About us

About us

PhysAstro news

The Department of Physics and Astronomy circulates a fortnightly internal newsletter that captures news, events, important deadlines and all the reasons to cheer. It's a newsletter about you, so please contribute!
All submissions are made via this quick and easy google form. No google account or login is required so that anyone - staff or student - can send in their story. Images to illustrate your story can be sent to fse.physastro-news@mq.edu.au - be sure to submit the article too!
The newsletter will be collated by Kelly and Emma and will be sent as a pdf to all PhysAstro staff, all our HDR students and our third-year undergraduate students too.
And commencing in mid October 2019, the latest copy will also be posted here... >Oct 2019 edition


Follow us on Instagram @mqphysastro to catch our photo of the week post where each week we'll feature a new image from a different member of the Department and get to know them a little better. What makes us tick? What do we care about? What do we do outside our MQ walls? Stay tuned to find out! For your chance to be insta-famous send an email with your photo and blurb to Kelly Sharpless. Today!


Department Meeting schedule and associated resources (Agenda, Minutes, Reports etc.) are accessible within the O365 Group Dept Physics and Astronomy for staff with membership to the meetings.
For information about accessing these resources see > pdf document

Department Town Hall 2019 slides from the Town Hall held in April 2019 are available here > pdf document

Department Calendar and Key Dates
A 2019 calendar of common academic dates, department/FSE/MQ events, and application deadlines is accessible here > 2019 calendar pdf document. Disclaimer: care is taken to ensure accuracy of published dates but they are subject to change and the user remains responsible for checking relevant websites for accurate dates and times.

Department Leadership contacts

Head of DepartmentProf Michael Steel
Deputy Head of DepartmentProf Dave Spence
Learning and Teaching DirectorProf Dave Spence
Research DirectorProf Orsola De Marco
HDR Director (Mental Health First Aider)A/Prof Alex Fuerbach
Department Manager, Equity and Diversity Committee Chair (First Aider)Emma Hastings

Acknowledgement of Country
Staff and students are encouraged to include an Acknowledgement of Country in the program agenda for small events and committee meetings. This is an acknowledgement given by the event lead that recognises and pays respect to the traditional people of land on which Macquarie University stands. A brief explanation and example wording can be found here > pdf document. If you are unsure about how to proceed or have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact a member of the leadership within the department, or contact Walanga Muru directly.

Distribution (email) Groups

The Department has a number of different email distribution groups that can be used to email various cohorts and staff types. These are all accessible in the Outlook Address Book. The membership and general information about the purpose of each group is also accessible in the Address Book details. Honorary academics and fellows situated at MQ are included where appropriate.

All staff and postgraduate students (includes all lists below) > fse.physastro@mq.edu.au
Academic staff (includes all academic and research staff and Fellows) > fse.physastro-academic@mq.edu.au 
Research staff (postdocs, Fellows, research associates) > fse.physastro-research@mq.edu.au
Professional staff (includes all administrators and technical staff) > fse.physastro-professional@mq.edu.au
Postgraduate students (includes the PhD and MRes lists as described below) > fse.physastro-postgraduate@mq.edu.au
PhD students (includes PhD students, visiting scholars and HDR Director) > fse.physastro-phd@mq.edu.au
MRes students (includes MRes1, MRes2 students and MRes Directors) > fse.physastro-mres@mq.edu.au

Other targeted groups also exist; contact the Admin Team for advice about these, or to have any missing staff or students added to any existing distribution list.

NOTE Research Group email lists for MQAAAstro, MQPhotonics, QSciTech, CNBP, OptoFab are currently unchanged but are expected to be updated to the new format sometime in 2019 (note that this is waiting for FSE IT to be able to proceed).

Media, and getting your stories out there

Follow our social pages and promote them to your students and colleagues. Have you taken a great photo at a recent event or while on AOD? ... then email our Outreach Coordinator Kelly Sharpless to have photos and content posted or promoted. (Kelly can be found most often in the office adjacent to the Head of Department.)

