Speaker Profile

Prof. Lisa Harvey-Smith

Astrophysicist, the Australian Government’s Women in STEM Ambassador and a Professor of Practice in Science Communication at UNSW
Presenting remotely


Professor Lisa Harvey-Smith is an astrophysicist, the Australian Government’s Women in STEM Ambassador and a Professor of Practice in Science Communication at UNSW. Her role is to increase the participation of women and girls in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) studies and careers in Australia by driving systemic and cultural change.

Research: Her research interests include the birth and death of stars, astrophysical molecular spectroscopy, cosmic magnetic fields and supermassive black holes. Professor Harvey-Smith serves on the Australian Space Agency’s Advisory Board and previously served as a project scientist for the Square Kilometre Array – a next-generation radio telescope that will survey billions of years of cosmic history. She is author of the popular science books When Galaxies Collide, The Secret Life of Stars, Under the Stars: Astrophysics for Bedtime. Her latest children’s book on astrobiology, called Aliens and Other Worlds, launches in October 2021.

Early years: Lisa Harvey-Smith was born in Essex, England. She left school at the age of 11 and taught herself at home, where she developed a great passion for astronomy. She joined her local amateur astronomical society in 1992, Braintree Astronomical Society, where she first learned to use a telescope. Her early space heroes included Patrick Moore and Britain's first astronaut Helen Sharman.

Astronomy career: Lisa earned a Masters degree in Physics with Honours in Astronomy & Astrophysics from the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne and a Ph.D. in Radio Astronomy from Jodrell Bank Observatory at the University of Manchester, before embarking on a professional career in astronomy. A two-month research project at the Max-Planck-Institute for Radio Astronomy in Germany was followed by a two-year stint as a researcher at The Joint Institute for Very Long Baseline Interferometry in Europe (JIVE) in the Netherlands. She finally moved to Australia, where she has been based for over a decade.

Lisa has spent much of her career working to maintain and develop professional astronomical observatories. She was formerly the project scientist for the $188M Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder telescope at CSIRO and led a group of 30 scientists at Australia's radio telescope national facility. She retains an active program of research, alongside her PhD students, and has published more than 50 peer-reviewed scientific papers on topics as varied as the birth and death of stars, cosmic magnetic fields and supermassive black holes. She serves on several scientific advisory committees including the advisory group to the Australian Space Agency and the Questacon board.

Lisa is the Australian Government's Women in STEM Ambassador and a Professor of Practice at the University of New South Wales. She works to drive gender equity in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics education and careers on a national scale. For more information visit the Australian Government Women in STEM Ambassador's website.

Public Understanding of Science: Harvey-Smith is a presenter on the popular ABC television show ABC Stargazing Live. She has appeared as a guest on numerous shows including BBC Stargazing Live, Brian Cox: Life Of A Universe and Todd Sampson's Life on the Line. She is a regular fielding science questions on radio phone-in shows including science hour with Dr. Karl on ABC Triple J and BBC Radio 5 Live. She is a prolific and talented speaker and has given keynotes at countless major conferences and events including the National Press Club address, TEDx Melbourne, SXSW in Austin, Texas, the World Science Festival in Brisbane and the Sydney Science Festival. In 2018 she hosted the Prime Minister's Prizes for Science at Australian Parliament House.

Lisa has published five popular science books When Galaxies Collide and The Secret Life of Stars for adults and children's books Under the Stars: Astrophysics for Bedtime (winner of the Singapore Book Awards Best Education Title 2021), Little Book, BIG Universe and Aliens and Other Worlds. Lisa was also a contributing author to Patrick Moore's Yearbook of Astronomy 2016 (Pan Macmillan) and The Best Australian Science Writing 2019 (New South Publishing). She has given hundreds of interviews on television, radio and in the press. Lisa presented her own astronomy show called 'When Galaxies Collide' in major cities across Australia in 2018. She appeared live on stage to sold-out theatres across Australia in Buzz Aldrin: Mission to Mars and Gene Cernan: Last Man on the Moon, presented by Live on Stage Australia and An Audience with Neil deGrasse Tyson, presented by Think Inc. Lisa was named in the Sydney Morning Herald's 100 Most Influential People in 2012 and won both the CSIRO Chairman's medal and the Eureka Prize for Promoting Understanding of Australian Science Research in 2017.


Prof Harvey-Smith will present remotely on Thursday 26 May 2022 in the session 'Future and Emerging Trends'

Presentation title: Future trends in space and spatial (presenting remotely)

Australia's space capability is booming, with a national goal of trebling the industry and creating up to 20,000 new jobs by 2030. Recent injections of research and development funding is building our national capability. The Australian Space Agency is coordinating civil space activities and global collaborations to boost the sector. In this talk, astrophysicist and Australian Space Agency Advisory Board member, Professor Lisa Harvey-Smith, will highlight emerging opportunities in geospatial technologies and Earth observation. From GIS on the Moon and Mars to sovereign capabilities to track our changing climate, geospatial technologies will be at the forefront of this revolution.

Subscribe for conference updates

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.