Zadko Telescope

Key personnel

  1. Associate Professor David Coward, Executive and Science Director of Zadko Telescope
  2. John Moore.- Observatory Manager
  3. Andrew Burrell - Electronics Support
  4. John Kennewell - Research Associate
  5. Mr. James Zadko, Director Zadko Telescope


David Coward

Assoc/Prof David Coward

Associate Professor/Future Fellow
Academic Staff (Physics and Astrophysics)

Contact details
Academic Staff (Physics and Astrophysics)
The University of Western Australia (M013)
35 Stirling Highway
+61 8 6488 4563
+61 8 6488 1170
Personal homepage
BSc Murd., PhD W.Aust.
His early work on gravitational waves focused on modelling and simulation of gravitational wave background noise. This work evolved in new directions, including the development of a new data analysis algorithm that uses records of the temporal and spatial pattern of rare events in data to predict the occurrence of even rarer events. The methods found novel applications well beyond their original focus, such as predicting the occurrence of very bright gamma ray bursts.

Coward has received a broad mentorship that reflects his refusal to be restricted to a single research niche.

In 2004, Coward took the bold step of branching out into gamma ray burst and optical transient astronomy, receiving mentorship from experts in this field including the highly cited Tsvi Piran. Following this Coward received mentorship from B. Schmidt, UWA ICRA leaders, and a team of leading French astronomers, Boer and Klotz, for the installation and operation of the Zadko Telescope (Australia’s premier facility for gamma ray burst follow-up).
Coward is a member of the LIGO Scientific Community (burst group), and participates in the E.M. follow-up of gravitational wave events as an “advocate” and is named on an MoU for a joint France/Zadko follow-up. He is also named as an investigator on the high-energy detector satellite mission XMM-Newton. In 2013, Coward was invited to collaborate with the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Antarctic astronomy. This allowed access to optical data from robotic telescopes (AST3) operating at Dome C Antarctica.
Key research
gamma ray bursts
gravitational waves
optical transients
space debris
Roles, responsibilities and expertise
Research leader:

In 2006, Coward commenced work as project manager and lead scientist for managing the construction, installation and commissioning of the UWA Zadko Telescope. Coward led the Australian team that is working in partnership with French astronomers to establish a network of robotic telescopes (Zadko is the Australian node), for multi-messenger astronomy.
The facility plays a niche role in Australian astronomy, as it is the only meter class optical facility in Australia dedicated to automated follow-up imaging of alerts or triggers received from different external instruments/detectors spanning the entire electromagnetic spectrum.
Funding received
Coward and has team has received over $1 Million in funding from the National and State Governments.
Honours and awards
Recent Prizes and Awards:

Coward has received numerous awards across a broad research landscape. Below is a summary of awards:

Go8 Fellowship Award (China Australia astronomy collaboration) (2014 )

Yachad Scholar for 2012: Prestigeous award for outstanding professionals to build collaborations and working relationships with leading Israeli institutes (Sponsored by NAB Australia). This prize has been previously awarded to several Government ministers.

ARC LEIF grant: Lead CI, Coward
`A robotic telescope imaging system for rapid response spectroscopy of gamma ray bursts' (2011)

WA State Government award
`Collaborative Arrangements for Participation in Zadko Telescope Science' (2011)

ARC Future Fellowship: (2010)
Astronomy (PHYS 1102) - 6 Lectures
Astronomy (PHYS 2211) - 13 Lectures
Advanced astronomy techniques

2015 to current:

Electricity (first year)
Special Relativity (first year)
New and noteworthy
Media Impact
My research and collaborations have attracted considerable media interest. In particular the deployment of the UWA Zadko Telescope has allowed UWA to engage in research that the public find exciting and engaging. Below is a sample of national television, radio and print media reports:

ABC News 24, Sydney, ABC News Evenings With Grandstand, Newsreader 28 Feb 2017 7:46 PM

Also broadcast from the following 10 stations
ABC News 24 (Melbourne), ABC News 24 (Regional NSW), ABC News 24 (Brisbane), ABC News 24 (Adelaide), ABC News 24 (Perth), ABC News 24 (Regional Queensland), ABC News 24 (Hobart), ABC News 24 (Canberra), ABC News 24 (Regional Victoria), ABC News 24 (Regional West Australia)

Channel 10, Perth, TEN Eyewitness News, Narelda Jacobs 27 Feb 2017 5:35 PM
Current projects
Coward is a CI on the ARC center of excellence for Gravitational Astronomy.

His core project is gravitational wave data analysis and gamma ray bursts

Coward has enabled many other research projects, including the follow-up of solar system bodies from the Gaia satellite, rare asteroid shape reconstruction using Zadko photometry, coincident optical and radio (MWA) observations of flare stars to name but a few.
Research profile
Research profile and publications