ARC Training Centre for CubeSats, UAVs & Their Applications

Professor Iver Cairns, Director

Iver Cairns has over 30 years of experience in space physics and space weather research. His primary expertise is in the theory, simulation, and analysis of plasma waves and radio emissions. Iver has over 300 published, refereed, papers in journals and books. He is a Co-Investigator on NASA’s STEREO mission and, since June 2019, on NASA’s two new SMEX missions, PUNCH and TRACERS. Prof. Cairns has held multiple leadership positions in Australian and international scientific societies, including the Asia Oceania Geosciences Society (AOGS), the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR), International Association for Geomagnetism and Aeronomy (IAGA), and the Solar Terrestrial and Space Physics (STSP) Group of the Australian Institute of Physics.  Currently he is Chair of COSPAR’s Finance Committee and of the Program Committee for the 2020 COSPAR Assembly in Sydney, as well as the longtime Co-Chair of the Australian Space Research Conference. Within Australia Iver led the 2010-2019 Decadal Plan for Australian Space Science and chaired the Academy of Science’s National Committee for Space Science 2004 – 2011. Since then he has worked to convince Governments to invest in the space sector. He led the INSPIRE-2 CubeSat project, which launched in May 2017 and re-entered still working in November 2018. Currently Iver leads CUAVA, the ARC Training Centre for CubeSats, UAVs, and Their Applications, which is training people, solving research problems, and working on commercial outcomes for its industry, academic, and governmental partners.

A longer bio is available at

Professor Andrew Dempster, Deputy Director

Professor Andrew Dempster is Director of the Australian Centre for Space Engineering Research (ACSER) in the School of Electrical Engineering and Telecommunications at the University of New South Wales (UNSW). He has a BE and MEngSc from UNSW and a PhD from the University of Cambridge in efficient circuits for signal processing arithmetic. He was system engineer and project manager for the first GPS receiver developed in Australia in the late 80s and has been involved in satellite navigation ever since. His current research interests are in satellite navigation receiver design and signal processing, areas where he has six patents, and new location technologies. He is leading the development of space engineering research at ACSER.

Ms Reign MacMillan, Operations and Research Administration Manager

Reign MacMillan has over 16 years’ experience in University administration, both in Australia and overseas.  She is skilled in research and grant administration, student support, and operational management.  Her career focus has been on provision of operational and strategic support in research-intensive grant-funded institutes. Reign joined CUAVA at the University of Sydney in 2018, relocating from University College London, where she spent 10 years leading the Administrative team at the Gatsby Computational Neuroscience Unit.  Reign is an alumna of University of Sydney, graduating with a BA (Hons) in Social Anthropology. She has also been awarded a Diploma in Strategic Leadership and Management whilst working at UCL, and was a member of the Chartered Management Institute (UK). 

Dr Xueliang Bai, Training Centre Engineer

Xueliang joins CUAVA with experience in aerospace engineering and electronics, and has designed and successfully launched a 3U CubeSat in 2019. He is a graduate of the University of Sydney with a PhD in Aerospace Engineering, and involvement in the i-INSPIRE project. Xueliang has worked previously for the Centre for Quantum Technology at the National University of Singapore as the electronics and system engineer for the SpooQy and QubeSat projects, and has conducted research in the field of quantum communication for nano-satellites. Xueliang will be leading the development of our first CubeSat, CUAVA-1 which is expected to be delivered later this year.

Dr Joon Wayn Cheong, Postdoctoral Fellow (UNSW)

Joon Wayn Cheong is currently a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the School of Electrical Engineering, University of New South Wales (UNSW). He received his PhD in 2012 and BE (2008) from UNSW Sydney. He is currently involved in CUAVA-1 satellite mission and was the Technical Lead for UNSW’s Cubesat mission (UNSW-EC0) and built the first two Australian Cubesats to become operational in space. His research combines GNSS, phased array and signal processing theories with application towards GNSS interference mitigation, GNSS weak signal acquisition, reflectometry-based remote sensing, embedded systems and vehicular networked-navigation.

