Astro History

Me, in the Philip Wetton Telescope dome, on the roof of the department.

My Path...

I have been a Professor of Astrophysics (previous University Lecturer) within the (sub-)Department of Astrophysics at the University of Oxford, England, since 2005. I am also Lindemann Fellow and Tutor in Physics at Wadham College, where I additionally act as Dean.

My responsibilities within the Department are varied. I lectured the third year Stellar Structure and Evolution course for some years, headed the first year Optics laboratory for many years, and until recently was a (chairman of) Finals Examiners, in charge of all Physics examinations. I also lecture on the graduate course and supervise research projects for last year undergraduate (BA and MPhys) students, as well as for graduate (DPhil) and visiting students. I am also part of the unofficial "galaxies" group and am an active participant in the associated Galaxy Evolution Seminars, an informal series of interactive seminars for Oxford people interested in galaxy research. Finally, I lead the "galaxy evolution" strand of the Oxford Centre for Astrophysical Surveys, funded by the Hintze Family Charitable Foundation.

At Wadham College, beside taking an active role in running the college itself, my main responsibility is to tutor physics to undergraduate students. At the moment, I tutor all the first year physics ((Classical) Mechanics, Special Relativity, Circuit Theory, Optics, and Electromagnetism), and occasionally the second year Statistical Mechanics course. For many years, I tutored the third year courses Stellar Structure and Evolution and Cosmology. I am also currently Dean, in charge of all student disciplinary and legal matters, and take an active part in alumni relations.

Although I still have a strong interest in my old love, the structure, dynamics, and stellar populations of late-type galaxies (spirals and dwarfs), especially the influence of bars and secular evolution, my research now mostly focuses on early-type galaxies (lenticulars and ellipticals). I participate in various research projects and am a member of a few collaborations, notably the Atlas3D (ramping up) and SAURON (ramping down) projects. Over the last few years, I have transformed myself in a millimetre/sub-millimetre astronomer, taking a particular interest in the molecular gas content of early-type galaxies, its origin, dynamics, physical state, and relation to star formation, all of this in preparation for the Atacama Large mm/sub-mm Array (ALMA).

I am currently supervising Oxford DPhil student Selcuk Topal, as well as closely advising Katey Alatalo at UC Berkeley. I also recently supervised Timothy Davis (now at ESO), Michael Williams (now at MPE) and Alison Crocker (now at UMass), who have now graduated from Oxford, as well as recently advised Hyunjin Jeong at Yonsei University (now at KASI). In the past, I also advised Giuseppe Aronica at Ruhr-Universitaet Bochum. As far as postdoctoral fellows are concerned, I am now directly supervising Estelle Bayet.

Before joining Oxford, I was a Hubble Fellow at the Columbia Astrophysics Laboratory, an umbrella organization regrouping astronomers from the Department of Physics and the Department of Astronomy of Columbia University in New York City. I was there for 3 years (2001-2004), plenty of time to develop local collaborations, in particular with Jacqueline van Gorkom. Continuing my galaxy work, I took a particular interest in neutral hydrogen and ultraviolet (with GALEX) observations. While there, I also supervised projects by local PhD students Aeree Chung (now professor at Yonsei University) and Michel Zamojski (now at IPAC), and co-supervised MSc student Sabrina Pakzad (now at NOAO) from the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal.

Before Columbia, I was a postdoctoral fellow at the Sterrewacht Leiden of Universitat Leiden, in the Netherlands. I was there for 3 years (1998-2001), continuing and expanding my research work on the structure and dynamics of galaxies within the Galaxy Dynamics group led by Tim de Zeeuw (now director general of ESO) and as a member of the SAURON project. While there, I supervised projects by local Master students Thijs Kouwenhoven (now at Peking University) and Merijn Smit.

Yet before that, I was at Mount Stromlo and Siding Spring Observatories (now called the Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics), part of The Australian National University, in Canberra, Australia. I spent 4 years there (1994-1998), completing my PhD in astronomy and astrophysics under the supervision of Ken Freeman and Lia Athanassoula (Observatoire de Marseille). I focused on bar-driven secular evolution in disk galaxies (spirals), particularly the relationship of galaxy bulges and bars.

Up to 1994, I lived in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, where I did my undergraduate studies at the Physics Department (including the Astrophysics Group) of the Université de Montréal. In particular, I worked on the dark matter content of dwarf galaxies with Claude Carignan (now at the University of Cape Town) while there.

Before that, well, that would be an even longer story ...

To go back to my Home Page, click here: Home

Last modified: Wed Oct 5 10:59:41 BST 2016