Phil Bull

Phil Bull

Lecturer in Cosmology at QMUL

I'm a theoretical cosmologist interested in mapping the large-scale structure of the Universe with radio and optical telescopes

Me, staring off into middle distance. Credit: Kiran Joshi. HERA array, with PAPER (foreground) and MeerKAT (background). Credit: Kathryn Rosie (2018).
MeerKAT dishes seen from above. Credit: SKA Africa (2016). LSST at sunset. Credit: Gianluca Lombardi (2018).

About Me.

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.

ERC logo HERA logo LSST DESC logo SKA logo CRC logo


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!

Research interests

My technical interests are quite broad, and include:

Funded projects

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.

Published and submitted papers are listed below, or you can skip to the list of white papers or conference proceedings .

  1. Measurements of the diffuse Galactic synchrotron spectral index and curvature from MeerKLASS pilot data
    M. O. Irfan, P. Bull, M. G. Santos et al.
  2. Automated Detection of Antenna Malfunctions in Large-N Interferometers: A Case Study with the Hydrogen Epoch of Reionization Array
    D. Storer et al.
    Radio Science; arXiv:2109.12733
  3. HERA Phase I Limits on the Cosmic 21-cm Signal: Constraints on Astrophysics and Cosmology During the Epoch of Reionization
    HERA Collaboration et al.
  4. First Results from HERA Phase I: Upper Limits on the Epoch of Reionization 21 cm Power Spectrum
    HERA Collaboration et al.
    ApJ accepted; arXiv:2108.02263
  5. Spin-based removal of instrumental systematics in 21cm intensity mapping surveys
    N. McCallum, D. B. Thomas, P. Bull, M. L. Brown
  6. Cleaning foregrounds from single-dish 21cm intensity maps with Kernel Principal Component Analysis
    M. O. Irfan, P. Bull
  7. Effects of model incompleteness on the drift-scan calibration of radio telescopes
    B. K. Gehlot, D. C. Jacobs, J. D. Bowman et al.
    MNRAS 506, 3 (2021); arXiv:2104.12240
  8. A Real Time Processing System for Big Data in Astronomy: Applications to HERA
    P. La Plante, P. K. G. Williams, M. Kolopanis et al.
    Astron. Comput. 36 (2021) 100489; arXiv:2104.03990
  9. Validation of the HERA Phase I Epoch of Reionization 21 cm Power Spectrum Software Pipeline
    HERA Collaboration (J. E. Aguirre et al.)
  10. Methods of Error Estimation for Delay Power Spectra in 21cm Cosmology
    J. Tan, A. Liu, N. Kern et al.
  11. Statistical recovery of the BAO scale from multipoles of the beam-convolved 21cm correlation function
    F. Kennedy, P. Bull
    MNRAS published; arXiv:2103.08568
  12. Patterns of primary beam non-redundancy in close-packed 21cm array observations
    S. Choudhuri, P. Bull, H. Garsden
    MNRAS 506, 2 (2021); arXiv:2101.02684
  13. HI intensity mapping with MeerKAT: Calibration pipeline for multi-dish autocorrelation observations
    J. Wang, M.G. Santos, P. Bull et al.
    MNRAS 505, 3 (2021); arXiv:2011.13789
  14. Searching for dark energy in the matter-dominated era
    P. Bull, M. White, A. Slosar
    MNRAS 505, 2 (2021); arXiv:2007.02865
  15. Observing relativistic features in large-scale structure surveys -- II: Doppler magnification in an ensemble of relativistic simulations
    L. Coates, J. Adamek, P. Bull, C. Guandalin, C. Clarkson
    MNRAS 504, 3 (2021); arXiv:2011.12936
