News

Dec 7-11: Five years after HL Tau conference

I attended this conference which had been due to be held in Chile but which was moved online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There was a combination of synchronous material running 3pm to 7pm GMT each day and additional asynchronous content on YouTube. It was brilliantly interactive and really enjoyable.

Dec 3: Equality, diversity and inclusion and Exeter Science Centre

I met with the directors of Exeter Science Centre to discuss equality, diversity and inclusion. In particular, we focussed on the concepts of diversity of thought - whereby diverse teams benefit from a variety of lived experiences which help shape their ideas and approaches to problem solving - and the benefits of data monitoring.

Nov 23: Paper accepted for publication

A paper I co-authored entitled "ARMADA I: triple companions detected in B-type binaries α Del and ν Gem" has been accepted for publication in the Astronomical Journal. A pre-print copy of the paper can be accessed here.

late-Nov: Funding for public engagement

I secured £3,150 from the Institute of Physics South West branch and Resolute Photonics to support Community Engagement Opportunities surrounding the Great Conjunction celestial event. This money will be used to develop an existing immersive theatre show called "Space Cats" (run by Boo to a Goose) with themes around Jupiter and Saturn and a shop front installation featuring digital and print media into the heart of the city centre.

Nov 18: GW4 Diversity in Physics conference

I attended this one-day event which provided talks and discussions on various aspects of equity, diversity, and inclusion in Physics. I helped promote the evenet and was asked to help write reports on the event for the University of Exeter Physics Inclusion Group blog and the GW4 news webpages.

Nov 17: PRISM Speakers event for LGBTQ+ STEM Day

I organised and hosted the latest event in the PRISM Speakers series. I had invited Professor Rob Applby to speak about his Tactile Collider project and Dr Natasha Stephen to talk about her experiences as a Bisexual Planetary Scientist and her work with The Inclusion Group for Equity in Research in STEM. The event was held via Zoom due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Recordings of the talks are available to watch here, where you will also find an attendee insights report.

Nov 14: Paper accepted for publication

A paper I co-authored entitled "Viscous heating and boundary layer accretion in the disk of outbursting star FU Orionis" has been accepted for publication in the Astronomy and Astrophysics. A pre-print copy of the paper can be accessed here.

Nov 13: Incorporation of GPI into postTorus

I adapted the postTorus routines of RAPIDO to semi-automate the comparison of scattered light imaging data to TORUS model images. This builds on existing routines which already compare near-infrared interferometric data to visibilities and closure phases extracted from TORUS model images and spectro-photometric datasets to TORUS model SEDs.

mid-Nov: Reviewer for AAS Journals

I was invited to review a manuscript submitted to AAS Journals.

Nov 7-9: MIRC-X observing

After fires close to Mount Wilson Observatory had stopped operations for 6 weeks, it was hoped we could get back to our young stellar object survey observations on these three nights. However, the weather had other ideas with rain and snow keeping the telescope domes shut for the entire period.

Oct 30: Meeting for the proposed GW4 Diversity in Physics conference

I joined a meeting with representatives from Inclusion Groups at universities within the GW4 alliance (Bath, Bristol, Cardiff, Exeter) to discuss arrangements for a proposed GW4 Diversity in Physics conference to mark LGBTQ+ STEM Day 2020. As I was already well underway with preparations for our PRISM Exeter event, I offered to promote both events together in any material that had not already been distributed to supporters and local businesses.

Oct 28: Joined LGBTQ+ STEM Steering Group

I was invited to join the LGBTQ+ STEM steering group. This team of LGBTQ+ scientists, techies, engineers, and mathematicians is responsible for coordinating the STEMinar each year, a one-day event which brings the STEM sector together to celebrate the contributions of LGBTQ+ indivduals to the field. Our first meeting served as an introduction to one another and a discussion on how to continue to make the event series more intersectionaly inclusive. The new steering group announcement was made on the LGBTQ+ STEM blog later in the year and can be read here.

Oct 19: Untold Stories of STEM interview

Back in August, I was interviewed by the University of Exeter's College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences's Digital Learning Team about my pathway into STEM and my experiences as an LGBTQ+ woman in STEM. The interview is now available to listen to on SoundCloud.