Associate Professor KC Wong, University of Sydney

Associate Professor KC Wong is a pioneering UAS (Unmanned Aircraft Systems) researcher having worked on multidisciplinary and morphing airframe design, instrumentation, control, system integration, applications, flight testing and project management since 1988. He is also very active in enabling the next generation of UAS and aerospace engineers through his introduction of unique experiential learning and global engineering design opportunities. He leads a small UAS research team, and has international R&D collaborations. UAS designed and developed in his group have been utilised in several industry collaborative research projects. Dr Wong was the founding President of the industry-focussed Australian Association for Unmanned Systems (AAUS), and served in that role for seven years until 2015. He is an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) and a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS).

Dr Jason Held – Saber Astronautics

Prior to founding Saber Astronautics, Dr. Held was a US Army Major for US Space Command and deployed internationally in support of military missions. He was a lead instructor at the Interservice Space Fundamentals Course and an engineer at Army Space and Missile Command Battle Lab. He conducted flight software for the Wide Field Camera 3 of the Hubble Space Telescope and testing for the International Space Station. Dr. Held lectured for the IRS Space Station Design Workshop, University of New South Wales, and International Space University. He led a research expedition in the high Canadian Arctic and co-founded the Delta-V SpaceHub, the University of Sydney space engineering laboratory, and is advisory for many space startups in the US and Australia. The Australian government selected Dr Held for the “Expert Reference Group” to design their Space Agency. He also advises international think tanks Global Access Partners, NSI, and the Economist.

Mr Andreas Antoniades – Saber Astronautics

Andreas specialises in embedded systems and aerospace hardware, business development and has been part of the Australian entrepreneurial landscape since 2013. At Saber, Andreas handles avionics design, spacecraft and mission planning, business development and occasionally graphics design. Currently, Andreas is also PI for CUAVA, is on the advisory board of several Australian space companies, communities and projects, and is even partner to a fashion start-up. Recently, he has become chairman of OrbitOz, Australia’s oldest space networking and community event organiser. Former experience has involved the creation and operation of Obelisk Systems, a next-generation CubeSat and STEM education company involved in the delivery of educational payloads to the ISS, student ambassadorship at UoN, the Hunter Medical Research Institute, as well as in several mining companies.

Dr Bradley Evans – DSTG Maritime

Brad’s research is focused on the use of Earth Observation, using spectral cameras, UAV’s, Aircraft, CubeSats and Satellites to enhance our understanding of the Carbon and Water cycle. In a practical sense, this involves mapping and modelling plant growth, crop yield and other plant related activities remotely. This research is achieved through using the state-of-the-art in sensors, Hyperspectral Imaging Spectrometers, Thermal imagers and a range of Multispectral and Spectroscopy based approaches.

Brad has been a Director of the Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network Ecosystem Modelling and Scaling Infrastructure, and Director of Sydney Informatics Hub.

In recent years, Brad has worked on novel ways of mapping plant growth (E.g. NASA’s OCO2 based Solar Induced Fluorescence based model: and innovative ways to improve existing approaches (Nature Plants: ).

Associate Professor Paul Barber

Associate Professor Paul Barber is the Managing Director of ArborCarbon, a Perth based environmental consultancy he co-founded in 2009 and Adjunct Associate Professor at Murdoch University.  He is the Director of ArborCarbon Hong Kong Ltd and Director of Technology and Innovation of Arborflight Ltd based in the UK. All companies combine remote sensing with in-depth knowledge of vegetation communities to provide more sustainable methods of management. He has successfully led and delivered in excess of 200 consulting projects over the past 15 years in South and North America, the Middle East and throughout the Asia Pacific region, many combining his expertise in remote sensing and field techniques. The vast majority of these projects include the development and use of novel and innovative methods for monitoring vegetation across urban, natural and agricultural systems. He sits on the Hong Kong government’s Urban Forest Advisory Panel and has embarked on missions in the Middle East for the FAO of the United Nations as an expert in forest health.