Stephanie Bernard

Studying distant galaxies helps us to determine the properties of galaxies in the early universe, and to understand how these galaxies evolve into the galaxies we see in the nearby universe today.

My PhD research is in astrophysics. Specifically, I’m using the Hubble Space Telescope to detect the most distant galaxies known. We can see these galaxies as they were over 13 billion years ago – only 500 million years after the Big Bang. Studying these galaxies helps us to determine the properties of galaxies in the early universe, and to understand how these galaxies evolve into the galaxies we see in the nearby universe today.

My parents took me on a trip to the Parkes telescope when I was in year 2 or year 3 of primary school, and I think after that I was determined to be an astronomer so that I could use the telescope! I wore out most of the science picture books that my parents bought me, and was later lucky enough to have excellent science teachers in high school that challenged me.

One of the highlights of my MSc in Physics was the opportunity to travel to Italy for a summer school at the Vatican Observatory. I stayed just outside of Rome for a month, and got to attend lectures by some of the top astrophysicists in the world. I also got to observe on the 10m Keck telescope in Hawaii for my masters research, which was very exciting.

The University of Melbourne has been a really good place for me - I definitely found my undergraduate and masters studies challenging but very rewarding. My research group is extremely supportive, and I feel like I have been encouraged to take all of the opportunities that have come my way. Between beginning my undergraduate degree and now, I have become much more comfortable and confident at giving talks and meeting new people - this is a big part of doing science, since it's such a collaborative field.

I enjoy handcrafts such as sewing and knitting. I also enjoy photography, especially working with analogue film. My dream career is to be an astrophysicist, studying the stars and galaxies in the very early Universe.

Read more about Stephanie’s research - Finding a needle in a hay stack.

Stephanie has received The Klein Prize in Experimental Physics and The Ramm Prize in Experimental Physics.