Meet Kelly Sharpless, a die-hard Star Wars fan who went from a career in contemporary literature and film, to organising Astronomy Open Night as part of her role in the Faculty of Science and Engineering.
Kelly was born in Hull in the United Kingdom. She says Hull is famous for being a “City of Culture” where residents are fiercely proud of their town, but they also look forward to leaving and spreading their wings.
Kelly studied at the University of Hull and commenced her education career working as a Learning Mentor at the Hull School of Art and Design. She left Hull and moved to Australia back in 2009, making the move permanent by becoming an Australian citizen during the 2020 lockdown. She’s kept her strong Yorkshire accent and is yet to be converted to a Vegemite lover.
Kelly started at Macquarie in 2017, working primarily as the Outreach Coordinator for the Department of Physics and Astronomy.
“Given my background in contemporary literature and film, I am still unsure how this came about, but I am happy it did as they are an amazing group of people to work with and I have learned so much. Seriously, Physics and Astronomy is so awesome!” says Kelly.
This year, she moved to the Faculty office in FSE working with the FSE Outreach and Engagement Team and she’s recently taken an exciting secondment as the Faculty Project Coordinator working with the Faculty Executive Director on strategic initiatives.
1. Something you’d like staff to know about
The return of Astronomy Open Night! After a two-year pause, we brought back the huge event at Macquarie, giving our university and local community the opportunity to discover the wonders of the night sky. The night was a great success and sold out well in advance. It was wonderful for our community to come together on campus for such a special evening.
Pictured: Astronomy Open Night 2022. Image credit: Kelly Sharpless and Twitter user @cosmicrami.
2. A person you admire at Macquarie, and why
I really admire my former Department Manager, Emma Hastings. I valued her leadership style which allowed me to use my strengths while developing my skills. She remains someone I turn to for advice. I really learned a lot from my time working with her.
3. What you need to do your best work
The chance to be creative and explore new ideas.
4. The coolest bit of equipment you use in your work, and what it does
I have been so lucky to work with the greatest team of technical wizards in Physics and Astronomy. To see behind the scenes at the observatory, to gain access to the labs, and to have a hand in making our “world famous” liquid nitrogen ice cream is something I truly appreciate. So, while I may not use the equipment, I love to organise outreach and engagement experiences that show everyone how incredibly cool Physics and Astronomy is.
5. Something you’ve read recently that has had an impact on you
As a huge Star Wars fangirl, I recently read all of Carrie Fisher’s memoirs. Leia is an icon of strength and determination and so important to many girls growing up when I did. Carrie Fisher writes of her personal battles with addiction and mental health issues with wit and humour but also sadness. It shows just how strong she truly was, even while feeling so lost in herself.
6. Your definition of success
When I have been able to help others to achieve their goals.
7. Where you live and what you like about living there
I moved to the Central Coast six years ago and live in the most lovely, friendly neighbourhood. Even though the commute is long, it is worth it.
8. A personal quality you value in others
Compassion and respect for others.
9. Something you’re trying to do differently in 2022
Professionally: To work more efficiently and to think more strategically. Personally: To work my way through my ever-growing collection of audiobooks.
10. I’m happiest when…
I’m with my family, eating good food, and watching Star Wars. 😊