  16. Observing relativistic features in large-scale structure surveys -- I: Multipoles of the power spectrum
    C. Guandalin, J. Adamek, P. Bull, C. Clarkson, L.R. Abramo, L. Coates
    MNRAS 501, 2 (2021); arXiv:2009.02284
  17. DAYENU: A Simple Filter of Smooth Foregrounds for Intensity Mapping Power Spectra
    A. Ewall-Wice et al.
    MNRAS 500, 4 (2021); arXiv:2004.11397
  18. Understanding the HERA Phase I receiver system with simulations and its impact on the detectability of the EoR delay power spectrum
    HERA Collaboration (N. Fagnoni et al.)
    MNRAS 500, 1 (2021); arXiv:1908.02383
  19. Imaging and Modeling Data from the Hydrogen Epoch of Reionization Array
    C. Carilli et al.
    ApJS 247, 2 (2020)
  20. Redundant-Baseline Calibration of the Hydrogen Epoch of Reionization Array
    J.S. Dillon et al.
    MNRAS 499, 4 (2020); arXiv:2003.08399
  21. Absolute Calibration for the Hydrogen Epoch of Reionization Array and Its Impact on the 21 cm Power Spectrum
    HERA Collaboration (N.S. Kern et al.)
    ApJ 890, 122 (2020); arXiv:1910.12943
  22. Mitigating Internal Instrument Coupling II: A Method Demonstration with the Hydrogen Epoch of Reionization Array
    HERA Collaboration (N.S. Kern et al.)
    ApJ 888, 70 (2020); arXiv:1909.11733
  23. The HERA-19 Commissioning Array: Direction-dependent Effects
    HERA Collaboration (S. Kohn et al.)
    ApJ 882, 58 (2019); arXiv:1802.04151
  24. Core Cosmology Library: Precision Cosmological Predictions for LSST
    LSST Dark Energy Science Collaboration (incl. P. Bull)
    ApJS 242, 2 (2019); arXiv:1812.05995
  25. Cosmology with Phase 1 of the Square Kilometre Array; Red Book 2018: Technical specifications and performance forecasts
    Square Kilometre Array Cosmology Science Working Group (incl. P. Bull)
    PASA 37, E007; arXiv:1811.02743
  26. Testing General Relativity with the Doppler magnification effect
    S. Andrianomena, C. Bonvin, D. Bacon, P. Bull, C. Clarkson, R. Maartens, T. Moloi
    MNRAS 488, 3759 (2019); arXiv:1810.12793
  27. Fundamental Physics with the Square Kilometre Array
    A. Weltman, P. Bull, S. Camera et al.
    PASA 37, E002 (2020); arXiv:1810.02680
  28. Model-independent curvature determination with 21cm intensity mapping experiments
    A. Witzemann, P. Bull, C. Clarkson, M. G. Santos, M. Spinelli, A. Weltman
    MNRAS 477, 1 (2018); arXiv:1711.02179
  29. Mitigating complex dust foregrounds in future CMB polarization experiments
    B. Hensley, P. Bull
    ApJ 853, 127 (2018); arXiv:1709.07897
  30. Priors on the effective Dark Energy equation of state in scalar-tensor theories
    Marco Raveri, Philip Bull, Alessandra Silvestri, Levon Pogosian
    Phys. Rev. D 96, 083509 (2017); arXiv:1703.05297
  31. A Galaxy-Halo Model for Multiple Cosmological Tracers
    Philip Bull
    MNRAS 471, 12 (2017); arXiv:1610.08948
  32. Dipolar modulation in the size of galaxies: The effect of Doppler magnification
    Camille Bonvin, Sambatra Andrianomena, David Bacon, Chris Clarkson, Roy Maartens, Teboho Moloi, Philip Bull
    MNRAS 472, 4 (2017); arXiv:1610.05946
  33. Spatial curvature endgame: Reaching the limit of curvature determination
    C. Danielle Leonard, Philip Bull, Rupert Allison
    Phys. Rev. D 94, 023502 (2016); arXiv:1604.01410
  34. Reconstructing cosmic growth with kSZ observations in the era of Stage IV experiments
    David Alonso, Thibaut Louis, Philip Bull, Pedro G. Ferreira