Facebook @mqphysastro   Twitter @MQPhysAstro    Instagram @mqphysastro

If you've recently had a research breakthrough, won external funding, received a prize, published an article or you're arranging a special event like a seminar or roadtrip, then do we have the people for you! Kelly and Orsola can get you get in touch with the Science in Media team who can help get your news out into the world. You may not be sure that it's worth promoting, but it will be. If you would like assistance with getting started then contact Kelly, or go to Suggest A Story

Health, Safety, and Wellbeing


**If your personal or mental wellbeing are at risk from assault or harassment and you want or need immediate assistance or crisis support please refer to the Wellbeing support page for all contact details, including emergency services. We want to help you so please don't hesitate to seek assistance.** 

An extensive list of wellbeing support resources, contacts and networks are also available on our Department Equity, Diversity and Inclusion page > here

Workplace Health and Safety

Our Workplace Health and Safety page provides extensive information and useful links on a range of topics, including:

  • WHS contacts, including first aid and mental health first aid officers
  • Obtaining research lab access
  • Laser safety
  • Chemical safety
  • Core business hours and the After Hours and Working Alone Guideline
  • Fieldwork

Teaching and HDR Supervision

HDR Supervision

The Faculty of Science and Engineering HDR Office has put together a document that explains much about the processes and policies associated with applications and supervision. The document is jam-packed with links to hard to find information and is recommended reading for all new and experienced MRes and PhD Supervisors at MQ > pdf document.

In addition to that resource, the following provides more information specific to HDR supervision within Physics and Astronomy. All members of the departmental HDR committee are more than happy to assist you with everything you need to get up to speed with your new role as HDR supervisor. In the first instance, please contact either Alex Fuerbach (HDR director) or Jo Dawson (deputy HDR director, MRes Year 2 coordinator). If you have questions concerning the competitiveness and/or eligibility of one of your potential HDR applicants, please talk to Danny Terno.

  1. HDR progress interviews
    In addition to the compulsory Online APR (Annual Progress Report) system > MQ website link, the department organises annual progress interviews with all PhD and MRes Year 2 candidates to monitor their progress and provide additional support. On top of this, we also require all PhD students to attend a short meeting with a member of the HDR committee 7 months before their expected submission date.
  2. HDR budget
    All PhD and MRes Year 2 students can apply for funds of up to $1500 per year to support their research projects. Applications need to be discussed with the supervisor beforehand, and must then be submitted online > FSE HDR budget form. The purpose of this process is also to train students in submitting a mini-research grant proposal so please take the application seriously and help your student with drafting the application. For International conferences, funding is available via the Postgraduate Research Fund (PGRF) Scheme > MQ website link. This is a competitive scheme and training for supervisors and students is provided annually before submission closes.
  3. Annual Showcase of Research
    Each year (typically October/November), the department organises a poster day where HDR students present their projects to their peers, MQ staff and students and the wider community. Participation for PhD students is compulsory and participation of MRes Year 2 students is highly encouraged.

In August 2018, Universities Australia released a new Principles For Respectful Supervisory Relationships as part of its response to the Respect.Now.Always campaign within the university's sector. Details about the release and a copy of the Principles are available on their website > Universities Australia link


Booking travel at MQ can be a little confusing, and there is much to do before you depart. If this is your first time travelling at MQ (whether staff or student) please review the University policies and guidelines at the links that follow. To book travel, please complete the steps below and use only those forms provided here. Note the guidelines for personal travel during Absence on Duty.

Travel Policy and Guideline > MQ website link; Travel Overseas > MQ website link; Travel Insurance > MQ website link; Travel Resources > MQ website linkTravel EmergenciesMQ website link

  • Step 1: contact Campus Travel or STA Travel for a quote for international flights or print a current online quote for domestic flights (see Travel Rescources above for links)
  • Step 2: complete an Absence on Duty form.
  • Step 3: complete a Travel Budget and Travel Diary > excel document
  • Step 4: complete an NOPF for a Per Diem or Travel Advance (if applicable) > instructions pdf > NOPF excel file
  • Step 5: submit all forms and quotes for supervisor and Head of Department approval after which flights and accommodation will be booked by Lisa Pesavento or Megha Patel
  • Step 6: submit all receipts within 30 days of return to acquit an approved Travel Advance, or seek a reimbursement for relevant costs (both via NOPF) > NOPF excel file
  • Step 7: upload receipts or tax invoices to Concur to finalise travel transaction paid for using MQ Corporate Card (if applicable)

When completing any financial forms related to travel purchases (NOPF, Concur etc), refer to the relevant travel Natural account codes > pdf document

Travelling by car?

There are three options here: use of the department fleet vehicle; hiring a car/van from Avis; or using your own vehicle.
The department car is available for use by staff and students of the department who currently hold a full Driver Licence (Provisional and Learner licences are not acceptable for insurance purposes). Bookings can be made at the following link where you will need your MQ ID to log in > Fleet Booking Tool. If you have not driven the department car before then you must provide a copy of your current Driver Licence to Megha who will also be able to provide you with the car keys. Be sure to complete the log book (in the car) after each journey.

Avis is the current preferred supplier for vehicle hire, and this tends to be a very economical way to get about when the department car is not available. You do need to plan ahead though. For more details about preferred suppliers, including promo code for Avis > MQ website link.

