Shane Hengst

Shane Hengst

PhD Student

Location: Sydney, NSW


Shane has always been fascinated with the night sky, seeking to understand the nature of stars and where we belong in the Universe.  His passion led him to undertake a Bachelor of Science (Honours) at Macquarie University and completed a research thesis entitled ‘Dust Grain Dynamics in Protoplanetary Discs’ (2005).  Shane switched gears joining the Antarctic Astronomy team at UNSW to help build a remote observatory on the Antarctic Plateau and earned a Master of Science with the ‘Development of an autonomous diesel power generation system for high-altitude, remote astronomical facility for Antarctica’ (2011).

It was during this time that Shane discovered his passion for teaching.  This led him to various roles at UNSW (including Bridging Course Lecturer and Lab Supervisor) and developing outreach programs, engaging students and the public with science.  Shane joined the Australasian Planetarium Society in 2014, where he served as President from 2015-2019 and is the current treasurer. In 2015, Shane returned to his first research love, Planetary Sciences, and joined USQ (distant/part-time) to undertake his PhD. In the future Shane hopes to combine his two passions – research and teaching – to continue his exploration of the stars and inspire others to look up.

Debris discs: Shane’s current research aims to understand the late-stages in star and disc interaction by modelling the emission and dynamics of dusty grains in debris discs. This involves analysing multi-wavelength, spatially resolved images; applying radiative transfer modelling techniques to the dust continuum; and dynamical modelling of dusty grains surrounding Sun-like stars.

Science education: Shane is also interested in evidence-based research investigating the learning outcomes of science outreach workshops. He is part of Praxical, a team of scientists who believe that the best way to learn science is to do science. The Praxical workshops are designed to both engage participants with science and provide the Praxical team an opportunity to investigate the participants’ scientific literacy.

  • Planetary Sciences (Dust Grain Dynamics in Discs)
  • Science Education