I am an astrophysicist with interest in a range of topics in star and planet formation, though my main focus at present is understanding how planet formation happens in different types of environment. I primarily use a mixture of computer simulations and real observations in my research.
I joined QMUL in 2019 as a Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Fellow and proleptic lecturer.
In 2014 I completed my PhD at the University of Exeter and moved to the Institute of Astronomy in Cambridge as a postdoctoral researcher. Starting in 2016, I then spent 3 years as an Imperial College Junior Research Fellow before being awarded a Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowship and moving to QMUL in 2019.
Lin Qiao (PhD student)
Sébastien Paine (PhD student, starting Jan 2023)
Giulia Ballabio (PDRA)
If you are interested in applying for an RAS summer studentship please contact me well in advance of the summer, around December time ideally. This gives us time to write a case for support.
Grégoire Canchon (2022)
Enzo Olivieri-Cortes (2022)
Julienne Hisole (2022)
Zuzanna Kocjan (2020)
Stanley Cheung (2019)
Emma Albertini (2018)
I teach the masters level course Radiative Transfer and Astrochemistry, formerly "Electromagnetic Radiation in Astrophysics". This is all about understanding how light is emitted, propagates and is detected. This is strongly linked to research in astrophysics, since we have to infer pretty much everything we know about the wider Universe from light alone (though we now have gravitational waves too!). In this course we understand how astronomers estimate masses, temperatures and velocities of real astrophysical systems. We also study how light also affects how systems evolve in astrophysics, be it by evaporating the atmosphere of a planet, starving planet-forming discs of material or re-ionising the Universe. With the new links to astrochemistry we also study how astrochemistry differs from chemistry on the Earth and how to calculate the chemical stucture of basic astrophysical systems. Of course we also connect everything in the course to study how light affects the composition of astrophysical gases. This course really focuses on the link to modern research. The concepts covered are also important beyond astrophysics, being applied for example to medical research and climate modelling.
I also supervise undergraduate and Masters level research projects. Where possible these are on unsolved problems that I have been working on.
I am interested in many topics in astrophysics, including
- Understanding planet diversity in terms of wider diversity in the universe
- Protoplanetary disc photoevaporation (internally and externally)
- Peter Pan discs
- The evolution of star forming regions
- Feedback and triggered star formation
- Photosnythesis on exoplanets
- Cloud-cloud collisions
- Synthetic observations (of pretty much anything)
- Radiation hydrodynamics
- Code comparison (StarBench)
My main research focus is understanding how planet formation happens in different environments. Planets are formed from flattened discs of material around young stars, and young stars are found in clustered groups. Depending on the cluster, these stars can shine on one another with UV light and evaporate the discs, which can affect how planets form. We have been able to see this for some time in the strongest UV environment, but don’t know what happens to most discs, which are shone upon by more intermediate UV radiation fields. I have developed world leading models of this evaporation of discs and am now leading an observing campaign to try and catch the process in action in the most common UV environments.
I primarily use computer simulations in my research, but also work with real observations from state of the art facilities such as ALMA.
Examples of research funding:
I am currently funded by a Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowship.
A list of my publications can be found here
I am strongly engaged in public outreach, for example
- Launching bottle rockets with Carealot Day Nursery in Chelmsford
- Speaking for QMFutures.
- I am part of the creativity and curiosity art-science collaboration (https://www.creativityandcuriosity.com/)
- I was special guest on the exoplanet podcast (http://www.exocast.org/exocast-35b/)
- I spoke at the Berlin Großplanetarium for Berlin Science week in 2019
- School visits (Maple Cross Primary and Hilltop Primary)
- I have given talks for Crayford Manor Astronomical Society and the London Amateur Astrophysics Group (LAAG).