    Phys. Rev. D 94, 043522 (2016); arXiv:1604.01382
  35. Distinguishing screening mechanisms with environment-dependent velocity statistics
    Magnus Fagernes Ivarsen, Philip Bull, Claudio Llinares, David Mota
    Astron. Astrophys. 595 (2016) A40; arXiv:1603.03072
  36. Beyond ΛCDM: Problems, solutions, and the road ahead
    Philip Bull, Yashar Akrami (Eds.) et al.
    Phys. Dark. Univ. 12, 56 (2016); arXiv:1512.05356
  37. Extending cosmological tests of General Relativity with the Square Kilometre Array
    Philip Bull
    Astrophys. J 817 (2016) 26; arXiv:1509.07562
  38. Weighing neutrinos with cosmic neutral hydrogen
    Francisco Villaescusa-Navarro, Philip Bull, and Matteo Viel
    Astrophys. J 814 (2015) 146; arXiv:1507.05102
  39. A systematic study of Lyman-Alpha transfer through outflowing shells: Model parameter estimation
    Max Gronke, Philip Bull, and Mark Dijkstra
    Astrophys. J 812 (2015) 123; arXiv:1506.03836
  40. Observational signatures of modified gravity on ultra-large scales
    Tessa Baker and Philip Bull
    Astrophys. J 811 (2015) 2, 116; arXiv:1506.00641
  41. Ultra-large scale cosmology with next-generation experiments
    David Alonso, Philip Bull, Pedro G. Ferreira, Roy Maartens, and Mario G. Santos
    Astrophys. J 814 (2015) 145; arXiv:1505.07596
  42. Cosmological performance of SKA HI galaxy surveys
    Sahba Yahya, Philip Bull, Mario G. Santos, Marta Silva, Roy Maartens, Patrice Okouma, and Bruce Bassett
    MNRAS 450, 2251 (2015); arXiv:1412.4700
  43. Cross-correlating 21cm intensity maps with Lyman Break Galaxies in the post-reionization era
    Francisco Villaescusa-Navarro, Matteo Viel, David Alonso, Kanan K. Datta, Philip Bull, and Mario G. Santos
    JCAP 1503 (2015) 03, 034; arXiv:1410.7393
  44. A CMB Gibbs sampler for localized secondary anisotropies
    Philip Bull, Ingunn K. Wehus, Hans Kristian Eriksen, Pedro G. Ferreira, Unni Fuskeland, Krzysztof M. Gorski, and Jeffrey B. Jewell
    ApJS 219, 10 (2015); arXiv:1410.2544
  45. Blind foreground subtraction for intensity mapping experiments
    David Alonso, Philip Bull, Pedro G. Ferreira, and Mario G. Santos.
    MNRAS 447, 400 (2015); arXiv:1409.8667
  46. Quintessence in a quandary: On prior dependence in dark energy models
    David J. E. Marsh, Philip Bull, Pedro G. Ferreira, and Andrew Pontzen
    Phys. Rev. D 90 (2014) 10, 105023; arXiv:1406.2301
  47. Late-time cosmology with 21cm intensity mapping experiments
    Philip Bull, Pedro G. Ferreira, Prina Patel, and Mario Santos
    Astrophys. J. 803 (2015) 1, 21; arXiv:1405.1452
  48. A multi-level solver for Gaussian constrained CMB realizations
    D. S. Seljebotn, K. A. Mardal, J. B. Jewell, H. K. Eriksen, and P. Bull
    ApJS 210, 24 (2014); arXiv:1308.5299
  49. What if Planck's Universe isn't flat?
    Philip Bull and Marc Kamionkowski
    Phys. Rev. D 87, 081301(R) (2013); arXiv:1302.1617
  50. Local and non-local measures of acceleration in cosmology
    Philip Bull and Timothy Clifton
    Phys. Rev. D 85, 103512 (2012); arXiv:1203.4479
  51. The isotropic blackbody CMB as evidence for a homogeneous universe
    Timothy Clifton, Chris Clarkson and Philip Bull
    Phys. Rev. Lett. 109, 051303 (2012); arXiv:1111.3794
  52. The kSZ effect as a test of general radial inhomogeneity in LTB cosmology
    Philip Bull, Timothy Clifton and Pedro G. Ferreira
    Phys. Rev. D 85, 024002 (2012); arXiv:1108.2222

