Walsh completed a PhD in Astrophysics at UNSW in 1997.
morning as I walk from the dome of the Amundsen-Scott South Pole
station to the observatory where I work, a few hundred meters
away on the other side of the world, I try to do three things.
First I try to decide how to spend my day, as every day running
a sub-millimetre radiotelescope demands its own agenda. Second,
I look around at the changing expanses of drifting snow, gently
flowing ice "rivers" and peculiar skies that I've only
ever seen here in the middle of the Antarctic plateau. If the
winds are strong enough, they scatter ice into the air, which
forms strange rainbow rings, arcs and patterns around the sun.
Third, walking through this crystal mist at perhaps –60oC
windchill, I try to ensure that no skin gets frostbitten, that
no body parts freeze off.
got me here was my postdoctoral appointment at the Harvard Smithsonian
Center for Astrophysics, where I will spend two years in addition
to my year at the South Pole. Previous to living in Boston, I
spent nearly four years in Bonn, Germany, working at the Max Planck
Institute for Radioastronomy, and one year teaching at Charles
University in Prague. Learning the radioastronomy trade has involved
using over a dozen telescopes in Australia, various countries
in Europe, the USA and Chile. All this was made possible by my
PhD studies (on the problem of dark matter in galaxies) that I
completed at the Department of Astrophysics, using the world class
research facilities of UNSW and the Australia Telescope National
Now, for the
next year, I have responsibility for a telescope that is unique
in the world for its ability to explore the sub-millimetre sky.
The challenge of running this project, the experience of living
here, and the thrill of the prospect of what new discoveries might
come out of my research here, are things that no amount of money
– and no other degree course - can buy.