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Astrophysics Research Centre

School of Mathematics and Physics

Francis Keenan

About me

I was Head of the School of Mathematics and Physics from 2004 to 2015, during which time I tried to fit in research whenever time permitted. My PhD was on the study of OB-type stars at high Galactic latitudes and the intervening interstellar medium, and I still work in this area over 30 years later, in collaboration with Philip Dufton and Jonathan Smoker.

Another of my research fields is solar physics, including the assessment of UV, EUV and X-ray line ratio diagnostics. In collaboration with Mihalis Mathioudakis, I work on high-cadence solar imaging, and we built a state-of-the-art solar imager called ROSA which is now installed on the Dunn Solar Telescope in New Mexico.

For the period 2003-2011 I held a William Penney Research Fellowship from AWE Aldermaston, to work on a number of topics related to plasma physics, including laboratory astrophysics (i.e. laboratory plasmas which mimic those found in astronomy) and atomic physics. Much of this work is in collaboration with Prof Steve Rose at Imperial College, and colleagues at major US laboratories, including the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The picture to the right shows the Z-Machine at Sandia National Laboratory, which is the largest X-Ray generator in the world, and an important testbed for much plasma physics. More recently I have also started to work in this field with my colleagues Dave Riley and Gianluca Sarri in the Centre for Plasma Physics in the School.

Robert Ryans and I have produced a series of presentations for schools and the general public, which use clips from films and tv shows to illustrate how accurate the science is in science-fiction movies and shows such as Star Trek and Star Wars. These have proved to be a lot more popular than any of our research talks!

My Honours include the William Penney Fellowship mentioned above, and I was also an SERC Advanced Fellow from 1986-1989 and a Royal Society Leverhulme Trust Fellow during 1995-1996. In addition, I was a member of the SuperWASP exoplanet discovery team that was awarded the Royal Astronomical Society Group Achievement Award in 2010. I have served on several Research Council committees, including Chair of the PPARC Panel for the Allocation of Telescope Time for the period 1998-2001. Currently, I am an assessor for the Georgian National Science Foundation, and a Collaborating Scientist for the SERTS and EUNIS solar rocket missions. I have obtained significant research grants from a number of sources, including STFC, PPARC, EPSRC, UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA), AWE and the Royal Society. My research has also been supported by studentships from UKAEA and AWE via the Co-operative Award in Science and Technology (CAST) and Co-operative Award in Science and Engineering (CASE) schemes.

Contacting me

  • phone: +44 (0)2890 97 3281
  • office: F050, first floor, Physics Building
users/fkeenan/start.txt · Last modified: 2017/08/30 15:31 by fkeenan

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