Dr Sarah Sweet

"The more we know, the more we know we don’t really know much at all."


Why did you study physics?

UQ is the only university that offers postgraduate astrophysics programs in Queensland. It is one of the smaller astrophysics groups in the country, but is well-regarded – for example, its ERA score of 5 equals some of the top institutions globally.


What was the best part of your studies?

My PhD gave me experience in all of the duties I perform in my current job, meaning that I had skills that were transferable to this job. Equally importantly, I had worked with other researchers in my field, so was known to most of my potential employers before commencing the job search.


What kind of things do you do in your current job?

We know that galaxies in the past were very compact, while galaxies today are quite large and puffy. We don’t yet know how they expand in size: whether by attracting many small galaxies to their outskirts, or by forming new stars throughout and puffing up uniformly.

I am taking images with a new camera on Gemini South in Chile, one of the world’s largest optical telescopes, to take snapshots of galaxies at different epochs in time. This will allow me to measure which mechanism is responsible for the galaxies’ dramatic increase in size.

My duties include writing proposals to secure telescope time, conducting the observations, processing and analysing the data, publishing papers, and attending and presenting at conferences.


What advice would you give to anyone starting their career?

Study a topic that you love. For research, find a supervisor with whom you can work well.

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Dr Sarah Sweet

Dr Sarah Sweet

Job title
Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Australian National University

Bachelors of Science (Mathematics) / Business Management
Bachelor of Science (Honours) (Astrophysics)
Graduate Certificate in Research Commercialisation

Profile published 2016

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