I am an astrophysicist, radio astronomer, and algorithm developer, and am currently a Research Associate at the University of Oxford’s e-Research Centre (OeRC). Prior to this, I was an Excellence Fellow at the Institute for Mathematics, Astrophysics, and Particle Physics (IMAPP) at Radboud University in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. I received my PhD from the University of Cambridge in 2012, where I was based at Trinity Hall, the Cavendish Laboratory, and the Kavli Institute for Cosmology. I have since held positions as an Associate Lecturer at the Sydney Institute for Astronomy (SifA), University of Sydney, Australia, and as a scientific visitor at institutes in Italy and Germany.
I started my career as a theoretical physicist at Royal Holloway, University of London. My research dissertation was on Kaluza-Klein cosmologies, and by adding extra dimensions to Einstein’s field equations, I was able to show that the extra dimensions intrinsically collapse and fuel the expansion of the 3 ordinary dimensions. Since then, I have moved into observational astrophysics, and most of my work to-date has been directly focussed on the run-up to the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) – a radio telescope that will essentially cover half the Earth with components located in both the Western Australian desert and in South Africa. The “Big Data” generated by the SKA will be enough to fill 15 million, 64 GB, iPods every day. That is 10 times the current global internet traffic. Our newly developed skills in handling such data will affect everyone from medical researchers, neuroscientists, data scientists, quantitative financial analysts, and the general public throughout the global community.
I have been helping to commission and scientifically exploit the pathfinders and precursors for the SKA, and have been using a number of world-class facilities and international observatories including the VLA in the USA, LOFAR in the Netherlands, ATCA in Australia, and the GMRT in India. Much of my research has focussed on the areas of galaxy evolution and cosmic magnetism, particularly in the early Universe. I am also interested in large-scale survey projects, and am active within both the GALFACTS Consortium undertaking a 1.4 GHz full-polarisation survey with the Arecibo telescope, and the POlarisation Sky Survey of the Universe’s Magnetism (POSSUM) survey being undertaken with the new Phased Array Feeds on the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP).
In particular, I have been applying cutting-edge statistical and data analysis techniques to these large datasets. This has included implementing space-partitioning data structures, model selection, and hypothesis testing tools. I have particular expertise with Python and its scientific libraries such as numpy, scipy. In general, I love solving problems!
When not doing research, I am also a passionate communicator. I enjoy explaining complex topics to non-specialist audiences. Until 2015, I was leading the “CAASTRO in the Classroom” outreach programme within the ARC Centre of Excellence for All-Sky Astrophysics. I have also spent time as the Astronomer in Residence at Ayers Rock/Uluru, Australia to engage with the general public.