"My boys say that Mummy works the telescopes and she is an astronomer." - Kate Brooks

“My boys say that Mummy works the telescopes and she is an astronomer.” – Kate Brooks

At work, she operates radio telescopes across Australia to help astronomers learn more about the origins of the Universe. At home, she raises three energetic kids. Meet Kate Brooks, Deputy Head of Operations at Australia Telescope National Facility.

Describe a typical day.

My work day is a mix of emails, scheduled meetings, and impromptu conversations with staff from across the organisation but primarily with my boss and Operations staff at our observatory sites in NSW and Western Australia. There is not enough word space to describe what I do outside of my work day!

Why did you get into science in the first place? 

I always enjoyed physics at school but my passion to be a scientist really came about after completing a CSIRO Vacation Scholarship back in 1993. I loved working with scientists from all over the world, using high-tech facilities and working on really exciting projects.

What attracted you to work at CSIRO? 

After working overseas in Chile for several years I returned to Australia to take up a role with CSIRO Australia Telescope National Facility. I was attracted to working at an international observatory on a job that offered a mix of research as well as support and development work for our state-of-the art telescopes.

Tell us about your children. 

I have three wonderful kids, two boys, Alex aged 9 and Marcus aged 6 and our girl Carla, aged 3. Our boys are bright, active and very sporty and our little girl is into everything pink and certainly keeps her big brothers in line.

It's never a dull moment for this super mum of three!

It’s never a dull moment for this super mum of three!

How do you think your children would describe what you do for a job?

My boys say that “Mummy works the telescopes and she is an astronomer.”

Has being a mum changed how you work? If so, in what way? 

Absolutely. After years of travelling on the international conference circuit and frequently visiting telescopes and astronomy institutes in Chile, the US and Europe, I now keep my travel to an absolute minimum.

Gone are the days of cramming long work days (and nights) in the lead up to major deadlines. I have to carefully manage my time and always have some slack in my schedule in case my children get sick (which happens a lot in the first few years of daycare).

You can visit Australia Telescope National Facility to learn more about our world-class radio astronomy observatories.