Sarah Sweet

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

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

Astrophysicist Sarah Sweet spends her nights gazing up at the vast sky, discovering how galaxies work.

“We know that galaxies in the past were very compact, while galaxies today are quite large and puffy,” she says.

“But 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.”

After she completed her PhD in astrophysics at UQ, Sarah secured a position as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow with the Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the Australian National University.

“My job is really exciting, there is always something new to discover!” she says.

“It feels like the more we know, the more we realise we really don’t know much at all.”

In her role Sarah is responsible for writing proposals to secure time using the telescope, conducting observations, processing and analysing data, publishing papers and attending and presenting at conferences.

“Currently 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,” she says.

“This will allow me to measure which mechanism is responsible for the galaxies’ dramatic increase in size.”

Commencing her studies at UQ with a combined Business and Science degree, Sarah soon realised that her real passion lay in the stars.

She completed her Honours project with the astrophysics group at UQ which then led to her  PhD topic.

Sarah chose to study at UQ because of -its’ strong reputation, both domestically and internationally.

“UQ is one of the smaller astrophysics groups in the country, but is very well-regarded,” she says.

“During my studies I was given the opportunity to work with other researchers in my field, so by the time I was ready to start job hunting I had already formed strong relationships with most of my potential employers.”

These research connections, combined with the practical skills she learnt at UQ, meant she had no problem finding a job after completing her studies.

“Gaining my PhD from UQ enabled me to develop –as  an independent researcher,” she says.

“By the time I graduated I was confident in writing my own proposals, planning and conducting observations, presenting my research findings at international conferences and  using my initiative.“This was all thanks to the advice and encouragement from my supervisor and colleagues in the UQ Astro Group.”