Since September 2013, I've been working as a postdoc at the Space Telescope Science Institute with Roeland van der Marel as a member of the HSTPROMO collaboration. Before this, I spent three years as a postdoc at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, working in the Dynamics group with Glenn van de Ven. I completed my PhD at the Institute of Astronomy in Cambridge, under the supervision of Wyn Evans and Vasily Belokurov.
My research primarily uses kinematic data and dynamical models in order to investigate the properties, structure and formation history of galaxies and stellar clusters. The motions of stars in a stellar system are sensitive to the mass of the system and this gives us a way of detecting "hidden" mass that we cannot see with telescopes; by modelling the kinematics, we can determine how much mass is present and where that mass is located. I primarily use proper motion kinematics for my work and I am an expert an the analysis of large proper motion datasets.
Globular clusters present an interesting dynamical puzzle as they are collisional systems; despite the name, the stars don't actually collide, but they do interact (and share energy), which affects their motions. Disentangling the various effects can be challenging and requires very accurate kinematic measurements. Fortunately the exquisite astrometric precision of the Hubble Space Telescope makes it possible to make such measurements.
Galaxies form via mergers and accretions, the signatures of which remain coherent in velocity data for far longer than they do in spatial data, which makes kinematic data a very important tool for determining the present structure of galaxies and unravelling their formation histories. I have a particular interest in the denizens of the Local Group.
When I'm not being an astronomer, I enjoy dancing, especially ballroom, latin, salsa and west coast swing.