If you’re a student looking to join my group, this section will give you a broad idea of the sorts of things I’m interested in, and of the types of projects that students have done under my supervision over the years. PhD applications are usually invited by the 1st of February of each year, for an August/September start of the same year. A list of projects I have on offer are online. If you’re an undergraduate student looking for research experience, you are welcome to contact me to discuss opportunities, funding and projects. Whilst I don’t expect you to have a well defined idea of a project, it will be useful if you could consider what area you would like to work on, in broad terms.
I work in extragalactic science and observational cosmology. I am interested in understanding how galaxies form and evolve, particularly the role of large-scale structure and the cosmic web in that process. In the past, I have done work on galaxy spectral fitting, cosmic microwave background, large-scale structure and observational cosmology and occasionally I still like to think about those things. I feel most at home in large spectroscopic extragalactic survey collaborations, and I’m currently a member of SDSS-IV and DESI.
A list of talks and activities is here (not always complete, or up to date).
Current group members
Zoe Harvey (PhD candidate 2022-2026). Zoe is investigating how we can constrain the gas content of the cosmic web filaments using absorption features in the spectra of background quasars.
Marta Ramos (PhD Candidate 2020-2024). Marta is currently developing fibre-aperture corrections for galaxies in DESI using MaNGA.
Harry Chittenden (PhD candidate 2019-2024). Harry has developed a semi-recurrent neural network to investigate how well we can recover star-formation and chemical enrichment history of galaxies from dark-matter only information.
Veronika Vašíčková (MPhys research student 2022-2023). Veronika is studying how to use models of the evolution of the large-scale clustering of galaxies to improve measurements of redshift-space distortions.
Hannah Langdon (MPhys research student 2022-2023). Hannah is using simulations to understand the main drivers of the scatter in the gas metallicity – stellar mass relation.
Abigail Tumborang (MPhys research student 2022-2023) Abigail is using the Theran simulation to understand the impact of reionisation topology and conditions on the evolution of galaxies.
Past group members
Abbie Burden, Chloe Currie, Lorene Dixon, Mohammed Ali, Reobameng Lefhoko (summer research students 2022 – 1st cohort of The St Andrews L’Oréal Astrophysics Research Skills Summer Programme).
Charlie Gamblin (MSc research student 2021-2022). Charlie studied the impact of the cosmic wen on the metallicity gradients of galaxies using MaNGA data.
Thomas van Aalten (MPhys research student 2021-2022 + summer 2022). Thomas used simulations to isolate specific aspects of the effect of the cosmic web on the growth of halos and galaxies.
Carolyn Mill (MPhys research student 2021-2022). Carolyn performed a spacial clustering analysis on the final MaNGA dataset to investigate how clustering depended on spatially-resolved properties of galaxies.
Sarah Johnston (MPhys research student 2021-2022). Sarah used simulations to understand how the cosmic web, and its effect on the growth of halos, can be used as a probe of dark matter models.
Callum Donnan (MPhys research student 2020-2021 + Summer 2021). Callum used SDSS data to study the effect of the cosmic web on the gas phase metallicity-stellar mass relation.
Nathan Findlay (Undergraduate summer research student Summer 2021). Nathan used simulations to investigate how we can use dynamical modelling to understand the assembly of galaxy clusters.
Abigail Tumborang (Undergraduate summer research student Summer 2021). Abigail studied how resolution affects in simulations affect the gas-phase metallicity – stellar mass relation.
Tristan Fraser (MSc research student 2019-2020+ Summer 2021). Tristan studied how using unsupervised clustering in galaxy observables can help identify different populations of galaxies.
Mathilda Avirett-Mackenzie (MSc research student 2019-2020). Mathilda used early survey validation data in DESI to study how well we might be able to measure velocity dispersion from absorption features in optical spectra.
Ian Russel (MPhys research student 2019-2020). Ian used simulations to estimate how well we expected to measure velocity dispersion from absorption features in DESI spectra.
Dominic Bates (PhD student 2014-2018). Dom used clustering redshifts to develop a new way to measure stellar mass functions, luminosity functions and target completeness from spectroscopic surveys.
Kian Shakerin (MPhys research student 2018-2019). Kian studied the spacial clustering of an early MaNGA sample.
Connar Rowan (Undergraduate summer research student). Connar investigated how measured effects of the cosmic web on galaxy properties depend on the type of estimator used to detect the cosmic web.
Lizzie Eardley (PDRA 2015). Lizzie studied how the cosmic web impacted on the halo and galaxy properties in a semi-analytic simulation.
Amy Rankine (Undergraduate summer research student 2015). Amy investigated limitations of spectral fitting in galaxies using Stan.
Education and outreach
I am interested in the role of current scientific research and data in effective and impactful classroom activities and professional learning for Physics teachers. My group and I develop classroom resources and teacher training workshops – typically around SDSS data – and work to measure their impact. Some of my work in this area is done in collaboration with Dr Paula Miles, from the School of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of St Andrews. You can find a recent conference poster on some of that work here.
Current group members
Catriona (Tina) Smaile (BSc research student 2022-2023). Tina is developing classroom resources for the Scottish secondary Physics curriculum, based on SDSS data.
Shay Bradley (Bsc research student 2022-2023, with Dr Anne-Marie Weijmans). Shay is developing classroom resources for Primary schools that focus on constellations.
Victor Leisnock Santos (Research Assistant, 2022-2023. Based in the School of Psychology and Neuroscience, with Dr Paula Miles). Victor is analysing qualitative and quantitative data that has been gathered to study the impact of our Plates for Education teacher professional development on teachers.
Past group members
Katie Lee (BSc research student, School of Psychology and Neuroscience, with Paula; 2021-2022). Katie is investigating the impact of our Plates for Education teacher professional development on teacher self-efficacy, belonging and identity.
Isobel Salmon Smith (BSc research student 2021-2022). Izzy is consulting with teachers to understand barriers to using SDSS Voyages in Physics classrooms in Scotland.
Tini Gabashvili and Chloe Fielding (Undergraduate summer research students, School of Psychology and Neuroscience, with Paula; 2021). Tini and Chloe worked together to conduct a literature review on the impact of professional learning on STEM teacher’s identify, wellbeing, belonging and self-efficacy.
Charlotte Thackeray (Undergraduate summer research student; 2021). Charlotte developed undergraduate-level Jupyter Python notebooks to facilitate the use of MaNGA data in the classroom.
Matt Steel (BSc research student 2020-2021). Matt developed a set of hands-on classroom activities around stellar evolution, using SDSS data and Voyages, aimed at Advanced Higher Physics in the Scottish Curriculum for Excellence.
Lucy Houston (BSc research student 2019-2020). Lucy developed a set of classroom activities to help explain big data and visualisation concepts using SDSS data, aimed at S3-S4 level Computing in the Scottish Curriculum for Excellence.
Oriel Marshall (MPhys research student 2018-2019). Oriel developed a set of hands-on classroom activities to help demonstrate the difference between cosmological redshift and Doppler shift. After graduating, Oriel
I am currently studying towards a Masters in Inclusive Education with the Open University. My research interests are around critical pedagogy in STEM and HE, critical scientific literacy, and attitudes and conceptualisations of inclusion by staff and students in HE.
A list of essays/blog posts will appear on this website in due course.