassador at the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research, which means she gets to do a lot of fun things like talk about the Square Kilometre Array, run big public events like the Perth Astrofest and share her excitement and enthusiasm for all things astronomy. She studied astronomy first, but then quickly realised she preferred talking about it rather than doing it, so she moved on to study a masters in science communication and is now also a qualified secondary physics and maths teacher.
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.

Saeed Salimpour
Saeed Salimpour has a background in Physics focusing on Astronomy/Astrophysics & Fluid physics, Design, Photography & Multimedia, and currently a PhD candidate researching Astronomy Education, with a focus on Cosmology Education, Data Visualisation, VR/AR and the interface between Science and Art.


Saeed has spent the better part of a decade making fundamental physics and astronomy accessible to everyone, irrespective of their background. He regularly appears on various radio stations, and gives talks to schools and community groups across regional Victoria. He also mentors students who want to undertake independent research projects in Astronomy.

His goal has been to find new ways of simplifying some of the complex concepts in science and presenting current research to a non-technical audience, whilst working at the interface of science, art and education. He believes in “being curious for the sake of finding things out!”.

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.

Student Member – 1-year position


Jake Clark
Hi I’m Jake and my definition of a ‘day job’ is discovering alien worlds that no human has laid eyes upon before – pretty rad, right!? Based at the University of Southern Queensland’s Toowoomba campus, my PhD research is using machine learning and chemical abundances of stars to help predict what stars host exoplanets, and in particular stars that are currently being observed by NASA’s new planet finding mission, TESS.


Other research interests involve directly hunting for exoplanets using Queensland’s very own planet finding telescope array MinERVA-Australis, re-calibrating the orbital parameters of known planetary systems and determining the chemical and geological composition of large rocky and small gassy worlds known as super-Earths.

During the spare time I do have, I’m a freelance science communicator informing and empowering everyday Australians about the importance (and fun!) of STEM. The usual suspect activities I’m involved with include: facilitating hands-on workshops in schools, running public observing nights in the Darling Downs, talking science on community radio and curating engaging media articles about the latest astronomical discoveries.

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.