Oct 9: DIAS Astronomy Seminar

I was invited to speak about my research on young stars and their disks at DIAS, Dublin, Ireland. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, this had to take place virtually via Zoom.

Oct 2: Women in Climate panel discussion on Allyship

I took part in a virtual panel discussion event on how to be a good ally. A write-up of the event can be found on the Women in Climate blog.

Sep 22: PRISM Bi-week quiz

I organised a pub-style quiz for PRISM Exeter to mark Bi Week, a recognised day to raise awareness of all Bi identities and sexualities. This was PRISM's first event with a primarily social focus and was well received by all who joined.

Sep 22: Teatime Science Talk

I presented my work on SEDBYS - a python-based SED builder for young stars - at the University of Exeter's Astrophysics Group's Teatime science seminar series.

Sep 14: TECgirls interview

I was interviewed for the TECgirls blog which aims to encourage girls to persue STEM subjects. The interview will be available soon.

Sep 9: Tech Exeter Conference

I presented a talk entitled "Looking where we cannot see: using infrared light to reveal the secrets of planet formation" at the Tech Exeter conference. The talk focussed on the tech developments that enable astronomers to study stars and their planets at high angular resolution. The talk was recorded and will be available to view on YouTube shortly.

Aug 26: SciCurious interview

I was interviewed for the SciCurious podcast which aims to raise the profile and celebrate the work being done by LGBTQ+ STEMM researchers (STEMM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine). The interview will be available to download and listen to soon.

Aug 25: Untold Stories of STEM interview

I was interviewed for the new Stories Behind Science podcast series which aims to showcase the diverse backgrounds and experiences of scientific researchers at the University of Exeter. This is available to listen to on SoundCloud.

Aug 21: Videos published from PRISM Speakers July 2020

I edited and published videos of the two talks at PRISM Speakers July 2020 on PRISM Exeter's new YouTube channel.

Aug 19: Preprint of SEDBYS paper now on arXiv

I have submitted the paper which accompanies the SEDBYS code release (see July 30 below) to Publications of the Astronomical Society of Australia (PASA) and uploaded this submitted version of the manuscript to arXiv. It can be accessed for free here.

Aug 17: Abstract submission for #RASposter2020

With the National Astronomy Meeting cancelled due to the covid-19 pandemic, the Royal Astronomical Society (RAS) organised a virtual symposium to showcase the work of early career researchers. I submitted abstracts to showcase two posters - one on my research with the new MIRC-X instrument and the other on my outreach work with Exeter's Community Builders.

Aug 11: Perseids Stargazing Party, Ludwell Valley Park

I organised a stargazing event to coincide with the annual Perseid meteor shower in Ludwell Valley Park, part of St Loyes ward in Exeter. Due to covid-19 restrictions on social distancing, the event was held virtually over Zoom. Guests were encouraged to join me from their gardens and other green spaces around the area. In total, there were 45 individual Zoom connections. Our attempts to spot meteors were thwarted by cloud and a laser show demonstration at nearby Sandy Park in protest of the treatment of the hospitality sector during the pandemic.

Aug 3: Report from PRISM Speakers July 2020

Following the latest PRISM Speakers event, held on July 8th, I prepared a report which summarises attendee demographics and their answers to the feedback we requested on the event. The report can be found here.

July 30: Publication of code on GitLab

I have written a series of tools which dramatically speed up the process of building spectral energy distributions of young stars. The tool, called SEDBYS (SED Builder for Young Stars) is publically available as a research or educational tool and can be downloaded from gitLab.

Jul 24: Paper accepted for publication

A paper I co-authored entitled "MIRC-X: a highly-sensitive six telescope interferometric imager at the CHARA Array" has been accepted for publication in the Astronomical Journal. A pre-print copy of the paper can be accessed here.

Jul 20: preparation and testing for Perseids in the Park

In conjunction with local social enterpriser, Clare Bryden, I am working to organise a virtual meeting for people in the Broadfields area of Exeter for the Perseid meteor shower. Clare and I scouted out ideal locations for us to host the event while maintaining social distancing, as per government guidance. The event itself will be taking place one evening during the week beginning Aug 10th.

