Dr Willem van Straten

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Associate Professor

Phone: +64 9 921 9999 ext 6810

Email: willem.van.straten@aut.ac.nz

Physical Address:
Institute for Radio Astronomy and Space Research
Ground Floor, 120 Mayoral Drive
Auckland 1010
New Zealand
Postal Address:

Private Bag 92006
Auckland 1142
New Zealand

ORCID: ORCID logo  https://orcid.org/0000-0003-2519-7375

Links to relevant web pages:
Scopus Author ID: 6602206438


Doctor of Philosophy (Astrophysics), Swinburne University of Technology, 2003

Bachelor of Pure and Applied Science (Space and Communication Sciences), York University, 1997

Memberships and Affiliations:

Fellow of the Astronomical Society of Australia

Institute for Radio Astronomy and Space Research (AUT)


As an undergraduate in Canada, I was preparing for a job in the space industry when I learned about radio astronomy and new ways to study the physical extremes of our Universe through pulsars.  I completed my PhD on high-precision pulsar timing in Australia before undertaking post-doctoral and academic staff appointments at the Netherlands Foundation for Research in Astronomy (ASTRON), The Centre for Gravitational Wave Astronomy (The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley), and the Centre for Astrophysics & Supercomputing (Swinburne University of Technology).  In 2016, I joined AUT as a Senior Lecturer.

I’ve co-authored over 100 refereed journal articles, primarily related to the study of pulsars and fast radio bursts, including 4 in Science and 2 in Nature.  I work closely with international collaborators on large, long-term projects such as the Parkes Pulsar Timing Array (PPTA), the International Pulsar Timing Array (IPTA), and the Survey for Pulsars and Extragalactic Radio Bursts (SUPERB).  In support of these projects, I’ve led the development of three scientific data analysis packages that are used by the international community of pulsar astronomers (psrdada, dspsr, and psrchive).  I am currently leading the design of the pulsar timing instrumentation for the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) as a member of the SKA Central Signal Processor consortium.

Teaching Areas:

Undergraduate Teaching:
PHYS500 – Physics I: Classical Mechanics and Thermodynamics

Research Areas:

  • Radio astronomy: high-precision pulsar timing; gravitational waves; surveys for pulsars and fast radio transients
  • High performance computing: real-time digital signal processing on distributed, multi-processor architectures
  • Machine learning: autonomous classification, scheduling, and data modelling for large-scale pulsar surveys

Research Summary:

I am primarily interested in testing our understanding of gravity and searching for low-frequency gravitational waves from binary supermassive black holes through high-precision timing of radio pulsars.  I have also developed expertise in radio polarimetry and instrumental calibration, statistical methods of studying the pulsar emission mechanism, mapping the structure of the galactic magnetic field through pulsar Faraday rotation measurement, studying interstellar scintillation via the cyclostationary statistics of the electromagnetic radiation from pulsars, and digital signal processing on distributed multi-processor architectures. I also supervise research into the application of artificial intelligence and autonomous systems to all aspects of the search for new pulsars and fast transients.




2015 Australian Research Council Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment
and Facilities
An Ultra-wideband Radio Receiver for the Parkes 64-metre Radio Telescope
Prof. M. Bailes, Dr. G. Hobbs, Prof. Dr. M. Kramer, Prof. J. Han, Prof. B. Gaensler, Prof. S. Wyithe, Dr. R. Bhat, Dr. Y. Levin, Dr. W. van Straten, Prof. L. Wen, A/Prof. A. Melatos, Dr. R. Manchester

2014 Australian Research Council Discovery Project ($497k)
An upgraded pulsar timing array for gravitational wave detection
Prof. M. Bailes, Dr. Y. Levin, Dr. W. van Straten, Dr. G. Hobbs & Prof.
R.N. Manchester

2013 Australian SKA Pre-construction Grant ($638k)
Design of the pulsar timing engine for the SKA Central Signal Processor
Dr. W. van Straten, Prof. M. Bailes & Mr. A. Jameson

2012 Australian Research Council Discovery Project ($320k)
Model-driven engineering of scientific software for graphical processing units,
Prof. G. Grundy, Prof. R.J. Sadus, Dr. W. van Straten, & Dr. D.G. Barnes

2009 Australian Research Council Discovery Project ($365k)
From Nanosecond Timing to Nanohertz Gravitational Wave Detection,
Prof. M. Bailes, Dr. G. Hobbs, Dr. R.N. Manchester, Prof. S.R. Kulkarni, & Dr. W. van Straten
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