Guest Speakers





David Moriarty


8th – 13th December


Jonti Horner

Professor (Astrophysics), University of Southern Queensland

13th – 16th December


David Moriarty

8th – 13th December

After graduating with Honours in Agricultural Biochemistry in 1966, David studied microbial biochemistry for his Ph.D. at the University of Adelaide. The project concerned electron transfer during the oxidation of sulphide by thiobacilli. The thiobacilli are chemoautotrophic, that is, they make their own organic food from carbon dioxide with energy released by the transfer of electrons. A similar process was used by the very first bacteria that evolved on the Earth about 4 billion years ago. David’s career has been in the field of aquatic microbial ecology. He worked in Uganda on the role of blue-green algae with a Royal Society team studying the productivity of Lake George. He returned to Australia as a Queens Fellow in Marine Science at UQ, and then joined CSIRO to investigate the ecology of bacteria in marine ecosystems. This led to the development of probiotics using natural bacteria to control water quality and disease in aquaculture instead of antibiotics.

He was awarded a D.Sc. by the University of Adelaide and was made a Fellow of the Australian Society for Microbiology in 1991. He was an Honorary Professor in the UQ Centre for Marine Science for 15 years.

Astronomy has been a life-long interest. He has established an observatory near Stanthorpe — a dark sky site at 750 m altitude south west of Brisbane. Since 2011, he has been collaborating on research projects with members of the Variable Stars section of the Royal Astronomical Society of NZ. He has published papers in the Journal of the American Association of Variable Star Observers. His research field now is photometry, spectroscopy and astrophysical modelling of eclipsing binary stars. He has been an Honorary Senior Fellow in the UQ School of Mathematics and Physics with the Astrophysics group since 2014. He has been operating the ANU 2.3m telescope, the second largest at Australia’s national Siding Spring Observatory for past 3 years (2016-2018). He has been a member of the Astronomical Association of Queensland since 1982.

Professor Jonti Horner (Astrophysics), University of Southern Queensland

13th – 16th December

Professor Jonti Horner is an astronomer and astrobiologist at the University of Southern Queensland. He first became interested in astronomy at the age of five, and has been hooked ever since. After spending his youth observing the night sky, and going to lectures at his local astronomical society, Jonti went to the University of Durham, where he spent four years studying towards a Masters' degree in Physics and Astronomy. He then moved to the University of Oxford, where he obtained his doctorate for a thesis entitled 'The Behaviour of Small Bodies in the Outer Solar System.'. Once his studies were complete, he moved to the University of Bern, in Switzerland, where he spent three years as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow. Spells at the UK's Open University and the University of Durham followed, before he moved to Australia in 2010, to take up a position at the University of New South Wales. In 2014, Jonti accepted a position at the University of Southern Queensland, where he became the Vice-Chancellor's Senior Research Fellow.

Jonti is a passionate and enthusiastic science communicator. He gives regular talks to a wide variety of community groups, schools, and astronomical societies, and makes monthly appearances on ABC Queensland's Evenings program, with Kelly Higgins-Devine. Her research covers topics ranging from the formation and evolution of our Solar system to the search for planets around other stars. He is particularly interested in understanding the different factors that could make some of those planets more (or less) suitable for the development of life, and is looking forward to seeing the next generation of astronomical telescopes make a serious effort at answering the question "Are We Alone?".

Jonti writes regular articles for the Australian research news website The Conversation, which can be found at: . His Twitter handle is @JontiHorner, and his personal webpage is located at