Consulting for the ARC Centre of Excellence for Gravitational Wave Discover (OzGrav)

I spent this week at Swinburne working with the new ARC Centre of Excellence for Gravitational Wave Discovery (OzGrav). I must admit it was really nice to be back at Swinburne's Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing.  My time here will be short and sweet. I've been brought on board to develop OzGrav's new website and to write, what is likely to be a compelling grant application for a new gravitational wave citizen science project.

In February 2016, the LIGO Scientific Collaboration and the Virgo gravitational wave collaboration announced the first detection of gravitational waves. This historic detection by aLIGO, the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational‐Wave Observatory, marked the end of century-long quest to detect ripples in space-time and "listen" to the final signal from two merging black holes. Needless to say there was a flurry of excitement from astronomers around the world. In May 2016 I was approached by OzGrav's director, to help prepare for the final interview with the Australian Research Council (ARC) that would secure $31.3 million in funding later that year. The recent appointment of OzGrav's Chief Operating Officer, means the centre is now up and running, albeit with a small leadership team and a core group of leading astronomers. 

Core management and administrative staff are yet to be appointed. Shortly, the position of Education & Public Outreach Coordinator and Media & Digital Marketing Manager will be advertised. Several postdoctoral fellows will also be appointed for research positions at the University of Melbourne, the University of Western Australia, and the University of Adelaide.

In November last year the Turnbull Government announced a $4 million boost for Australia's growing citizen science movement, to open a door for the general public to participate in, and make real contributions to, Australian research. The Citizen Science Grants  programme is part of a four-year, $29.8 million, Inspiring Australia - Science Engagement Programme. Grants are awarded on a competitive basis to support community participation in scientific research projects that have a national impact. So in addition to applying for new funding, the centre needs a website, especially if it wants to attract subsequent funding for research and citizen science projects, and industry partners to support its core instrumentation projects. 

I spent the week working at Swinburne at Inspire9 in Richmond. Inspire9 is such a fantastic place to be for this type of work. You're constantly surrounded by creative people, and expertise to draw on. 

Since OzGrav won't have a dedicated website administrator, the site needed to to be easily developed, deployed and managed. Although I prefer Squarespace, we decided to go with Weebly. The management team were already familiar with it and a bare bones structure was already in palce, it's versatile with many different page layourts, responsible enough for what OzGrav needs (one aspect where Squarespace excels) and it supports an intranet with multiple levels of access for multiple user groups, something that Squarespace doesn't do well. Of course this means a lot more customisation, a lot more tinkering with HTML and CSS, and more browser cross-browser and responsiveness issues than I would like. Aside from the overall design and site structure, I'm also creating the scientific content – translating the hardcore science from the original ARC grant, and the obscure terminology that comes with it – to stories that both public and research astronomers from other fields can understand.