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Personal profile


Dr Jo Dawson (BSc 1st class hons UCL, PhD Nagoya University) is a Senior Lecturer in Astronomy and Astrophysics and current ARC DECRA Fellow. She was previously an ARC Super Science Fellow at the University of Tasmania, a Bolton Fellow at CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science (CASS), and held a joint Lecturship at Macquarie University and CASS before transitioning to her current DECRA Fellowship. She has been working at Macquarie since 2014.

Dr Dawson is the current primary supervisor to three PhD students and two MRes students, and has two MRes completions. She retains strong scientific ties to CASS, which manages the Australia Telescope National Facility, and her students enjoy ready access to the associated world-class instrumentation and expertise. She is Departmental Advisor for the Masters of Research Degree, and has worked to improve the delivery of the second (research-based) year of the programme. She teaches the popular general interest introductory astronomy Planet Unit, ASTR170, as well as other first year and masters-level astronomy units.

Dr Dawson has a strong interest in Diversity in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields, and in evidence-based policy changes that can help level a playing-field that has long been tilted against women and sexual and racial minorities. She serves on the Macquarie University Gender Equity Self Assessment Team, on the Physics and Astronomy Departmental Diversity Committee (which she chaired in 2016–2017), and also chaired the annual Astronomical Society of Australia (ASA) Inclusivity, Diversity and Equity in Astronomy (IDEA) workshop.

Research interests

Dr Dawson's core interests are radio astronomical studies of the interstellar medium (ISM). Her research focuses on the evolution of the ISM in the Milky Way and nearby galaxies, and in particular on the mechanisms by which the atomic medium is processed into molecular clouds. A key highlight of her work has been providing quantitative evidence of molecular cloud formation in giant "supershells" formed by multiple stellar winds and supernovae.

In recent years her attention has turned to the so-called "Dark ISM" - material bridging the gap between the diffuse/atomic and dense/molecular regimes, and which is invisible to most standard radio astronomical tracers. She leads the large radio astronomical survey project SPLASH (the Southern Parkes Large-Area Survey in Hydroxyl), a deep survey of OH molecules in the Southern Galactic Plane which aims to characterise this hidden gas in the Milky Way. She is also investigating the relationships between radio spectral line tracers of the gaseous ISM, and infra-red and optical emission/absorption from interstellar dust. She is an active member of the Australia Telescope Square Kilometer Array GASKAP survey.

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molecular clouds Physics & Astronomy
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Projects 2012 2022

Research Outputs 2006 2019

84-GHz methanol masers, their relationship to 36-GHz methanol masers, and their molecular environments

Breen, S. L., Contreras, Y., Dawson, J. R., Ellingsen, S. P., Voronkov, M. A. & McCarthy, T. P., Apr 2019, In : Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. 484, 4, p. 5072-5093 22 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Open Access
methyl alcohol
flux density

The Southern H II Region Discovery Survey. I. The Bright Catalog

Wenger, T. V., Dickey, J. M., Jordan, C. H., Balser, D. S., Armentrout, W. P., Anderson, L. D., Bania, T. M., Dawson, J. R., McClure-Griffiths, N. M. & Shea, J., 1 Feb 2019, In : Astrophysical Journal, Supplement Series. 240, 2, p. 1-19 19 p., 24.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Open Access
H II regions

Accurate OH maser positions. II. The Galactic center region

Qiao, H. H., Walsh, A. J., Breen, S. L., Gómez, J. F., Dawson, J. R., Imai, H., Ellingsen, S. P., Green, J. A. & Shen, Z. Q., 1 Nov 2018, In : Astrophysical Journal, Supplement Series. 239, 1, p. 1-15 15 p., 15.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

spatial resolution
supernova remnants

Calibrating the HISA temperature: Measuring the temperature of the Riegel-Crutcher cloud

Dénes, H., McClure-Griffiths, N. M., Dickey, J. M., Dawson, J. R. & Murray, C. E., 11 Sep 2018, In : Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. 479, 2, p. 1465-1490 26 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Open Access
self absorption
spin temperature
optical thickness

Dust-gas scaling relations and OH abundance in the Galactic ISM

Nguyen, H., Dawson, J. R., Miville-Deschênes, M-A., Tang, N., Li, D., Heiles, C., Murray, C. E., Stanimirović, S., Gibson, S. J., McClure-Griffiths, N. M., Troland, T., Bronfman, L. & Finger, R., 20 Jul 2018, In : Astrophysical Journal. 862, 1, p. 1-18 18 p., 49.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review