CAASTRO theme leader honoured

Tamara Davis

Associate Professor Tamara Davis, who leads CAASTRO’s ‘Dark’ theme, is to receive the 2015 Nancy Millis Medal for Women in Science from the Australian Academy of Science.

Tamara is a member of the School of Mathematics and Physics at the University of Queensland.  A cosmologist, she uses astrophysics to test the fundamental laws of physics and study the nature of dark energy and dark matter. Author of more than 60 publications, including two Nature papers and ten papers with over 100 citations, she is one of the most highly cited astrophysicists in the world, ranking in the top 1%. 

Her professional focus is on determining the nature of dark energy, the cause of the acceleration of the expansion of the universe. During her career Tamara has also:

  • studied fundamental aspects of the expansion of the universe and cosmic horizons (how far we can see),
  • gathered some of the first observational evidence against leading contenders for advanced theories of gravity,
  • measured time-dilation in distant supernovae,
  • discovered that ‘active galaxies’ could be used as a new type of ‘standard candle’ to measure how the expansion of the Universe is accelerating, and
  • put limits on the mass of the neutrino (a fundamental particle) by using the effect it would have on galaxy formation. 


Tamara is a member of the CAASTRO Executive team, and co-leads the science program for OzDES, the largest long-term project currently running on the Anglo-Australian Telescope.

And when not wrestling with cosmic spacetime, she is a keen player of the team field sport Ultimate Frisbee—which is where her leadership skills were first developed, she says.

Tamara Davis leaps to catch a Frisbee.

Tamara in action against the USA at World Beach Champs (Ultimate Frisbee)

The Nancy Millis Medal recognises early-and mid-career women scientists who have demonstrated exceptional leadership and established an independent research program in any branch of the natural sciences. It honours the contributions made to science by the late Professor Nancy Millis AC MBE FAA FTSE and recognises her importance as a role model for aspiring female scientists in Australia.

“Nancy Millis was a microbiologist and an impressive scientific leader. I’m honoured that the Academy has chosen to give me the medal that commemorates her,” Tamara said.  “During her PhD Nancy studied fermentation in cider, which seems appropriate because some fermented beverages might be in order right now!"

Tamara will receive the award at the Academy’s annual  ‘Science at the Shine Dome’ event in Canberra next May.