Use of your own vehicle requires approval from Head of Department both before and after the travel; there is a form to be completed. Please see Lisa prior to use of your own vehicle for University travel.


All purchases of chemicals must be initiated in SciQuest. If the chemical does not appear in a hosted catalogue then in must be ordered as a "type-in" order. The SciQuest safety management system integrates requirements for procurement and storage of chemicals, as well as managing the University chemical inventory of use and disposal. Visit the SciQuest wiki page for login and use information. Megha Patel can set up new user accounts and can assist with questions that you may have about SciQuest but please visit the wiki or speak to your supervisor for help in the first instance.

Purchases of gases should be made by completing a Gas Requisition form and a Purchase Order form. All gases are ordered through BOC and best contact for assistance with ordering is Joe Gatt in the Science Stores. Gas Requisition and Purchase Order forms should be submitted to Megha or to Lisa Pesavento once complete, and should be accompanied by a quote. Please be sure to familiarise yourself with the new gas requisition process before submitting an order.
Gas requisition process > pdf document
Gas Requisition form > word document
Purchase Order form > excel document
Natural account codes (2018 version) > pdf document

For purchases of items that are not chemicals or gases, use the Purchase Order form document above.  Contact Megha or Lisa to submit your order. Many common lab consumables are available through the Science Stores located at 14 Eastern Road at the loading dock.

Staff Appointments

Macquarie provides comprehensive information about recruitment process and policy on the central pages - this an excellent place to start with any recruitment process whether casual or continuing > MQ website link
Current enterprise agreements for academic and professional staff, including detail about employment, pay and leave conditions are available at this > MQ website link. Current casual and fixed term/continuing rates of pay for academic and professional staff are available at this > MQ website link.

Casual academic staff employment in Physics and Astronomy

The Department of Physics and Astronomy offers a range of undergraduate units to students completing programs within the Faculty of Science and Engineering, and service and elective units to students from all across campus. We employ casual academic staff to support the teaching of these programs. Expressions of interest from appropriately qualified individuals are invited before the commencement of sessions 1 and 2 each year for positions demonstrating in our undergraduate teaching labs. Casual academic staff opportunities for tutoring, assignment marking or junior convenor roles may also be available throughout the year to suitably qualified individuals.

**Information about hiring practices relevant to the recruitment of lab demonstrators and junior convenors in the Department of Physics and Astronomy is available here > pdf document

Any questions or concerns about casual academic staff recruitment within Physics and Astronomy can be directed to the Department Manager > Emma Hastings or to the Department Learning and Teaching Director > Prof Dave Spence or to the Technical Team Manager > Ben Norton

Information for recruiters

All staff appointment administration is overseen by Lisa Pesavento for Physics and Astronomy and academics wishing to appoint staff will need to provide her with the following documentation depending upon the appointment type.

Casual appointments

The following documents must be submitted no later than 1 week prior to the start of the appointment. Failure to submit in this timeframe will mean that your staff member will be unable to commence as anticipated.

  • Casual Professional staff appointment form (use this form for all research support roles) > form link
  • Salary budget for casual appointments *updated for 2019* > excel document
  • Casual Academic staff appointment form (use this form for teaching support roles) > form link

Fixed term and Continuing appointments

In 2018 the executive of Macquarie University began a process of reviewing (by panel) all requests for fixed term and continuing appointments; this requires approval first to be given by the Executive Dean and General Manager of FSE. The Executive panel meets each fortnight, with the faculty reviewing requests on a similar cycle in sync with the Executive panel. If either the faculty or the Executive panel are unconvinced of the need and financial viability of the request role or appointment then it will not proceed. It is critical to have all documentation completed well in advance of the anticipated start date or renewal date (for existing fixed term) to ensure that the approvals, advertisement and appointments can all be made in time. Allow 4 weeks for renewal of existing fixed term appointments and 6 weeks for new positions that require advertisement. Lisa Pesavento and Emma Hastings will be able to provide advice here but cannot short cut the processes - they are a University directive with the full support of FSE leadership.
The following documents must be submitted.

  • Fixed term and continuing appointment request form (PhysAstro) > pdf document
  • Justification - this should be a single paragraph justifying the need for the role and the risk of not proceeding
  • Salary budget for fixed term or continuing appointment *updated for 2019* > excel document

Please be sure to speak to Emma ASAP to arrange desk space for your new staff. Space is hard to come by so allow time for arrangements to be made.

Honorary Appointments and Visiting Scholars

Allow 4 weeks processing time for domestic visitors, and 4 months processing time for international visitors requiring visa sponsorship. Visitors are not covered by Macquarie University insurance until such time as all documentation is received and all processes are completed; this means that they should not be on campus, using campus resources.

