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Meet the Team

Meet the scientists behind the Fireballs in the Sky project. You can contact any of our scientists at

Professor Phil Bland - Team Leader photo Professor Phil Bland - Team Leader

Phil started out as a geologist, and pretty much got into meteorites by chance. It’s not something he’s ever regretted.

Gretchen Benedix photo Gretchen Benedix

Gretchen is the lead on initial Mineralogy/Petrology of the meteorites found by the Desert Fireball Network.

Jonathan Paxman photo Jonathan Paxman

Jonathan Paxman is the Program Leader in Mechatronics at Curtin University, and has been a member of the Desert Fireball Network team since early in 2012.

Martin Cupak photo Martin Cupak

Martin moved to Perth from Europe and joined the DFN team in January 2013. Martin’s role within the DFN team is to develop software for new digital camera systems, automate data collection and processing and also to keep the DFN cameras networked via the Internet.

Martin Towner photo Martin Towner

Martin started out as a physicist, but moved into planetary science because it’s the closest he can get to being an astronaut. He project manages the network, and tries to keep everything running.

Ellie Sansom photo Ellie Sansom

Ellie joined the team in December 2012 and thinks herself very lucky for being given this opportunity. Ellie moved from the UK to start her PhD working on the Desert Fireball Network.

Robert Howie photo Robert Howie

Robert started working on the project when he started his PhD in 2012 after completing his mechatronic engineering degree.

Ben Hartig  photo Ben Hartig

As a Mechatronic Engineer for the Desert Fireball Network, Ben has been working on the camera system hardware since April 2015.

Lucy Forman photo Lucy Forman

Lucy is one of the PhD students in the team, and moved from the UK in March 2013 to begin her research in this beautiful country.

Luke Daly photo Luke Daly

Luke joined the Australian Desert Fireball Network in March 2013 to undertake his PhD as part of the sample analysis team.

Hadrien Devillepoix photo Hadrien Devillepoix

Hadrien Devillepoix joined the team in September 2014 to start a PhD in using the camera network for new discoveries in astronomy.

Trent Jansen-Sturgeon photo Trent Jansen-Sturgeon

Trent joined the Australian Desert Fireball Network in March 2016 to begin his PhD in using the network for satellite orbital determination and tracking.

Nicole Nevill

Nicole Nevill joined the Desert Fireball Network in 2017 as a part of her PhD, joining the sample analysis team.

Trudi Kennedy photo Trudi Kennedy

Trudi is a geologist with a life-long interest in planetary science and astronomy. She became involved in meteorite studies by joining the Desert Fireball Network team, hunting for meteorites in the Australian bush.

Renae Sayers - Fireballs in the Sky Coordinator photo Renae Sayers - Fireballs in the Sky Coordinator

Through her Planetary Science Outreach role at Curtin, she shares the stories of the Desert Fireball Network seeking the origins of our solar system and grows the Australian Planetary Science community with NASA through the Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute.