Dr Charley Lineweaver at Mount Stromlo Observatory. Photo by Stuart Hay.

Dr Charley Lineweaver at Mount Stromlo Observatory. Photo by Stuart Hay.

Solving one problem at a time

A broad education has taken DR CHARLEY LINEWEAVER from astrophysics to cancer research and everything in between. KATE PRESTT reports.

Dr Charley Lineweaver is a man with a hunger for knowledge in a remarkably diverse range of areas.

His research has been published in journals as varied as the Astrophysical Journal and Microbiology Australia.

He has lived or travelled through 72 countries, spoken four languages semi-fluently at one time or another and was once a semi-professional soccer player in Germany.

But ask where he is from, and his response is surprising.

"I'm from the same place as you - the Big Bang," he says.

Lineweaver is currently Associate Professor at the ANU Planetary Science Institute.

But the astrobiologist is also turning his mind to cancer research.

"You might be wondering what the link between astrobiology and cancer is," he says.

But researching diverse subjects has always been normal for Lineweaver. He grew up in New York where science was a part of his everyday life from an early age. His father was a high school biology teacher.

"We literally had skeletons in the closet and DNA models all over the place at home."

Sitting in his Mount Stromlo office, with a desk strewn with papers relating to his research and shelves filled with books on a range of subjects, Lineweaver is a living example of what can be achieved with a broad education and wide interests.

Despite learning much about biology, Lineweaver's interests were in physics.

Surprisingly, his undergraduate studies were in History and English. But his love of science pulled him back to study physics.

He moved to Germany and Japan before completing a PhD in astrophysics at the University of California, Berkeley, where he worked with Cosmologist George F Smoot, who won the 2006 Nobel Prize in Physics.