Melanie Johnston-Hollitt, CEO

A/Professor Melanie Johnston-Hollitt is an internationally prominent radio astronomer working in the space between astrophysics, computer science and big data. She is Director of Astronomy & Astrophysics at Victoria University of Wellington, Chair of the Board of the 60 million dollar Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) radio telescope and a founding member of the Board of Directors of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) Organisation, which is tasked with building the World’s largest radio telescope. In her nearly 20 year career, she has been involved in design, construction, operation and scientific exploitation of several major radio telescopes including the Low Frequency Array in the Netherlands, the MWA in Australia and the SKA which will be hosted in both Australia and South Africa. These instruments produce massive quantities of data, in the case of the SKA it will be in the realms of exabytes per day requiring new and disruptive technologies to allow value to be extracted from the data deluge. As a result her recent interests span the intersection between radio astronomy, signal processing and big data analytics. She is the founding CEO Peripety Scientific and leads a multi-disciplinary team in Wellington, NZ investigating how best to meet the science challenges of these next generation instruments in the big data era. Additionally, she is a prominent academic researcher in astrophysics with nearly 200 publications attracting over 3000 citations and maintains a research group at Victoria University of Wellington. In her career she has obtained over 14 million New Zealand Dollars in competitive research grants including 3 Marsden Grants.

Contact: melanie @

Scientific Publications

Dr Cathie Zheng, Research Fellow

Cathie completed her MSc and PhD in radio astronomy at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2010 and 2013 and worked as a postdoctoral research fellow in the Radio Astronomy Group at Victoria University of Wellington from 2013 - 2017. In her previous position she worked on the Murchison Widefield Array as a member of the Galactic and Extragalactic All-sky Survey (GLEAM) Team. In 2016 she was awarded a Marsden Fast-Start by the Royal Society of New Zealand to work on diffuse foreground models for the detection of he Epoch of Reionisation. Cathie is an expert in radio interferometry imaging and calibration.

Contact: cathie @

Scientific Publications

Dr Siamak Dehghan, Research Fellow

Siamak completed his MSc in Iran in 2010 and subsequently moved to New Zealand to complete his PhD in astrophysics entitled "Weathering the Largest Storms in the Universe" at Victoria University of Wellington (VUW). From 2014 to 2017 he was a postdoctoral fellow at VUW working on the Science Analysis Pipeline for the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) telescope. In 2012 he received an URSI Young Scientist Award for his doctoral research. Siamak's expertise spans a number of areas including radio galaxies and their analytical modelling, pattern recognition, and graphics. He is currently writing analysis software for automated extraction of statistical variations in astronomical datasets.

Contact: siamak @

Scientific Publications

Natalia Primak, PhD Student

Natalia completed an MSc in optical astronomy in 2003 in the Ukraine, she then worked for over a decade as a professional astronomer at institutes across the world, most recently as a part of operation team of the Pan-STARRS project based on Haleakala Observatory in Hawaii. Whilst working for Pan-STARRS Natalia was part of the team that reported over 3000 new minor planets and other transient sources. In late 2016 she moved to Wellington to commence a PhD at VUW on understanding the role of environment on the generation of giant radio galaxies.

Scientific Publications

Stefan Duchesne, PhD Student

Stefan completed his MSc with distinction in radio astronomy at VUW in 2017 and is currently undertaking a PhD examining diffuse emission in galaxy clusters using the Murchison Widefield Array. Stefan's expertise is in source detection in low resolution, low frequency images. At Peripety Scientific Stefan is involved in the imaging team working on MWA II images for a variety of research purposes including, astronomical source detection and space debris tracking.

Scientific Publications

Susie Keel, Research Assistant/Assistant to the CEO

Susie is in the process of completing her undergraduate degree in Physics and English Literature. At Peripety Scientific Susie has a variety of tasks spanning administration and research. In addition to her role making things happen she's also involved in exploitation of data from the Murchison Widefield Array.


We work regularly with local and international experts spanning signal and image processing, statistical analysis, data analytics and management. In particular we have ongoing projects with:

and are able to incorporate their expertise into new projects.