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School of Physical and Chemical Sciences

Professor David Burgess


Professor of Mathematics and Astronomy

Room Number: G. O. Jones Building, Room 519



Advisees: Please contact me by email to arrange meetings if you have any questions.


Research Interests:


  • Space and Astrophysical Plasma Physics
  • Shocks in collisionless plasmas
  • Turbulence and Particle Acceleration in collisionless plasmas
  • Large scale, highly parallel plasma simulation

I am interested in how we can use plasma physics to study natural plasmas, such as the solar wind which blows through the Heliosphere. The space environment motivates much of my work, because we can measure these plasmas in situ, with a spacraft acting like a probe into the plasma - getting ground truth that is practically impossible for other distant astrophysical objects. At the same time what we learn from solar system plasmas can be applied to remote astrophysical environments such as super nova remnant shocks and the interstellar medium. This area of research depends on data from international space missions supported by ESA and NASA, so I have collaborative links with groups across Europe and the USA.

I was Coordinator of the EU FP7 Project SHOCK: SOLAR AND HELIOSPHERIC COLLISIONLESS KINETICS - Link to project web site

Most of my work is theoretical and uses large-scale computer simulations, but I also work using analysis of space craft data. I am involved with several future space missions: I am a Science Co-Investigator on three instruments on the ESA Solar Orbiter mission (Link to ESA mission website), and Science Collaborator on the FIELDS experiment of Solar Probe Plus (Link to NASA mission website).

In recent years I have been Director of the Astronomy Unit (2009-2012), a member of the working group for Workshop on Opportunities in Plasma Astrophysics (Link to workshop website), and Co-convenor of ISSI workshop on Coronal Heating and Solar Wind Acceleration (Link to workshop website).



Here are my astrophysics papers on ADS (misses some non-astrophysics papers at the moment!): Link to ADS search


PhD Projects

Research areas available for PhD study include: solar wind plasma turbulence; shocks in collisionless plasmas, including the Earth’s bow shock and other heliospheric shocks; particle acceleration. Most projects involve using numerical self-consistent particle simulations, but data analysis work using spacecraft data is also possible.

The projects deal with how to apply fundamental properties of plasmas - which can exhibit a vast range of complex behaviour - to space and astrophysical situations. The research field relies on results and collaborations within international space missions.

Current PhD projects include "Effects of reconnection in turbulence" and "Spacecraft thruster effects for Solar Probe Plus."

Possible future projects include:

  • Kinetic dissipation of turbulence in 3D
  • Electron acceleration at shocks
  • Particle acceleration and nonlinear waves at the Quasi-parallel shock
  • Interstellar pick-up ions and waves in the solar wind

This list is not exhaustive! Please contact me for further details about these or other possible projects. See here for application details.

This is not an exhaustive list and I would be happy to discuss other project possibilities.

Project Title
Solar plasma physics
Space and Astrophysical Plasma Physics




I am Coordinator of the EU FP7 Project SHOCK: SOLAR AND HELIOSPHERIC COLLISIONLESS KINETICS - Link to project web site

I am PI of the STFC Consolidated Grant "Astronomy Research at Queen Mary 2012-2015".

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