About Me

Since October 2018, I am an ESO Fellow at the European Southern Observatory in Garching, Germany. Before this, I spent five years as a postdoc at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore with Roeland van der Marel as a member of the HSTPROMO collaboration and three years as a postdoc at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg, 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 and Gaia 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.

Aside from astronomy, I enjoy dancing, especially Ballroom, Latin, and West Coast Swing.

Travel

16-19 October 2018
Population Dynamics Collaboration Meeting, Riquewihr, France
19-23 November 2018
Survival of Dense Star Clusters in the Milky Way System, MPIA, Heidelberg, Germany (invited speaker)