Milky Way
3 May 2018

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, there was a university with some of the world’s leading experts on issues such as space travel, porg evolution, and emotion-grabbing music.

Actually, the time is now and the university is The University of Queensland. In celebration of May the 4th, UQ science, humanities, medical and business experts have volunteered to discuss everyone’s favourite space opera – Star Wars.

All experts listed below are available for media interviews. Contact the media team at or 3365 3310 for any related enquiries.

Wookiee at what turned up at UQ from The University of Queensland on Vimeo.

-  How did the Star Wars universe get all these aliens with slightly different humanoid heads? School of Biological Sciences researcher Ariel Marcy studies how skull shape evolves using 3D scans of Australia’s native, numerous, and surprisingly diverse rodents. Some of her analyses can simulate how skulls of different species ‘morph’ into one another. Contact:, or +61 0473 087 727.

- Porgs are a prolific Star Wars creature, but genetically, how did they come to be? Engagement-focused biologist Dr Gurion Ang has been using the endearing penguin-like creatures as an example in introductory workshops about genetics, evolution and phylogenetic trees – the interconnectedness of life. The popular workshops demonstrate how ducks, seals and puffins would all contribute to the porg’s evolutionary tree. Contact: or (07) 3346 4129.

These are not the drones you are looking for… UQ’s remote sensing research group is available to talk the pros and cons of drone technology. Contact Kate Gadenne, Joint Remote Sensing Research Program,, 0438 727 895.

- Where does the grain come from to make those daily bread rations on Jakku? It turns out you can grow food in space. Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation crop science researcher Dr Lee Hickey has drawn on NASA experiments on growing wheat in space for his own research into speed breeding right here on earth. Contact:, 3365 4805 or @DrHickov.

- There are plenty of alien-looking creatures on our planet. UQ Dinosaur Lab PhD researcher Tim Richards is describing pterosaur fossils discovered in central Queensland. The dinosaur could be a distant cousin of the mynocks (those large flying creatures found in the stomachs of exogorths), but Mr Richard’s results to date indicate they weren't feeding on power cables though...just fish. Contact: or 0408 977 616.

- How come we don’t have functional lightsabers yet? Theoretical physicists explain why. Contact: Tara Roberson, or 0404 516 635.


- Yoda never had to worry about an Airbnb next door, but how would Kylo Ren feel about revolving-door neighbours on Starkiller Base? Tourism expert Professor Sara Dolnicar can tell you about the importance of The First Order owners taking responsibility for bringing new people to the base. Contact:, 3365 6702 or @SaraDolnicar.

- Will Jar Jar Binks ever apologise for being… himself? Associate Professor Tyler Okimoto can explain how it might just be better for his health not to apologise. Contact: or 3346 8043.

- Would Darth Vader be happy sharing an office with Grand Moff Tarkin? Dr Gemma Irving can answer whether open space offices work. Contact:, 3346 8143 or @gemma_irving.

How can Princess Leia manage the Rebel Alliance with such diverse inter-galactic talent? Dr Miriam Moeller can assist the princess through the use of various staffing approaches., 3346 8175 or @uqbs.

- Was Darth Vader’s downfall due to his overconfidence? Associate Professor Barry Oliver has explained that overconfident leaders tend to decrease corporate social responsibility. Contact:, 3346 8037 or @uqbs.

- What makes the people of the Republic trust the Rebel Alliance? Associate Professor Nicole Gillespie can discuss the drivers of organisational trust from a multi-stakeholder perspective. Contact:, 3346 8076 or @uqbs.

- Dun duuun dun dun dun duuuun dunnnn… Can’t get the Star Wars theme song out of your head? The School of Music’s Dr Liam Viney can tell you exactly how music and the Star Wars soundscape is crafted to evoke emotion. Contact: or 3365 3504.