I’m a Professor of Astrophysics in the School of Physics & Astronomy at The University of Manchester and Associate Director of Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics.
My research concentrates on the study of exploding stars – mainly nova outbursts caused by thermonuclear explosions on the surface of white dwarfs in binary star systems.
Over the years, I’ve developed expertise in a wide range of astrophysical techniques. I started as a theorist, working for 3 years on a model of a single stellar explosion (without even considering where it might be in the sky in case I fancied a look myself). However, since then I’ve used large telescopes around the world and in space, working across the spectrum from radio waves to X-rays whilst also carrying out numerical simulations of the aftermath of the explosions using our own hydrodynamic codes. Recently I’ve also developed an interest in the search for extra-terrestrial civilisations (SETI). Not found any yet though.
In addition to an academic’s usual contributions to research and teaching, I’m also the School’s Director of Teaching & Learning. This means having overall responsibility for managing the teaching of over one thousand students on our physics degree programmes at Manchester.
I also carry out a wide range of public engagement activities including extensive work with the media and events at Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre and elsewhere. I often contribute to TV and radio news, commenting on topical space-related events. I’m currently the President of the Society for Popular Astronomy.
One of our current major public engagement projects is the bluedot festival at Jodrell Bank – a celebration of music, science, technology and the arts. We are also developing projects to celebrate and protect the scientific heritage of Jodrell Bank, including the nomination of the Observatory as a World Heritage Site.
Kelvin Medal, Institute of Physics