David Coward

Associate Professor, BSc Murd., PhD W.Aust., Science Director Zadko Telescope

  • The University of Western Australia (M013), 35 Stirling Highway, Room 2.63, Physics Building, Perth campus

    6009 Perth


  • 20678 Citations
  • 59 h-Index
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Personal profile


His early work on gravitational waves focused on modelling and simulation of gravitational wave background noise. This work evolved in new directions, including the development of a new data analysis algorithm that uses records of the temporal and spatial pattern of rare events in data to predict the occurrence of even rarer events. The methods found novel applications well beyond their original focus, such as predicting the occurrence of very bright gamma ray bursts.

Coward has received a broad mentorship that reflects his refusal to be restricted to a single research niche.

In 2004, Coward took the bold step of branching out into gamma ray burst and optical transient astronomy, receiving mentorship from experts in this field including the highly cited Tsvi Piran. Following this Coward received mentorship from B. Schmidt, UWA ICRA leaders, and a team of leading French astronomers, Boer and Klotz, for the installation and operation of the Zadko Telescope (Australia’s premier facility for gamma ray burst follow-up).
Coward is a member of the LIGO Scientific Community (burst group), and participates in the E.M. follow-up of gravitational wave events as an “advocate” and is named on an MoU for a joint France/Zadko follow-up. He is also named as an investigator on the high-energy detector satellite mission XMM-Newton. In 2013, Coward was invited to collaborate with the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Antarctic astronomy. This allowed access to optical data from robotic telescopes (AST3) operating at Dome C Antarctica.

Roles and responsibilities

Research leader:

Science Director Zadko telescope (http://www.zt.science.uwa.edu.au/)

In 2006, Coward commenced work as project manager and lead scientist for managing the construction, installation and commissioning of the UWA Zadko Telescope. Coward led the Australian team that is working in partnership with French astronomers to establish a network of robotic telescopes (Zadko is the Australian node), for multi-messenger astronomy.
The facility plays a niche role in Australian astronomy, as it is the only meter class optical facility in Australia dedicated to automated follow-up imaging of alerts or triggers received from different external instruments/detectors spanning the entire electromagnetic spectrum.

Funding overview

Coward and has team has received over $1 Million in funding from the National and State Governments.

Current projects

Coward is a CI on the ARC center of excellence for Gravitational Astronomy (OzGrav)


His core project is gravitational wave data analysis and gamma ray bursts

AS Science Director of the Gingin-based Zadko telescope, Coward has enabled many other research projects, including the follow-up of solar system bodies from the Gaia satellite, rare asteroid shape reconstruction using Zadko photometry, coincident optical and radio (MWA) observations of flare stars to name but a few.

Coward is also a contributing member of LIGO, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (https://www.ligo.caltech.edu/)

Teaching overview

2019 (upcoming)

Course co-ordinator: SCIE1122_SUM_CR




Course co-ordinator: SCIE1122 Our Solar System

2015 -2018:
Electricity (first year)
Special Relativity (first year)

Research interests


  • Astronomy
  • Astrophysics
  • Gamma ray bursts
  • Data analysis
  • Gravitational waves
  • Seismic studies

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Research Output 2001 2019

A Fermi Gamma-Ray Burst Monitor Search for Electromagnetic Signals Coincident with Gravitational-wave Candidates in Advanced LIGO's First Observing Run

LIGO Scientific Collaboration and Virgo Collaboration, 20 Jan 2019, In : Astrophysical Journal. 871, 1, 90.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
LIGO (observatory)
gamma ray bursts
gravitational waves
1 Citation (Scopus)

Constraining the p-Mode-g-Mode Tidal Instability with GW170817

LIGO Scientific Collaboration and Virgo Collaboration, 13 Feb 2019, In : Physical Review Letters. 122, 6, 061104.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
gravitational waves
neutron stars

Joint gravitational wave - gamma-ray burst detection rates in the aftermath of GW170817

Howell, E. J., Ackley, K., Rowlinson, A. & Coward, D., May 2019, In : Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. 485, 1, p. 1435-1447 13 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
28 Citations (Scopus)

Properties of the Binary Neutron Star Merger GW170817

LIGO Scientific Collaboration and Virgo Collaboration, 2 Jan 2019, In : Physical Review X. 9, 1, 011001.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
binary stars
neutron stars
gravitational waves
LIGO (observatory)
1 Citation (Scopus)

Search for Multimessenger Sources of Gravitational Waves and High-energy Neutrinos with Advanced LIGO during Its First Observing Run, ANTARES, and IceCube

LIGO Scientific Collaboration and Virgo Collaboration, 10 Jan 2019, In : Astrophysical Journal. 870, 2, 134.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
LIGO (observatory)
gravitational waves

Projects 2008 2023


France-Australia Science Innovation Collaboration

David Coward (Recipient), 2016

Prize: Other distinction

radio bursts
space debris

Yachad Scholar

David Coward (Recipient), 14 Feb 2012

Prize: Other distinction


Our Solar System

David Coward



Press / Media

West Australians urged to watch rare blood moon

David Coward


1 media contribution

Press/Media: Press / Media

UWA helps NASA observe eclipse of Saturn's moon

David Coward


1 media contribution

Press/Media: Press / Media

Stars line up to give closer view of Saturn’s moon Titan

David Coward


1 media contribution

Press/Media: Press / Media