The Astralis Instrumentation Consortium (Astralis), previously known as the Australian Astronomical Optics Consortium, was formally established in June 2018. The Board provides representation and input from the broader Australian astronomy community, ensuring that Astralis’ strategy and activities are closely aligned with the interests of the national effort in astronomy.

Governance info

The governance structure of Astralis is illustrated below as specified in the Consortium Agreement. Members of each node report to the Director of that node. The Directors report to the Board via the Management Committee as specified in the Consortium Agreement. The Astralis Board may appoint advisory committees to assist it with the performance of its responsibilities as determined by the Astralis Board. Advisories have no decision-making authority.

Astralis Governance Structure

Board members

Overall advice on the strategic direction of Astralis is provided by the Astralis Board. The Board has the responsibility to review and approve the annual business plan, strategic plans, and reports. The Board will also appoint the technical review committee and industry advisory cluster when required.

The Board consists of one voting member appointed by each of Astronomy Australia Ltd, Macquarie University, Australian National University and the University of Sydney, three independent members with experience in astronomy or industry connections, and an independent observer from the Commonwealth Department of Industry, Innovation and Science.

Prof. Michael Steel – Interim Chair;MQ Nominee

Prof. Michael Steel is the Head of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Macquarie University in Sydney. He is an optical physicist with interests in nonlinear optics, quantum optics and integrated photonics who joined Macquarie in 2007 after seven years in the photonic design software industry.

His current research is focused on opto-acoustic interactions in nonlinear waveguides with applications in sensing, microwave communications in one-way optical systems. He is a council member of the Australian and New Zealand Optical Society. In 2017 Mike led Macquarie’s role in the AAO Consortium bid and served as the interim Director of AAO-MQ from its establishment in July 2018 until the appointment of the permanent Director Prof. Mark Casali in April 2019. In 2018-2019 he led the Department of Physics and Astronomy in securing a major upgrade of the Macquarie University Astronomical Observatory which is now one of the finest on-campus observatories in the country.

Prof. Matthew Colless – ANU Nominee


Prof. Matthew Colless is Director of the Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the Australian National University. He was previously the Director of the Australian Astronomical Observatory. He obtained his BSc at Sydney, his PhD at Cambridge, and has held positions at Durham, Kitt Peak and Cambridge. His research uses large redshift and peculiar velocity surveys of galaxies to understand their evolution and the large-scale structures they form, and to measure cosmological parameters.

He is currently leading the Taipan survey, which is using Starbug fibre positioner technology to measure the Hubble constant with 1% precision and test theories of gravity. He led the OzPoz fibre positioner project for the Fibre Large Array Multi Element Spectrograph (FLAMES) instrument for the Very Large Telescope (VLT) array and is leading the design of the Many-instrument Fibre system (MANIFEST) for the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT).

Prof. Colless is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, an ISI Citation Laureate, a member of the European Southern Observatory (ESO) Council, the ANU Founders’ representative for the GMT project, and a former Vice-President of the International Astronomical Union.

Prof. Jonathan Bland-Hawthorn – USyd Nominee


Prof. Bland-Hawthorn is an Australian Research Council Laureate Fellow, Professor of Physics and Director of the Sydney Institute for Astronomy in USyd’s School of Physics.

He joined the Australian Astronomical Observatory in 1993. He was awarded the prestigious Federation Fellowship with a tenured professorship in SIFA in 2007. He co-founded the Institute of Photonics and Optical Science and was elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science and the Optical Society of America.

He has won numerous awards and serves on several boards including Section H of the International Astronomical Union and the Annual Reviews of Astronomy and Astrophysics (USA).

