I'm a theoretical cosmologist interested in mapping the large-scale structure of the Universe with radio and optical telescopes
I'm a lecturer in cosmology at Queen Mary University of London. Before that, I was a postdoc in the Radio Astronomy Lab and BCCP at UC Berkeley from 2017 - 2018, a NASA Postdoctoral Program fellow at JPL/Caltech from 2015 - 2017, and a postdoc in theoretical astrophysics at the University of Oslo from 2013 - 2015. I did my DPhil (PhD) in Astrophysics at the University of Oxford from 2010 - 2013, and my undergraduate degree in Physics with Astrophysics at the University of Manchester from 2006 - 2010. I'm originally from Stoke-on-Trent in the UK.
I'm also a Visiting Senior Researcher at the Centre for Radio Cosmology at the University of the Western Cape, a member of the SKA Cosmology Science Working Group (Core Team) and the HERA collaboration (Executive Board and lead of the Stats working group), a Full Member of the LSST Dark Energy Science Collaboration (where I was formerly co-convener of the Theory and Joint Probes working group), a member of the MeerKLASS radio cosmology collaboration, and was previously a member of the Planck Collaboration as part of the LFI Core Team while in Oslo. I am also a member of the Institute of Applied Data Science at Queen Mary.
Aside from my research interests in theoretical cosmology, I've also been involved in the open source movement. I began contributing to Ubuntu around 2005, before moving on to work on documentation for the GNOME project. My roles have included coordinating the writing of user and developer documentation, training new contributors, and supervising students for the project's Women's Outreach Program. I've also co-authored a couple of books on Ubuntu, published by No Starch Press in 2010 and 2012.
My area of expertise is in theoretical cosmology and general relativity. I'm fascinated by the lumpy, inhomogeneous nature of the Universe that we live in, and how structures evolve and interact on large scales. One of the biggest puzzles in this area is the (relatively) recent finding that the expansion of the Universe appears to be accelerating. This is a very curious result, and I'd like to get to the bottom of it!
My technical interests are quite broad, and include:
Cosmology with intensity maps of the redshifted hydrogen 21cm line
General relativistic effects in large-scale structure observations and light propagation
Using secondary anisotropies and spectral distortions of the CMB as cosmological probes
Long-range peculiar velocity surveys and tests of gravity using the kinematic Sunyaev-Zel'dovich effect
Observational tests of the Cosmological Principle, and the averaging and backreaction problems
Bayesian statistics, stochastic processes, and computational physics
Below is a list of research projects that I've received funding for:
MapItAll — Illuminating the darkness with precision maps of neutral hydrogen across cosmic time (ERC Starting Grant, €1.67m, 2021-2025)
Astronomy Research at QM — Pushing 21cm to the (statistical) limit: A first EoR detection with an SKA Precursor (STFC Consolidated Grant, AGP/Astro Observations, £212k, 2020-2023)
Astronomy Research at QM — Relativistic effects in large-scale structure (STFC Consolidated Grant, AGP/Astro Theory, as co-I, £280k, 2021-2025)
HERA research — With UC Berkeley (subcontract, $278k, 2019-2022)
UNITY — Multi-wavelength simulations of relativistic cosmology (DiRAC 10th Call HPC allocation, 0.3M CPU-hours, 2018-2019)
NIAC/JPL — Direct Probe of Dark Energy Interactions with a Solar System Laboratory (NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts, Phase I Step B study, as Co-I, up to $125k, 2016)
This is a list of my scientific publications to date. You can also find listings on SPIRES, Google Scholar, and arXiv. My ORCID is 0000-0001-5668-3101. Some of the computer code used in these papers is available online.
This is a list of (unpublished) white papers and technical reports that I have contributed to.
This is a list of my conference proceedings.
I try to make all of my scientific code, or at least a substantial fraction of it, publicly available. This enables other people to reproduce and check my work if they want to. It also allows them to build off my code and do cool new things, rather than having to spend months solving problems that I may have already solved. That's the theory, anyway. Much of the code is written in Python, C++, and/or Fortran 90, and housed on GitHub or Gitlab.
