Abilities Collective @ Curtin: A conversation with astronomer and Associate Lecturer Dr Tim Galvin

27/01/22. Questions by Carmelle Wilkinson.

Curtin astronomer and Associate Lecturer Dr Tim Galvin

Image: Dr Tim Galvin

Being legally blind means Dr Tim Galvin from the Curtin Institute of Radio Astronomy may never be able to gaze through a telescope and admire the stars, but that hasn’t stopped the 32-year-old from studying the wonders of the night sky.

Helping to interpret vital data for the international project the Murchison Widefield Array, Tim helps create stunning visuals of our Southern sky and beyond.

As a member of the Abilities Collective @ Curtin, Tim joins a group of staff members with disabilities (and non-disabled members) who are helping to forge a brighter and more accessible future.

With a passion for astronomy, a sharp scientific mind and a healthy dose of determination, Tim is a shining example of how to realise your dreams despite considerable challenges.

Read his inspiring story below.

Hi Tim, how does someone who is visually impaired decide to pursue a career in astronomy?

For years I wanted to be a pilot. Like many young boys I was fascinated with aviation and for a long time that’s all I could see myself doing. But in my late teens I realised that dream would never be fulfilled, and I had to have a serious rethink.

As someone who has always been interested in computers the natural progression was to study Computer Science at university. After two years working in the field, I soon realised it wasn’t for me, and this then led me to my real passion – astronomy.

For me, studying galaxies is a reminder of just how small we really are in this big wide universe. It gives us greater appreciation and understanding of where we are and what’s around us.

Can you tell me a bit about your personal background and your journey with Curtin?

Born and raised in Sydney, I moved to Perth about four years ago to take part in a post-doctoral position at CSIRO before landing my current role at the Curtin Institute of Radio Astronomy, where I’ve now been for two years.

To me I had a typical childhood, I grew up with my mum, dad, brother and sister and I was no different to my peers. It wasn’t until I was about 4 or 5 years of age that my condition, known as Choroideremia, was diagnosed.

With no symptoms and no expression of the condition, apart from some trouble seeing at night, it was picked up through a routine check-up at the ophthalmologist one day. The degenerative, inherited condition causes progressive vision loss over time, which has seen my eyesight deteriorate quite a bit over the years.

I was lucky enough to have my driver’s licence for 2-3 years before my doctor said I had lost too much vision and would no longer be able to get behind the wheel.

If I was to describe what I can see, I would say it’s like looking through a very narrow tunnel – much like a toilet roll. I see light at the end of the tunnel but not the darkness around it. If I’m centred on an object or text I can read it comfortably with my good eye, but it’s very difficult to pick up motion and movement around me.

When someone thinks of an astronomer, they may imagine them bent over their desk peering through a telescope, but that’s not the case with me. I can wholeheartedly say I’ve never been able to see through a telescope and I probably never will.

Luckily with radio astronomy I don’t have to though, as I use radio telescopes to pick up radio waves which I then interpret using filter and algorithms to calculate images.

What challenges have you faced in your life? And how does living with a visual impairment affect your work at Curtin?

It was heartbreaking for a long time, just things people wouldn’t think twice about like tying your shoelaces was a challenge.

Moving to Perth on my own four years ago, without the support of my family was a huge adjustment. Finding my way around a new city and getting familiar with the layout of the local supermarket did take some time.

While there are things that I still struggle with, such as crossing a busy street or trying to navigate a crowded café, for the most part being legally blind doesn’t stop me from doing what I love.

Working at Curtin, I don’t find my visual impairment to be a disadvantage at all. Using supercomputers I’m able to transform massive amounts of raw data into images of tens of thousands of galaxies, and that’s an incredible experience.

As a member of the Abilities Collective @ Curtin what are some of your goals?

For a start, knowing I’m a part of a group facing similar challenges is reassuring.

Starting at a new workplace is daunting for anyone, especially for someone with a disability, which is why the Abilities Collective @ Curtin is so important.