Prof. Karl Glazebrook – AAL Nominee

BSc(Hons), PhD, FASA, FAA

Prof. Karl Glazebrook is a Distinguished Professor at Swinburne University of Technology, Australian Research Council Laureate Fellow and former Director of the Centre for Astrophysics & Supercomputing.  His career has spanned the U.K., U.S. and Australia including Professorships at Johns Hopkins University and Swinburne and the award of a prestigious Packard Fellowship. His most notable scientific accomplishments are the study of the morphological and spectroscopic evolution of galaxies across cosmic time using Gemini, Hubble and Keck telescopes, the development of the ‘nod and shuffle’ spectroscopic technique, and characterising the bimodal colour and environmental distributions of local galaxies. He has also led development and implementation through galaxy surveys of innovative cosmological techniques such as ‘Baryonic Acoustic Oscillations’. He has been an official ISI “Highly Cited Researcher” and has won the Muhlmann Award for his work on instrumentation. He was elected to the Australian Academy of Science for his research accomplishments in May 2017 and has been a member of the Australian Research Council College of Experts.  He has also served as Chair of the International Facilities Working Group of the Australian Astronomy Decadal 2016-2025 Plan and on the Keck Scientific Steering Committee, the Gemini Science and Technology Advisory Committee and the GMT Instrument Development Advisory Committee.

Dr. Steve Frisken – Independent


Steve is an inventor and entrepreneur with a thirty-year career in photonic innovations and start-ups. He founded Photonic Technologies (acquired by Nortel), Engana (acquired by Finisar) and then Cylite in 2013.

He is currently the CEO of Cylite, recipient of the 2020 Sir William Hudson Engineering Excellence prize for the development of Ophthalmic 3D Imaging employing Hyperparallel Optical Coherence Tomography. His other research interests include Hyperspectral microscopy and Holoscopy. He is a prolific inventor, with 43 granted US patents in Optics including the invention of the Dynamic Wavelength Processor, a telecom networking product that enabled flexible wavelength reconfiguration of the global optical internet and has generated more than $1 billion in revenue.

Steve was awarded the ATSE Clunies Ross Medal in 2013 in recognition of his success in the development and commercialisation of novel optical technologies. Steve Frisken has a PhD in theoretical physics and is also the recipient of the OSA Richardson Medal and the 2018 Australian Prime Ministers Innovation Prize.

Dr. Katherine Woodthorpe – Independent


Dr Katherine Woodthorpe AO is an experienced Chair and Non-Executive Director serving for 20 years on the boards of a variety of organisations including listed entities, government boards and for-purpose organisations.

She has a strong track record in a broad range of innovation-dependent industries including healthcare, renewable energy and environmental and climate science.  She has been cited in various media as one of Australia’s most influential people in innovation.  Katherine has a BSc (1st Class Hons) from Manchester University and PhD in Chemistry, is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (and President of their NSW Council), and was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Technology Sydney.

She was cited in the Australian Financial Review as one of the 2013 “100 Women of Influence” and is a Fellow of the Academy of Technology and Engineering. In 2017 she was appointed an Officer in the Order of Australia.

Mrs. Jacqueline Cooke – DISER Observer

Mrs Jacqueline Cooke joined the then Department of Industry, Innovation, Science and Research when it was formed in 2008, working on the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy program, with a focus on e-research infrastructure and data repositories. Prior to this Jacqueline worked in Broadcasting Policy roles in the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts. In recent years Ms Cooke has worked across the department in a range of sectoral areas primarily relating to the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), Industry Innovation Precincts, Cooperative Research Centre policy, Entrepreneurs’ Program policy, commercialisation and collaboration policy, and incubator and start-up policy. Jacqueline has recently returned to work on the SKA and also has responsibility for the Department’s engagement and programs in optical astronomy.

Fellow abbreviations

  • FTSE: Fellows of the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering
  • FAICD: Fellows of the Australian Institute of Company Directors
  • FAA: Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science
  • FRAS: Honorary Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society
  • FAAAS: Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • FOSA: Fellow of the Optical Society
  • FAIP: Fellow of the Australian Institute of Physics
  • FASA:Fellow of the Astronomical Society of Australia