The following central page provides access to the required forms and essential reading about visa application processes for appointing Honorary academic titles and visiting scholars, including contact details at MQ for visa advice > MQ website link. Please be sure to start there regardless of whether your appointee is domestic or international.

Then follow these steps:

Honorary Appointments (New and renewal)
  • Step 1: complete this form > word document. Refer to the MQ Honorary academic titles schedule > pdf document
  • Step 2:
    • if a Visa needs to be sponsored: provide the above completed form, current CV, current Passport (photo page), confirmation of employment and evidence of financial assistance to Megha. Allow up to 4 months for a visa sponsorship application to be processed.
    • if a valid appropriate Visa is already held or is not required (domestic appointees): provide the above completed form and current Passport (photo page) to Megha.
  • Step 3: Head of Department and Executive Dean will review the request; if approved, a Letter of Invitation will be provided to the visitor which they must sign and return to Megha ASAP.
  • Step 4: all documentation will be forwarded to HR by Megha for a record to be set up which will allow access to email and local systems (as required).
  • Step 5: Megha will allocate a desk for use by your visitor during their time here. We are unable to guarantee that your visitor will be provided a space near your research group but all efforts will be made to place them somewhere appropriate. Megha will be able to arrange swipe cards and keys if needed.
Visiting Scholars
  • Step 1: complete this form > word document
  • Step 2:
    • if a Visa needs to be sponsored: provide the above completed form, current CV, current Passport (photo page), confirmation of enrolment and evidence of financial assistance to Megha. Allow up to 4 months for a visa sponsorship application to be processed.
    • if a valid appropriate Visa is already held or is not required (domestic appointees): provide the above completed form and current Passport (photo page) to Megha.
  • Step 3: Head of Department and Executive Dean will review the request; if approved, a Letter of Invitation will be provided to the visitor which they must sign and return to Megha ASAP.
  • Step 4: all documentation will be forwarded to HR by Megha for a record to be set up which will allow access to email and local systems (as required).
  • Step 5: Vivienne will allocate a desk for use by your scholar during their time here. We are unable to guarantee that they will be provided a space near your research group but all efforts will be made to place them somewhere appropriate. Megha will be able to arrange swipe cards and keys if needed.


There are plenty of outreach activities taking place throughout the year: school visits, planetarium and observatory shows, Open Day, magic shows... If you are planning an event or just visiting a school that you have a connection with, please be sure to let our Outreach Coordinator Kelly Sharpless know about it. We have worked on expanding, clarifying and better presenting our outreach activities and there may be something fresh that you could take with you or roll into your event. Kelly and Sue can also assist with collateral and handouts, and connecting with FSE Marketing and Recruitment teams.

We'd like to get a full picture of all the outreach that we do, including the visits to schools that our academics are making for short talks. Please be sure to register your visits/talks on the simple form here > form link. Similarly, we'd like to capture what the schools think about our outreach so please share this survey with any schools that you have visited, for any purpose > survey link.

We also have a growing list of demonstrations and activities available for use at schools and events. The list is accessible here > register link. Please contact Adam Joyce or Kelly if you have any questions about the demonstrations listed.


Department Administrative contacts

NameOffice HoursResponsibilities
Department ManagerEmma HastingsMon-Fri
strategy, planning, budget and administrative management
Administrator, Finance and StaffLisa PesaventoMon-Fri
financial and budgetary enquiries and management; account enquiries; staff appointments; reimbursements
Administrator and Outreach CoordinatorKelly SharplessWed-Fri
assistant to the Head of Department; outreach planning and coordination (including AfA); social media and publications
Administrator, AcademicVictoria ParkMon-Fri
enrolment, timetabling and results enquiries; academic staff support; AskMQ and Tracker requests; reporting; casual academic appointments and timesheets;
Administrator, AcademicPhil DartnellMon-Fri
enrolment, timetabling and results enquiries; academic staff support; special consideration; reporting; HDR student support; LEUs
Administrative AssistantMegha PatelMon-Fri
building and room access and bookings; honorary appointments and visitors; purchasing and orders; SciQuest access; stationery and kitchen supplies; dept car bookings; general enquiries and repair requests
Administrator, EQUS RCBelinda WallisMon-Tues 9:30-4:30pm; Wed 9:30-2pmadministrative, events and financial reporting support for the EQUS Research Centre node at Macquarie University

If you are required to attend Jury Service and this will impact upon teaching or research priorities, please contact the Department Manager, Emma Hastings, who may be able to write a letter in support of your service being delayed to a later stage.

MQ templates for Word documents, Powerpoint slides and other applications are accessible for download > MQ Staff Portal

Phone User Guide - AVAYA 1608

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