The group explores ways to support disability inclusion and access at Curtin, through building modifications, workplace adjustment and parking and accessibility around campus.

Changes to my office space after an initial assessment has greatly enhanced my day-to-day work life, and just small things such as adding a bright green strip to previously all-white poles at my building have allowed for greater visibility when walking around.

It’s reassuring having a collective like this for likeminded people in similar positions to myself to network, share experiences and improve our working space so it is more inclusive and accessible to everyone.

At the end of the day, we aren’t identical in our circumstances, but we are all working towards a common goal.

Just being aware there are staff and students who may have physical issues getting around a big Campus with multiple buildings, steps, and footpaths is a step in the right direction.

Together we can create change for the better.

Do you have any words of wisdom for someone who may feel they are limited by their physical or mental disability?

Pursue something you love doing, even though there are difficulties.

There will always be great people around you to support you and help you overcome those hurdles that appear.

The Abilities Collective @ Curtin is a group of Curtin University staff members with disabilities and allies who want to see positive change for people with disabilities studying and working at Curtin.

___

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Teaching English at Wesley College since 2020, Adam is a passionate educator driven to empower his students to understand the art of good writing.
 
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1. 𝐖𝐡𝐲 𝐝𝐢𝐝 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐝𝐞𝐜𝐢𝐝𝐞 𝐭𝐨 𝐛𝐞𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐞 𝐚 𝐂𝐁𝐒𝐀𝐀 𝐎𝐩𝐞𝐫𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐚𝐥 𝐂𝐨𝐦𝐦𝐢𝐭𝐭𝐞𝐞 𝐌𝐞𝐦𝐛𝐞𝐫? When I completed my MBA at Curtin one of the most valuable parts of the program  one of the most valuable parts of the program was the network I had built. I wasn’t ready for that aspect to finish, so I joined the CBSAA committee to help curate the kind of events that I would like to attend and could bring my study pals together again! 

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Meet Curtin Business School Alumni Association Operational Committee Member Sarah Kahle. 👋

As a Curtin Master of Business Administration graduate, Sarah is passionate about helping aspiring entrepreneurs and startups thrive as Curtin’s Manager of Entrepreneurship Programs & Community.

We sat down with Sarah to learn about her role at CBSAA. 👀

1. 𝐖𝐡𝐲 𝐝𝐢𝐝 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐝𝐞𝐜𝐢𝐝𝐞 𝐭𝐨 𝐛𝐞𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐞 𝐚 𝐂𝐁𝐒𝐀𝐀 𝐎𝐩𝐞𝐫𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐚𝐥 𝐂𝐨𝐦𝐦𝐢𝐭𝐭𝐞𝐞 𝐌𝐞𝐦𝐛𝐞𝐫? When I completed my MBA at Curtin one of the most valuable parts of the program  one of the most valuable parts of the program was the network I had built. I wasn’t ready for that aspect to finish, so I joined the CBSAA committee to help curate the kind of events that I would like to attend and could bring my study pals together again!

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5. 𝐅𝐢𝐧𝐚𝐥𝐥𝐲, 𝐜𝐚𝐧 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐬𝐡𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐚 𝐬𝐮𝐫𝐩𝐫𝐢𝐬𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐟𝐚𝐜𝐭 𝐚𝐛𝐨𝐮𝐭 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫𝐬𝐞𝐥𝐟? I was a tour manager for many big Aussie bands in the early 2000’s, and I once organised a hip hop festival! 😊🎶

Find out more about the Curtin Entrepreneurs via the link in bio. 👆

#CurtinUniversity #CurtinAlumni #CBSAA #Business #Commerce #Graduates #Community #Entrepreneurship #Events #Perth #GivingBack #Startup #PerthBusiness #PerthSmallBusiness #PerthStartup #PerthIsOk #Entrepreneur
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Proud Ballardong Noongar Yorga and Curtin graduate Kass Boladeras is passionate about making lasting change for young LGBTIQA+ people like herself. 🏳️‍🌈

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Read the full interview via the link in bio. 👆🏼

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We are beyond delighted to hear four Curtin alumni have received 2024 King’s Birthday Honours! 🎉👏

Congratulations to the following graduates on your exceptional contributions across the business, mining, and disability sectors:

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#CurtinUniversity #CurtinAlumni #KingsBirthday #Honours #Australia #Business #Mining #Disability #Leadership #Perth #Global #Recognition #Community
...

