Research Areas: Galaxy Evolution, Indigenous Astronomy, Moon Haloes
"I never had a plan for any of this, I just followed what I was interested in and learned to ignore any critics and my own doubts along the way."
Source: ANU College of Science
Karlie grew up in a small town in New South Wales, Australia. Karlie is a Gomeroi women. The Gomeroi (also spelled Gamilaraay or Kamilaroi) are one of the largest Indigenous nations in Australia.
Karlie did not enjoy school, so her family arranged for elders in her community to tutor Karlie. Their teaching and mentoring helped Karlie to do well in her studies and she developed a love of maths. This support gave Karlie the confidence to continue studying science and maths. She became the first person in her family to go to university.
Karlie studied at the University of Newcastle in New South Wales. She has a degree in maths and physics. While at uni, Karlie had a job as a science communicator. She visited small rural schools to show them exciting science experiments.
Karlie completed a master’s degree in astronomy at the Australia National University. She researched the Milky Way and used data collected by the Parkes telescope. Karlie looked at how the Milky Way has changed over time. This includes the way it ‘feeds’ off other galaxies to grow in size. She also learned how to write code and program computers. Karlie has said knowing how to code makes her work easier. This is because the computer does the maths for you!
Karlie also researches the astronomy knowledge of Indigenous people. A lot of this information has been shared via stories or ‘dreamings’ and has not been written down. This means the knowledge of Indigenous people is often unknown or forgotten. It has not had the same recognition as knowledge written down by Western scientists. Karlie uses her training as a scientist to ‘decode’ the information told in the stories. Her research aims to reveal the scientific meaning within dreamtime stories told about Moon haloes. Moon haloes look like a bright ring around the Moon. They are made by tiny ice crystals in the air.
Karlie is the first Indigenous woman in New South Wales to graduate with a degree in maths and physics. In 2017, the BBC included Karlie on a list of 100 inspiring women. In 2020 the Sydney Observatory made Karlie their first astronomy ambassador
Karlie has worked for the Indigenous STEM Education Project. This aims to increase the number of Indigenous students studying or working in STEM. She is also an astronomy ambassador for the Sydney Observatory.
Karlie is a self-proclaimed animal lover. She loves playing video games in her free time.