Lawyer joins university’s space mission

Claire Halliday
Claire Halliday

The University of Adelaide has appointed one of the country’s leading legal experts to contribute to space law and existing major projects.

Professor Melissa de Zwart is recognised as a thought leader in the application of law to emerging technology and is re-joining the institution’s community of world-leading researchers.

“This is a prestigious appointment: Professor de Zwart has an outstanding international profile in the area of international and domestic space law, as well as an extensive track record in internet law,” said the University of Adelaide’s Professor John Williams, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Business, Law and Economics.

“She is undoubtedly a national and international leader in the space law field, and she will make an excellent contribution to this emerging strength for South Australia.”

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Recruiting top talent

The recruitment decision, under the Top Talent ll scheme, saw Professor de Zwart – who will be based in the University’s Andy Thomas Centre for Space Resources (ATCSR) – officially commence her new role on Monday 4 September.

“I am very happy to be returning to the University of Adelaide, given its strengths in the areas of defence and space,” said Professor de Zwart.

“My role in the ATCSR will give me the opportunity to collaborate with a multidisciplinary team of experts who are focused on solving the one of greatest challenges of the future: how to live and work in space in a sustainable way.

“The projects undertaken by the ATCSR provide national and international leadership in the areas of access to and use of outer space. I will be very pleased to continue the work I have been doing with them, since their foundation, as part of the Deep Space Habitation Group and lead of the space law theme.”

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The University of Adelaide’s Associate Professor John Culton, Director of the ATCSR said: “Professor de Zwart’s internationally recognised leadership in the field of space law brings critical expertise to our cutting-edge efforts in realising a dynamic and exciting future for humanity in space.”

Professor de Zwart’s work looks at the domestic and international legal frameworks that underpin the use of space and will further support her contribution to the recently announced ARC Centre of Excellence in Plants 4 Space. The University of Adelaide is a Foundational Australian University partner in this major global collaborative transdisciplinary venture.

“In advancing our position as a leader in space research, I am truly delighted that Professor de Zwart is re-joining the University as part of our Top Talent pool,” said the University of Adelaide’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research, Professor Anton Middelberg.

“Her research will play a key role in the continued strengthening of both the University’s Adelaide Law School and the Andy Thomas Centre for Space Resources.”

Professor de Zwart’s previous role was Professor (Digital Technology, Security and Governance) Jeff Bleich Centre for the US Alliance in Digital Technology, Security and Governance at Flinders University. She holds a PhD from Monash University, an LLM from the University of Melbourne, and a BA (Hons) and LLB (Hons) from the University of Melbourne, as well as a Graduate Certificate in Higher Education from Monash and a Graduate Certificate in Higher Education (Online Learning) from the University of Adelaide.

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Prior to Flinders University, Professor de Zwart commenced at the University of Adelaide in 2011 and was the Dean of Law from 2017 until 2021. She has also held visiting positions at the University of Amsterdam (2002), and National University of Singapore (2006 and 2017).

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Claire Halliday has an extensive career as a full-time writer - across book publishing, copywriting, podcasting and feature journalism - for more than 25 years. She lives in Melbourne with children, two border collies and a grumpy Burmese cat. Contact: claire.halliday[at]