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Nominations close tonight Friday, 7 June at 5PM (AWST), find out more via the link in bio. 👆

#CurtinUniversity #CurtinAlumni #AlumniAwards #Impact #Business #Health #Children #Family #Ngala #Community #CommunityService #Changemakers #Leaders #Perth #Career #Leadership
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What does a day in the life of a world-renwoned orangutan advocate look like? 🦧🌴

For more than three decades, Curtin Applied Sciences graduate Leif Cocks has worked tirelessly for orangutans to improve their welfare in captivity and ongoing survival in the world.

As Founder of The Orangutan Project, Leif has been instrumental in developing vital conservation plans for orangutans and through his charity has raised over $22 million for orangutan conservation since 1998.

His current work with partners in the Bukit Tigapuluh National Park in Sumatra is helping breathe life back into a region that saw orangutans become extinct in the 1830s.

This World Environment Day, Leif shares what it’s like to get up close and personal with these noble creatures on one of his Eco Tours in the Bukit Tigapuluh National Park.

Learn more about Leif’s incredible work in #CurtinCommons via link in bio. 👆

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Internationally acclaimed artist-jeweller, historian, and author, Dr Dorothy Erickson has dedicated her multi-faceted art career to elevating WA’s art and design history! 🎨🎓

Exhibiting since 1972, Dorothy has had over 40 solo exhibitions and more than 350 group exhibitions in Australia and Europe.

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Do you know a Curtin graduate making a significant impact? Nominate them for a Lifetime Achievement Award today! 🌟

Nominations close 5PM (AWST) on Friday, 7 June. Find out more via the link in bio. 👆

#CurtinUniversity #CurtinAlumni #AlumniAwards #Impact #Community #LifetimeAchievement #Art #Jewellery #Environment #Design #Changemakers #Leaders
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If you’re an aspiring entrepreneur or corporate innovator, Curtin Ignition is the ideal intensive training program to trial and prepare your business idea for the commercial world!💡🌏

By the end of the program, you will gain: 

🏆 Key skills to ensure your business effectively responds to the needs of your target customers. 

🏆 Access to a significant network of contacts within the WA investor and business community. 

🏆 Confidence to plan next steps for your business. 

The Curtin Ignition program will run from Sunday 1 September to Friday 6 September 2024. 

Participation costs $3,750 (ex GST) per person but there are a range of fully funded scholarships on offer each year from a variety of sponsors. 

Find out more about the Ignition program here 👇https://shorturl.at/xUqzr

#CurtinUniversity #CurtinAlumni #CurtinIgnition #Program #Business #PerthBusiness #Perth #Incubator #Entrepreneur #SmallBusiness #Entrepreneurship #Innovation

Applications for the 2024 Curtin Ignition program are now open! 📣

If you’re an aspiring entrepreneur or corporate innovator, Curtin Ignition is the ideal intensive training program to trial and prepare your business idea for the commercial world!💡🌏

By the end of the program, you will gain:

🏆 Key skills to ensure your business effectively responds to the needs of your target customers.

🏆 Access to a significant network of contacts within the WA investor and business community.

🏆 Confidence to plan next steps for your business.

The Curtin Ignition program will run from Sunday 1 September to Friday 6 September 2024.

Participation costs $3,750 (ex GST) per person but there are a range of fully funded scholarships on offer each year from a variety of sponsors.

Find out more about the Ignition program here 👇https://shorturl.at/xUqzr

#CurtinUniversity #CurtinAlumni #CurtinIgnition #Program #Business #PerthBusiness #Perth #Incubator #Entrepreneur #SmallBusiness #Entrepreneurship #Innovation
...