Here are some of my publicly-available scientific codes:
My research group currently consists of myself, Dr Samir Choudhuri, Dr Hugh Garsden, Dr Mel Irfan (at UWC), Dr Piyanat (Boom) Kittiwisit (at UWC), Dr Mike Wilensky, and PhD student Fraser Kennedy, plus current Masters student Kabelo Malapane (at UWC). I also co-supervise PhD student Carol Guandalin (at USP). Our main focus is on calibration and power spectrum analysis of the HERA and MeerKAT experiments, but we also work on other topics in 21cm cosmology, cosmological galaxy surveys, and statistical data analysis.
I'm planning to recruit a PhD student to start in the 2022/23 academic year using ERC Starting Grant funding. The project I'm mostly looking to find someone for is called Unveiling the Cosmic Dawn and the Epoch of Reionisation with HERA. If you're interested, please apply through the normal QMUL Astronomy Unit route (see here for instructions; deadline around 20th January 2022). And don't hesitate to get in touch with me if you have questions or want to discuss what's involved.
I'm currently teaching SPA6311 Physical Cosmology (3rd year), and previously taught SPA5201 Physics Laboratory (2nd year). I also supervise projects for SPA6776 (Extended Independent Project) and SPA6913 (Physics Review Project), both in the 3rd year.
I'm also directing a new BSc and MSci programme in Physics with Data Science at QMUL, launching in 2021.
Slides on Gibbs sampling and Gaussian constrained realisations [7MB].
(Includes students jointly supervised with others.)
Fraser Kennedy (PhD, QMUL, 2019-)
Caroline Guandalin (PhD, U. São Paulo, 2018-)
Mikael Bull Steen (PhD, Oslo, 2014-2016)
(Includes students jointly supervised with others.)
Dimos Zografos (MSc, QMUL, 2020-2021)
Kabelo Malapane (Masters, U. Western Cape, 2020-)
Ankur Dev (Masters, QMUL, 2019-2020)
Tim Oates (MSc, QMUL, 2019-2020)
Alex Reedy (MSc, QMUL, 2019-2020)
Matt Warner (Masters, QMUL, 2019-2020)
Bradley Cooper-Barnard (MSc, QMUL, 2019)
Thomas Murray (MSc, QMUL, 2019)
Lisa McBride (Masters, SFSU, 2018)
Magnus Fagernes Ivarsen (Masters, Oslo, 2015-16)
Robert Olav Fauli (Masters, Oslo, 2014-15)
Thomas Boyer (Masters, ENSTA Paris, 2021)
Romain Pioch (Masters, ENSTA Paris, 2020)
Kai-Hei Chan (undergrad, Hong Kong University, 2019)
Peter Pan (undergrad, QMUL, 2019)
Matthieu Vilatte (Masters, ENSTA Paris, 2019)
Richelle Xavier (undergrad, Warwick, 2019)
Shaunak Modak (undergrad, UC Berkeley, 2018)
Duncan Rocha (undergrad, Harvey Mudd College, 2018)
Louis Penafiel (undergrad, UC Riverside, 2017)
Elizabeth Kimura (undergrad, Santa Monica College, 2017)
Amanda Brown (undergrad, Princeton, 2016)
I've been involved in public outreach since the very start of my scientific career. Science is an extremely important part of the shared culture of humanity, and I believe that professional scientists have a duty to put their work into the public commons in an effective way, so that everyone can share in our discoveries.
I was the graduate public outreach coordinator at Oxford Astrophysics while I was a DPhil student there. We used to run open evenings for schools and the general public, using the Philip Wetton telescope on the roof of the Denys Wilkinson Building, and various cool Zooniverse projects.
The pinnacle of my media career, however, was when I appeared (for approximately one second) in the 2013 feature documentary Hawking. You can find me at around 40 minutes in, eating soup and waving my hands.
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