This is a list of (unpublished) white papers and technical reports that I have contributed to.

  1. Modified Gravity and Dark Energy models Beyond w(z)CDM Testable by LSST
    LSST Dark Energy Science Collaboration (M. Ishak, T. Baker, P. Bull et al.)
  2. Inflation and Early Dark Energy with a Stage II Hydrogen Intensity Mapping experiment
    Cosmic Visions 21 cm Collaboration (incl. P. Bull)
  3. Line-Intensity Mapping: 2017 Status Report
    E. Kovetz et al.
  4. MeerKLASS: MeerKAT Large Area Synoptic Survey
    Mario G. Santos (Ed.) et al.
  5. Science Impacts of the SPHEREx All-Sky Optical to Near-Infrared Spectral Survey
    Olivier Doré, Michael W. Werner (Eds.) et al.

Conference Proceedings

This is a list of my conference proceedings.

  1. Weak gravitational lensing with CO galaxies
    P. Bull, I. Harrison, E. Huff
    ASP Conf. Ser. 517 (2018) 803; arXiv:1806.08339
  2. Cosmology from HI galaxy surveys with the SKA
    F. B. Abdalla, P. Bull, S. Camera, A. Benoit-Levy et al.
    PoS AASKA14 (2015) 017; arXiv:1501.04035
  3. Cosmology from a SKA HI intensity mapping survey
    M. Santos, P. Bull, D. Alonso et al.
    PoS AASKA14 (2015) 019; arXiv:1501.03989
  4. Cross correlation surveys with the Square Kilometre Array
    D. Kirk, F. B. Abdalla, A. Benoit-Levy, P. Bull, B. Joachimi
    PoS AASKA14 (2015) 020; arXiv:1501.03848
  5. HI galaxy simulations for the SKA: number counts and bias
    M. Santos, D. Alonso, P. Bull, M. Silva, S. Yahya
    PoS AASKA14 (2015) 021; arXiv:1501.03990
  6. Measuring baryon acoustic oscillations with future SKA surveys
    P. Bull, S. Camera, A. Raccanelli et al.
    PoS AASKA14 (2015) 024; arXiv:1501.04088
  7. Cosmology on the Largest Scales with the SKA
    S. Camera, A. Raccanelli, P. Bull, D. Bertacca et al.
    PoS AASKA14 (2015) 025; arXiv:1501.03851
  8. Measuring redshift-space distortion with future SKA surveys
    A. Raccanelli, P. Bull, S. Camera, C. Blake et al.
    PoS AASKA14 (2015) 031; arXiv:1501.03821
  9. Foreground Subtraction in Intensity Mapping with the SKA
    L. Wolz, F. B. Abdalla, D. Alonso, C. Blake, P. Bull et al.
    PoS AASKA14 (2015) 035; arXiv:1501.03823
  10. Synergy between the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope and the Square Kilometre Array
    D. Bacon, S. Bridle, F. B. Abdalla, M. Brown, P. Bull et al.
    PoS AASKA14 (2015) 145; arXiv:1501.03977
  11. Euclid & SKA Synergies
    T. Kitching, D. Bacon, M. Brown, P. Bull et al.
    PoS AASKA14 (2015) 146; arXiv:1501.03978
  12. 21cm Cosmology
    M. G. Santos, D. Alonso, P. Bull et al.
    Proc. IAU 306, CUP (2015)


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:

Research Group.

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 students Fraser Kennedy and Katrine Glasscock, 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.

Phil, Samir, and Fraser in front of one of the HERA test dishes at Lord's Bridge, near Cambridge.

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 Cosmology with SKA and Pathfinders from the 2016 INAF Scuola Lucchin summer school [20MB].

Slides on Gibbs sampling and Gaussian constrained realisations [7MB].

PhD students

(Includes students jointly supervised with others.)

Masters students

(Includes students jointly supervised with others.)

Summer research students


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 am not a cosmetologist.

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.

We also initiated a rather successful annual space science festival called Stargazing Oxford, to tie in with the BBC's Stargazing Live programmes.

I've also been interviewed a few times here and there, and occasionally comment on science news stories in the press.

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.


Please feel free to contact me about any aspect of my research, computer code, or otherwise. I prefer email wherever possible.

I'm also on Twitter, and some other things like that.

Powered by w3.css