I am interested in how galaxies form and evolve. In particular I am interested in the role of galaxy mergers and starbursts in building "red and dead" elliptical galaxies, using absorption line systems to unveil the link between galaxies and their gaseous halos, and the impact of active galactic nuclei (AGN) on galaxy evolution.

My work combines observational data from several international galaxy surveys with large suites of simulations, to study both the spectral and morphological evolution of galaxies following a starburst or merger phase. We aim to understand the physical processes responsible for changing galaxies from the irregular balls of gas observed at high redshift, into the bimodal population of star-forming spirals and quiescent ellipticals seen around us today.

I am additionally interested in, and have undertaken research on, the progression of minoritised groups of students through physics undergraduate courses. See the Publications tab on the left for details of published papers.

I am a member of Astronomers for Planet Earth and am aware of the negative impact that the study of Astronomy has on our own planet's future. You can read my 2022 blog post on this topic here .

Primary Teaching Duties

I co-ordinate and teach the 3rd/4th year Extragalactic Astronomy course which I developed specially for St Andrews undergraduate students in astrophysics. The objectives of this module are to help students: (1) to learn about the observations that enable us to understand galaxy evolution and observational cosmology, (2) to learn to apply a range of physical principles learnt outside this lecture course to the understanding of galaxies, and (3) to be able to apply the material learnt in the lectures to current research activities in extragalactic astrophysics. The course includes "guest seminars" from PhD students and post-docs doing cutting edge research in the field, with constructive feedback provided by the students to guide their learning, and help the guest speakers improve their lecturing style. Assessment includes exploration of the SDSS galaxy survey database using python notebooks and SQL.

I have also taught a 2nd year module on the Milky Way, a 2nd year module on chemical evolution, and tutored for Transferable Skills and Computational Physics.

Primary Administration Duties

  • 2023-- Director of Postgraduate Studies, School of Physics and Astronomy
  • 2012-2019 Director Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in the School of Physics and Astronomy. In 2017 we achieved Juno Champion and Athena Swan Silver status, which was renewed in 2022.
  • 2012-2018 Project leader of the European Research Council Starting Grant SEDmorph : The origins of galaxy bimodality.