Lisa Harvey-Smith was born in Essex, England. She left school at the age of 11 and taught herself at home, where she developed a passion for astronomy. She joined her local amateur astronomical society in 1992, Braintree Astronomical Society, where she first learned to use a telescope. Her early space heroes included Patrick Moore and Britain's first astronaut Helen Sharman.
Lisa earned a Masters degree in Physics with Honours in Astronomy & Astrophysics from the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne and a Ph.D. in Radio Astronomy from Jodrell Bank Observatory at the University of Manchester, before embarking on a professional career in astronomy. A two-month research project at the Max-Planck-Institute for Radio Astronomy in Germany was followed by a two-year stint as a researcher at The Joint Institute for Very Long Baseline Interferometry in Europe (JIVE) in the Netherlands. She then moved to Australia, where she has been based since 2017.
Lisa has spent much of her career working to develop professional astronomical observatories. She was formerly the project scientist for the $188M Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder telescope at CSIRO and led a group of 30 scientists at Australia's radio telescope national facility. She retains an active program of research, alongside her PhD students and collaborators, and has published more than 50 peer-reviewed scientific papers on topics as varied as the birth and death of stars, cosmic magnetic fields and supermassive black holes. She serves on several scientific advisory committees including the advisory group to the Australian Space Agency and the Questacon board.
Lisa is the Australian Government's Women in STEM Ambassador and a Professor of Practice at the University of New South Wales. She works to drive gender equity in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics education and careers on a national scale. For more information visit the Australian Government Women in STEM Ambassador's website.
Harvey-Smith is a presenter on the popular ABC television show ABC Stargazing Live. She has appeared as a guest on numerous documentaries and series including BBC Stargazing Live, Brian Cox: Life Of A Universe and Todd Sampson's Life on the Line. She is a regular fielding science questions on radio phone-in shows including science hour with Dr. Karl on ABC's Triple J and BBC Radio 5 Live. She is a prolific and talented speaker and has given keynotes at countless major conferences and events including the National Press Club address, TEDx Melbourne, SXSW in Austin, Texas, the World Science Festival in Brisbane and the Sydney Science Festival. In 2018 she hosted the Prime Minister's Prizes for Science at Australian Parliament House.
Lisa has published five popular science books; When Galaxies Collide and The Secret Life of Stars for adults and children's books Under the Stars: Astrophysics for Bedtime (winner of the Singapore Book Awards Best Education Title 2021), Little Book, BIG Universe and Aliens and Other Worlds. She was also a contributing author to Patrick Moore's Yearbook of Astronomy 2016 (Pan Macmillan) and The Best Australian Science Writing 2019 (New South Publishing).
Harvey-Smith has given hundreds of interviews on television, radio and in the press. Lisa presented her own astronomy show called 'When Galaxies Collide' in major cities across Australia in 2018. She appeared live on stage to sold-out theatres across Australia in Buzz Aldrin: Mission to Mars and Gene Cernan: Last Man on the Moon, presented by Live on Stage Australia and An Audience with Neil deGrasse Tyson, presented by Think Inc.
Lisa was named in the Sydney Morning Herald's 100 Most Influential People in 2012 and has won both the CSIRO Chairman's medal and the Eureka Prize for Promoting Understanding of Australian Science Research.
Image: Live on Stage Australia
- Research Group Leader (2017-18)
- Head of Science Operations (Acting) (2017)
- Australian SKA Pathfinder Project Scientist (2012-17)
- SKA Pathfinder Project Scientist (2009-12)
Books and Publications