Barbara Catinella


  • The University of Western Australia (M468), 35 Stirling Highway,

    6009 Perth


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Personal profile


I am an observational astronomer at the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR), The University Western Australia. Originally from Italy, where I did my undergraduate studies in Physics, I obtained my PhD in Astronomy in 2005 from Cornell University in the USA, where I worked on the topic of "Internal Kinematics of Disk Galaxies in the Local Universe" under the supervision of Prof Martha Haynes. Afterwards, I held postdoctoral positions at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico (USA) and Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics in Garching (Germany), and moved to Melbourne (Australia) in 2013, when I joined the Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing at the Swinburne University of Technology as an Australian Research Council (ARC) Future Fellow. I have been based at ICRAR, in Perth, since 2015, initially as ARC Future Fellow/Senior Research Fellow, as Principal Research Fellow from 2020 and full Professor since 2023.

Roles and responsibilities

I lead the Local Universe research group at the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research. Nationally, I am a Chief Investigator and former Node Leader of the Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre of Excellence for All Sky Astrophysics in 3D (ASTRO 3D), a former ARC Future Fellow and a former Councillor of the Astronomical Society of Australia. Internationally, I co-chair the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) HI Galaxy Science Working Group and am a member of the steering committee of the International Astronomical Union's Division J (Galaxies and Cosmology).

I co-lead the WALLABY galaxy survey on the Australian SKA Pathfinder (ASKAP) and the MAUVE large program on the European Southern Observatory’s (ESO)  Very Large Telescope.


My main research interest is understanding the role of cold gas in galaxies and its connection with their properties and environment. I used the largest radio telescopes in the world to investigate how cold gas, which is ­ the raw fuel for star formation, ­ cycles in and out of galaxies.

My main contributions include leadership of the GALEX Arecibo SDSS Survey (GASS) and its extension (xGASS), which measured the atomic hydrogen properties of 1200 galaxies. Together with their molecular gas follow-up (xCOLD GASS), these surveys delivered the deepest observations of cold gas in the local Universe, uniquely probing the vastly unexplored gas-poor regime and yielding strong constraints to theoretical models and simulations of galaxy evolution. I also pioneered the application of spectral stacking to the study of gas scaling relations.

My current research focuses on the synergy between radio and optical integral-field spectroscopy observations, taking advantage of data from state-of-the-art surveys such as WALLABY on the Australian SKA Pathfinder (ASKAP), the SAMI Galaxy Survey on the Anglo-Australian Telescope and MAUVE on the European Southern Observatory’s (ESO) 8-meter VLT telescope.

Funding overview

Dr Barbara Catinella, Dr Luca Cortese, Prof Romeel Dave', Dr Amelie Saintonge 2015: 'How do galaxies in groups run out of gas?', ARC Discovery Projects.

Dr Barbara Catinella 2012: 'Using Australia’s next-generation radio telescopes to unveil the gas cycle in galaxies', ARC Future Fellowship

Education/Academic qualification

Astronomy, PhD, Internal Kinematics of Disk Galaxies in the Local Universe, Cornell University

Award Date: 19 Jan 2005

Astronomy, M.S., Cornell University

Award Date: 16 Jan 2002

Research expertise keywords

  • Galaxy evolution
  • Interstellar medium and star formation
  • Atomic and molecular gas surveys


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