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, new location technologies, and space systems, especially those related to extracting water. He is leading the development of space engineering research at ACSER.

Associate Professor Eleanor Bruce, Assistant Deputy Director

Associate Professor Eleanor Bruce is a coastal spatial scientist in the School of Geosciences at the University of Sydney.  Her research focuses on the use of Earth observation and spatial modelling in understanding coastal system response to climate variability.  In leveraging the capabilities of emergent satellite technologies for understanding coastal dynamics, she was part of a research collaboration that gained international recognition for presenting a novel framework to integrate livelihood dynamics within the water–energy–food nexus resulting in $1.6m of research funding. Her research involves the application of ultrahigh resolution Earth observation sensors, spatial modelling and in situ field observation to understand key drivers of coastal change.  As a member of Homeward Bound, Eleanor is passionate about supporting women in STEMM and continues to promote opportunities within the Earth and space sciences through CUAVA.

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.

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 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.

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 – DST Group, 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 – ArborCarbon

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.

Ms Alexandra Jones, PhD student – University of Sydney

Alex Jones is doing a PhD with the School of Geosciences, University of Sydney under the supervision of A/Prof Eleanor Bruce, Dr Kevin Davies, and Prof. Doug Cato. Alex’s research is investigating the use of Jervis Bay, on the south coast of NSW, by humpback whales during their southern migration from breeding grounds on the Great Barrier Reef to Antarctic feeding grounds. Specifically she is looking at mother-calf groups who rest in the Bay. Dedicated land-based theodolite methods are used to track movement patterns and record numbers of whales entering the Bay and boat-based photo-identification methods are used to identify individuals and determine how long they are staying in the Bay. As part of CUAVA, last year UAV surveys were conducted over humpback whales to evaluate the potential for simultaneous image capture from multiple sensors, looking at both RGB and thermal sensors. She is currently in the process of publishing this research. Alex’s final field season will be conducted in 2021.  

Dr Youngho Eun, Postdoctoral Fellow – University of Sydney

Youngho is a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the School of Aerospace, Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering, The University of Sydney. He received his PhD in 2018 from Yonsei University, Korea. He is currently involved in CUAVA-1 satellite mission for the structural design, manufacture, and evaluation. His research involves satellite GNC algorithm and ground-based validation by developing momentum free platforms. He is also interested in artificial intelligence for satellite application such as navigation and communication system. 

Ms Savannah McGuirk, PhD Student – University of Sydney

Savannah is a PhD student developing new ways to help Australian farmers improve the drought resilience of their farms by increasing the amount of carbon stored in their soil. Soil carbon remote sensing is an emerging field which integrates cutting edge remote sensing technology with well-known data analysis techniques and land management ideas. Savannah is also developing tools and techniques which will contribute to climate change mitigation and help farmers to secure a secondary income through the sale of soil carbon credits. Savannah’s research supervisors are Prof Iver Cairns, Dr Bradley Evans and Dr Paul Barber.

Dr David Lingard – DST Group

David Lingard has worked at Defence Science and Technology (DST) Group in Edinburgh, South Australia for over 24 years.  Currently he is the Group Leader Space Systems with responsibility for leading DST’s small satellite experimentation.  In recent years David was the DST Project Manager for the successful Buccaneer Risk Mitigation small satellite mission conducted in partnership with the University of NSW Canberra.  Prior to that David led a team that developed a simulation (STK, Matlab) of the Buccaneer mission to better understand the requirements for the space segment.  Now David’s group is developing the follow-on Buccaneer Main Mission scheduled to launch in 2022.  He also coordinates DST’s participation in the 11-nation Responsive Space Capabilities Memorandum of Understanding. Earlier in his career, David supported a number of Defence projects related to airborne surveillance and reconnaissance, including leading the assessment of the Mariner Demonstrator Medium Altitude Long Endurance Unmanned Aerial Vehicle in 2006.  He attained a PhD in Physics from the University of Queensland in the 1990s.

Dr Terry Cocks – Hyvista Corporation

Dr Terry Cocks graduated from the University of Adelaide and firstly joined the CSIRO Division of Cloud Physics to develop techniques for the remote sensing of cloud properties.  He then joined the CSIRO Division of Mineral Physics to develop airborne instrumentation for the remote sensing of the earth’s surface for applications in geological mapping and mineral exploration. 

