I am an STFC Ernest Rutherford Fellow and ERC Starting Grant awardee in the Astrophysics Research Centre at Queen’s University Belfast. My research interests include explosive transients, cosmology, and supernova progenitors. I am interested in observational studies of stellar explosions, from exploring the diversity of supernova populations to studies constraining the progenitor characteristics of normal supernovae. Understanding the physics and explosion mechanisms of supernovae is vital for their continuing use as probes of cosmology. Recently, my research has also focussed on the exciting new area of gravitational-wave astrophysics, and the rapid discovery and follow-up of the electromagnetic counterparts, called 'kilonovae' of gravitational wave triggers.
Sept. 2017: Awarded European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant (€1.9M)
Oct. 2015 - present: STFC Ernest Rutherford Fellow, Queen’s University Belfast, UK
Oct. 2013 - Sept. 2015: Marie-Curie fellow, European Southern Observatory, Germany
Oct. 2010 - Sept. 2013: Post-doctoral researcher, University of Oxford, UK
Oct. 2007 - Sept. 2010: PhD in Astrophysics, Queen's University Belfast, UK
My research covers a broad range of topics in supernova and explosive transient research. In particular, my research focuses on the following topics:
I am involved in a number of surveys including (e)PESSTO, ATLAS, 4MOST, Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST), and the Euclid space mission. I was also heavily involved in the Palomar Transient Factory (PTF), leading its first major data release of Type Ia supernova spectra (Maguire et al. 2014). PESSTO is an European Southern Observatory Public Spectroscopic Survey operating at La Silla until 2019. I am chair of the (e)PESSTO Target and Alert Team, which is responsible for selection and prioritisation of targets and follow-up strategies. I am also P.I. of the PESSTO science group, 'Thermonuclear supernovae in remote locations', which is investigating SNe in locations far from their host galaxies and in faint dwarf galaxies. This new supernova sample will cover a range of galaxy environments to constrain supernova diversity over the history of the Universe.
Current and future wide-field transient surveys, such as ATLAS, are revolutionising our understanding of the transient sky by discovering huge numbers of interesting new events every night. Our aim to find them as soon as possible after the explosion so we can understand their properties to the highest precision possible. LSST will come online in the early 2020s and will an order of magnitude more transients than previously possible. I am actively involved in the supernova working group of the LSST Dark Energy Science Collaboration, as well as a board member of LSST:UK.
The bottleneck for science returns from LSST will be spectroscopic classification and follow-up, which is why we have formed the Time-Domain Extragalactic Survey (TiDES) within the 4MOST consortium. I am chair of the 4MOST Science Consortium Science Policy Board, which oversees membership and publication policies for ~300 person survey. The aim of TIDES is to use the multiplex capabilities of 4MOST to trigger rapid follow-up of interesting transient events, combined with static host galaxy studies for cosmology. Euclid, an upcoming ESA space mission operating at near-infrared wavelengths will also allow us to constrain more precisely the properties of dark energy using high-redshift Type Ia supernovae.
The electromagnetic counterparts to gravitational waves will be a key target of many of these surveys. I am also involved in the large European collaboration, ENGRAVE, which aims to use European telescope facilities to follow-up gravitational wave events from ultra-violet to infrared wavelengths.
My ADS publication list can be found here.
In 2017/2018, I am teaching PHY4006 'High-Energy Astrophysics'. See course pages on Queen's Online.