The University of Western Australia

UWA Staff Profile

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Peter Quinn

Professor Peter Quinn

Executive Director
Radio Astronomy Research, International Centre for (ICRAR)

Contact details
International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR)
The University of Western Australia (M468)
35 Stirling Highway
+61 8 6488 4553
Room 2.52, 7 Fairway, Crawley
BSc W'gong, PhD ANU, FASA
Prof. Peter Quinn was born in Australia and received his BSc(Hons) in Mathematics and Physics from the University of Wollongong in 1978 where he received the University Medal in Physics. He conducted graduate studies in astronomy and astrophysics at the Australian National University and received his PhD in 1982 with a thesis dissertation on dynamics of disk galaxy mergers. His discovery of the structure and dynamics of galactic shells was highlighted in the Making of the Australian National University 1946-1996 as a major contribution to international astronomical research. During postdoctoral appointments in Theoretical Astrophysics at the California Institute of Technology (1982-1985) and the Space Telescope Science Institute (1985-1989) Prof. Quinn pursued his research interests in galaxy formation and dynamics, cosmology and dark matter using supercomputing facilities at Los Alamos National Laboratory and the Pittsburgh Supercomputer Centre. This work discovered the Quinn-Goodman effect for angular momentum dependent galactic accretion. In 1989, Prof. Quinn took up a Research Fellowship in the Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics at ANU to lead the Australian involvement in the MACHO Dark Matter Search Project. The MACHO project took the front cover of Nature with the first microlensing evidence of baryonic dark matter in 1991. His work on computational astrophysics was awarded a NASA High Performance Computing and Communications Grand Challenge Award in 1992. In 1995, Prof. Quinn accepted a position as Division Head of the newly formed Data Management and Operations Division at the European Southern Observatory headquarters in Munich. While at ESO, Prof. Quinn lead the efforts to design, implement and operate an end-to-end science data flow system for the ESO Very Large Telescope (VLT), the world’s largest optical and infrared observatory. This work was awarded a Computerworld 21st Century Achievement Award for Science in June 2005. During his time at ESO, Prof. Quinn directed the FP-5 Astrophysical Virtual Observatory (AVO) project, helped lay the foundations for the International Virtual Observatory Alliance and coordinated the formation of the EURO-VO as a program to realize VO-enable science for Europe. In December 2005, Prof. Quinn was awarded a Western Australian Premier’s Fellowship and took up the position of Professor of Astronomy at the University of Western Australia in August 2006.
Key research
Prof. Quinn's research focuses on the formation and evolution of galaxies using supercomputer computations and simulations. In particular, he is working on the nature of Dark Matter, the formation and evolution of Dark Matter around galaxies and its influence on the galaxy formation process. His interests include galaxy internal dynamics and galaxy interactions/mergers, dissipationless collapse and phase mixing, disk and bulge formation, the connection between galactic nuclear activity and Hubble type and the detailed baryonic and non-baryonic processes occurring during the Epoch of Reionization. Prof. Quinn's ultimate aim is to develop a useable theory of galaxy formation based on the insights gained from detailed modelling and state-of-the art observations in the opitcal/IR and radio. He is also interested in challenges associated with large-scale data intensive and computationally science, in particular the concept of a Virtual Observatory and research using large digital astronomical archives.
90+ Refereed Journals, 90+ conference proceeds, books.
Roles, responsibilities and expertise
International Virtual Observatory Alliance.
Future research
Epoch of Reionization. Cosmology of the dark ages. Evolution of HI during galaxy formation.
Funding received
Premier's Fellowship.
Industrial relevance
Planning and implementation of large-scale and international research infrastructures.
English (mother tongue)
German (poor)
Fellow, Astronomical Society of Australia.
Honours and awards
In December 2005, Prof. Quinn was awarded a Western Australian Premier’s Fellowship.

University Medal in Physics, UWoll, 1978
U.Cal Physical Science Achievement Award 1993
Computerworld Honors 21st Century Achievement Award 2005
Previous positions
Head, Data Management and Operations Division, European Southern Observtory, Munich, Germany.
Current external positions
Member, Western Australian Radio Astronomy Committee.

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Last updated:
Tuesday, 3 November, 2015 2:39 PM