Institute People

Institute Management

David Christian

Professor David Christian

Director, Big History Institute


David Christian (D.Phil. Oxford, 1974) is by training a historian of Russia and the Soviet Union. In 1989, he began teaching courses on 'Big History' at Macquarie University, surveying the past on the largest possible scales, including those of biology and astronomy. In 2004, he published the first text on 'Big History'.

In 2009 Bill Gates became very interested in Big History; he contacted David, and they collaborated on developing the free online course that is now available for high school students all over the world.

BHI Headhot Andrw McKenna

Andrew McKenna

Executive Director, Big History Institute
Phone: +61 2 9850 8044

Andrew McKenna is Executive Director of the Big History Institute at Macquarie University.  Andrew coordinates Big History as an integrated and priority activity across the University, and leads the strategic growth and development of the Institute globally.   He engages with businesses, governments, NGOs, and educational institutions around the world. 

Andrew has managed complex corporate research projects in over 70 countries.  He is a member of Chatham House, the European Association for International Education, and ESOMAR.  He has a Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Commerce from the University of New South Wales, and a Master of International Relations from Macquarie University awarded with the Vice-Chancellor's Commendation for Academic Excellence.  

Tracy Sullivan photo

Tracy Sullivan

Education Leader, Big History Institute
Phone: +61 2 9850 7015

Tracy Sullivan is Education Leader of the Big History Institute, managing the Australian arm of the Big History Project and coordinating educational initiatives within the Big History Institute to promote the growth and development of Big History globally. Trained as a secondary history teacher, Tracy taught in Australian classrooms before moving to the tertiary sector lecturing in History Education at the University of New South Wales and the University of Sydney.

A former Churchill Fellow and Westfield Premiers Teachers Scholar, Tracy has a Master of Arts in Modern History and is currently completing a PhD in Education, exploring the impact of Big History as a vehicle for interdisciplinarity at the secondary level.

Shawn Ross

Associate Professor Shawn Ross 

Deputy Director, Big History Institute
Phone: +61 2 9850 7010

Shawn Ross (Ph.D. University of Washington, 2001) is an Associate Professor of History and Archaeology and Deputy Director of the Big History Institute at Macquarie University. A/Prof Rossʼs research interests include the history and archaeology of pre-Classical Greece and the Balkans, and the application of information technology to fieldwork-based humanities and sciences. He  supervises a large-scale landscape archaeology and palaeo-environmental study in central and southeast Bulgaria. Since 2012, he has directed a major information infrastructure project developing data capture, management, and archiving systems. Previously, A/Prof Ross worked at the University of New South Wales (Syndey, Austrlalia) and William Paterson University (Wayne, New Jersey).

BHI Institute People Melinda Stewart

Melinda Stewart

Research Librarian, Macquarie University
Phone: +61 2 9850 4255

Melinda Stewart is a Research Librarian at the Macquarie University Library. As part of the Library team, Melinda works with faculty and other units on campus, to plan and deliver information services across a number of departments in the Faculty of Arts, including Modern History. Before commencing at Macquarie University in early 2013 Melinda had a long career in the corporate sector with many years of experience working largely with R&D teams in both the resources sector, with BHP Billiton, and the FMCG sector with George Weston Foods. Melinda has a Bachelor of Arts (Hons.) in History, and a Master of Arts (Librarianship), both from Monash University. She was the recipient of a Monash Graduate Scholarship and the Blackwell Fieldwork Scholarship. 

Elle Hrobat

Elle Hrobat  

Project Coordinator
Phone: +61 2 9850 4116

Elle Hrobat is Project Coordinator at the Big History Institute.  Elle manages Institute membership and community engagement.  She has a particular focus on supporting the implementation of Big History Project in schools and coordinating Institute professional development programs and resources for teachers and educators.  Elle liaises with members of the Big History community around the world, and is closely involved with Institute outreach events and activities. 

Elle graduated from Macquarie University with a BA in Media & Cultural Studies. She also has an Honours Degree in Critical and Cultural Studies. Before joining the Institute, Elle has worked with Macquarie University in youth education and academic coaching of students as part of the Campus Wellbeing and Support Service.

David Baker

Dr David Baker 

Associate Lecturer 
Phone: +61 2 9850 8839

David Baker studied under David Christian at Macquarie University, and completed the first Big History PhD in the world. He has taught Big History at Macquarie and the University of Amsterdam, and designed his own advanced Big History course. His research specialties are complexity, Universal Darwinism, cultural evolution, and mathematical patterns in human history. He is writer of the Youtube series Crashcourse Big History, hosted by John and Hank Green. He is a curriculum writer for the Big History Project. David has published several scholarly articles on Big History, has co-edited two scholarly collections, and is currently working on publishing his research as a book.