Melanie Johnston Hollitt

Associate Professor - Physics School of Chemical and Physical Sciences

AProf Melanie Johnston-Hollitt profile picture

Professional positions

I am involved in several major international radio astronomy projects at a senior level as well as serve on national and international scientific coordination and review panels. Selected current positions include:

  • Board of Directors, Square Kilometre Array Organisation Ltd.
  • Chair, Executive Board of the Murchison Wide Field Array Radio Telescope
  • Co-Chair, International SKA Working Group on Cosmic Magnetism
  • Task leader, Science Pipeline of the SKA Science Data Processor Work package
  • Chair, Cluster Science Working Group for the EMU Survey on ASKAP
  • Earth Sciences and Astronomy Panel, Marsden Fund, NZ.

Additionally, I lead the Radio Astronomy Group at VUW which currently comprises of 10 people and accounts for 80% of all peer-reviewed publications in radio astronomy in NZ since the group was formed in 2009.

Research interests

I am interested in understanding both how the Universe behaves on the largest scales and which new tools will be required to answer outstanding questions about it. I research galaxy clusters, the largest gravitationally bound objects in the Universe, cosmic magnetism and design aspects of the next generation of radio telescopes.

My group has recently adopted a multiwavelength approach to understanding clusters and superclusters. We are using several of the world’s best radio telescopes in Australia, the US and India (MWA, ATCA, VLA and GMRT). Optical data and X-ray images from the ESA XMM-Newton satellite are used to understand how cluster mergers (the most energetic events since the Big Bang), shape the galaxies within them.

Current projects include

  • understanding the role environment plays on the generation and evolution of radio galaxies;
  • multiwavelength investigations of cluster dynamics (radio, X-ray and optical)
  • using head-tailed galaxies barometers to measure the largest 'weather systems' in the Universe
  • scientific and technical requirements for the next generation of radio telescopes.

Students have the opportunity to work with our collaborators in France, Italy, Australia and India.

Visit the Astronomy and Astrophysics research group web pages.

View my publications (2009 – present).

Publications prior to moving to NZ.