I am a lecturer at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) and head their Astrophysics Research Group where I supervise various post-graduate research projects. I also coordinate the astrophysics minor and lecture in PVB210 - Stellar Astrophysics, PVB220 - Cosmology, SEB104B - Grand Challenges in Science - Space exploration

I am also an adjunct research fellow at the University of Southern Queensland (USQ). My research involves extragalactic astronomy and cosmology, including galaxy formation and evolution, star-formation, actively accreting supermassive black holes (active galactic nuclei, AGN), multi-wavelength photometry, infrared spectroscopy, and spectral energy distribution modelling.

Contact Information

Email : michael.cowley [at]

Website :

Phone : +617 3138 9197

Location: QUT Gardens Point, E Block, Room 501, 2 George St, Brisbane City QLD 4000


The FourStar Galaxy Evolution Survey (ZFOURGE)

ZFOURGE is a large and deep medium-band imaging survey aimed at establishing an observational benchmark of galaxy properties at high redshift. The survey was carried out using an extremely efficient near-infrared FOURSTAR instrument on the Magellan telescope, in three HST legacy fields: COSMOS, CDFS, and UDS.

[WEBSITE] Survey Home Page

[VIDEO] Family Tree of Galaxies

[NEWS ARTICLE] The Conversation

[PUBLICATION] Straatman, C. M. S., et al. [29 authors, including Cowley, M. J.], ApJ, 830, 51 (2016)

Impact of Supermassive Blackholes on their Host Galaxies

Located in the centres of most massive galaxies, supermassive black holes (SMBHs) are objects of extreme density up to billions of times more massive than our Sun. When matter falls into these monster black holes, vast amounts of energy is released, evidence of which is sometimes observed on scales far beyond the galaxy itself. This research investigates the impact this enegery has on the evolution of galaxies.

[NEWS ARTICLE] The Australian


[MAGAZINE ARTICLE] Australasian Science Magazine

[PUBLICATION] Cowley, M. J., Spitler, L.R., Tran, K.-V., et al., MNRAS, 457, 629–641 (2015)

[PUBLICATION] Cowley, M. J., Spitler, L.R., Papovich, C., et al., MNRAS, 473, 3710-3716 (2017)

The ZFIRE Galaxy Survey

Galaxy clusters are the most over-dense environments in the universe and are an extreme laboratory for studying the physical processes that govern cosmological mass assembly, galaxy formation and evolution. With the growing number of known galaxy clusters at z~2, it is now possible to track how baryons cycle between stars, winds, and the ISM when cluster galaxies are still forming a large fraction of their stars. ZFIRE is the first comprehensive study to target hundreds of individual cluster galaxies at this pivotal epoch.

[WEBSITE] Survey Home Page

[PUBLICATION] Nanayakkara, T., et al. [14 authors, including Cowley, M. J.], ApJ, 828, 21 (2016)

Other Research

I am a research scientist who has worked in various scientific fields, including astrophysics, lightning physics, medical physics, and physics education. I have contributed to over 30 published papers in numerous international peer-reviewed journals, which have been cited over 700 times.

[WEBSITE] My Publications

[VIDEO] My TEDx talk on Astronomy Funding

Australian Astronomy Presentations and Seminars (COVID-19 Edition)