In 1989, he left CSIRO to start Integrated Spectronics (now IntSpec Systems), a company to develop and market spectral sensing instruments.  The company released the first hand held SWIR spectrometer for in-field mineral analysis (PIMA) and later the HyMap series of airborne hyperspectal scanners.  The company also developed a field spectrometer for horticultural applications and a prototype imaging spectrometer suitable for deployment on UAV’s 

In 1998, he founded HyVista Corporation to undertake contract airborne hyperspectral surveys and deliver processed maps to clients.  HyVista Corporation went on to become a significant supplier of imagery and maps to a world-wide range of government agencies, research institutions and commercial organisations such as mining companies.

Mr Naif Alsalem, PhD Student – University of Sydney

My research interests span from developing and building high-resolution remote sensing instruments  for air- and space-based platforms to data processing and analysis.

As a PhD student at CUAVA, I am working to develop, build, and calibrate an InGaAs-based high-resolution remote sensing instrument (compact imager) operating in the Short Wavelength InfraRed (SWIR) part of the spectrum. The instrument is currently underdevelopment at CUAVA and Sydney Astrophotonic Instrumentation Laboratory  (SAIL) and will conduct air reconnaissance campaigns from a military-grade UAV, once built, to detect, measure and quantify chemical compositions in the atmosphere. It will also be tested for a space-based platform capability and may qualify for a space flight on one of CUAVA’s CubeSats. I have served as the ground commander of Argus 1000 instrument onboard the Canadian CanX-2 NanoSatellite which is celebrating its 12th year in space. I helped to manage the instrument settings, create observation tables for targets on Earth, and receive the data for processing and analysis. Lessons learned from the CanX-2 mission will be adopted for future space missions at CUAVA. I work under the supervision of Dr. Iver Cairns, Dr. Sergio Leon-Saval and Dr. Christopher Betters.

Ms Tejaswi Shinde, PhD Student – University of Sydney

Tejaswi Shinde has a bachelor degree in mechanical engineering and a post-graduate degree in space systems engineering. Where she manufactured and developed the mini-ion thruster as her thesis explored the use of electrospray thruster to achieve the engraving pattern on the silicon substrate.

Currently, she is a first-year PhD student at the University of Sydney and is supported by CUAVA partner, Saber Astronautics. Her doctoral research investigates the space weather at L4/L5 Lagrange points and its effect on the ion drive engines. Her main research interest center around developing the robust electric propulsion thruster for interplanetary missions. Tejaswi’s research supervisors are Prof. Iver Cairns, Dr Xiaofeng Wu, and Dr Jason Held.

Mr Timothy Snailham, PhD Student – University of Sydney

Tim is a Nanoscience graduate with an Honours project in biosensors from the University of New South Wales. He is undertaking a PhD project in hyperspectral imager production, with a primary focus on developing a smaller, lighter imaging probe that can be implemented into a 1U CubeSat. Other areas of research include increased throughput imaging sensors, hybrid image-spectrometers, and spectral feature-specific imagers. Tim’s supervisors are Prof. Iver Cairns, Assoc. Prof. Sergio Leon-Saval, and Dr. Chris Betters.

Mr Julian Guinane, MPhil Student – University of Sydney

Julian joined CUAVA as an MPhil student in 2022 working on space object detection, tracking and cataloging using star trackers. Julian has worked with CUAVA as an undergraduate student in his role as co-lead of the CROSS star tracker project, where he leads the systems engineering and mechanical design. In 2021, Julian graduated from a combined Bachelor of Engineering Honours (Aeronautical Engineering) and Bachelor of Science (Advanced) majoring in Space Engineering and Physics. Julian’s supervisors are Dr Xiaofeng Wu and Prof Iver Cairns.

Mr Patrick Oppel, Satellite Systems Engineer (Waratah Seed Mission) – University of Sydney

Patrick joined CUAVA in 2019 as a student and worked on the development of the centre’s first CubeSat CUAVA—1, focussing mainly on software and communications. He recently graduated with a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering from KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm Sweden.  As the Waratah Seed Satellite Systems Engineer, Patrick will be developing the 6U Waratah-Seed-1 and CUAVA-2 spacecrafts.