Jul 13: Joint BBSTEM and Pride in STEM event

I attended an online networking event held jointly by Black British Professionals in STEM and Pride in STEM. The event focussed on the intersections of race, gender and sexuality when working to improve diversity and inclusion in STEM. In particular, the two speakers talked about their experiences as Black LGBTQ+ STEM professionals and the challenges that they have faced.

Jul 8: PRISM Exeter's Speakers event

With the cancellation of Exeter Pride, this was only our second event of 2020. We had talks from local DevOps engineer, Cariad Eccleston, and Astrophysics PhD student, Aaron Labdon, talk about their work and experiences as LGBTQ+ STEMM professionals. The event was held via Zoom and both talks were recorded and will soon be made available to watch via YouTube.

Jul 2: IOP SW meeting

Although the COVID-19 pandemic meant we could not meet in person, or hold any events at present, the Institute of Physics South West branch committee met on Zoom to discuss how we could use IoP funds to help out under-privileged schools within the South West region and equip them with tools to help with physics education.

Jun 29-Jul 1: SPiRou workshop

Although the COVID-19 pandemic meant we could not meet in person, the SPiRou consortium held a 3-day meeting to discuss instrument developments and achievements as well as science updates.

Jun 27: Pride in Education webinar

As part of Pride Month, UK charity Schools Out held a webinar on LGBTQ+ inclusion in education. I attended the final session of the day which focussed on the higher education sector.

Jun 20-22: Remote CHARA/MIRC-X observations

Telescope observations using the MIRC-X instrument at the CHARA Array, Mount Wilson, California. Fantastic work has been done in the past couple of years by researchers at the University of Exeter, University of Michigan, and Georgia State University to facilitate remote observations. Previously, these were only intended for use for short observing runs but, during the current pandemic, they have ensured important science can still be undertaken remotely by all observers. We enjoyed seeing of 33cm on one night, obtaining the first 5T fringes on a young stellar object with H~8th mag.

Jun 17 2020: Paper accepted for publication

A paper I co-authored entitled "Spin-orbit alignment of the Beta Pic planetary system" has been accepted for publication in the Astrophysical Journal Letters. A pre-print copy of the paper can be accessed here.

Jun 8 2020: Interview with 1 Million Women in STEM

I did an interview with 1 Million Women in STEM, a global campaign to raise the profile of women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) and to provide female role models in STEM fields to future generations. A write-up of the interview can be found here.

Jun 5 2020: Interview with LGBTQ+ STEM

I did an interview with LGBTQ+ STEM on my experiences as an LGBTQ+ scientist. A write-up of the interview can be found here.

Jun 2 2020: Paper accepted for publication

A paper I co-authored entitled "Optical Interferometry and Gaia measurement uncertainties to reveal the physics of Asymptotic Giant Branch stars", led by Andrea Chiavassa, was accepted for publication in Astronomy And Astrophysics.

May 22 2020: CHARA TAC

I was invited to review telescope proposals requesting the use of the CHARA Array during the 2020B semester.

May 14 2020: Paper accepted for publication

My lead-author paper "The inner disk of RY Tau: evidence of stellar occultation by the disk atmosphere at the sublimation rim from K-band continuum interferometry" has been accepted for publciation in The Astrophysical Journal. A link to a pre-print version of the article is available on my publications page.

Mar 17 2020: Move to remote working

To reduce the spread of COVID-19, I began working from home. As an astronomer, my research work is relatively unaffected. I am able to conduct most of my short-term research just using my laptop and have data from previous observing rounds to continue working on while observing facilities around the world shut down due to staffing issues and government imposed travel restrictions.

Mar 11 2020: Careers Fair

I ran a stall showcasing PRISM Exeter at the Exeter College STEM careers fair.

Mar 2-4 2020: PhD student interviews

I conducted PhD student interviews alongside Stefan Kraus via Skype.

Feb 28 2020: Spectrum event

As PRISM Exeter, I attended the Civil Service Local South West event for LGBT History Month at the Met Office, Exeter. I ran a stall showcasing PRISM, attended talks by the likes of LGBT History Month founder, Sue Sanders, and participated in a panel Q A session on LGBTQ+ networks.

Feb 26 2020: Queer STEMM Champions

Through PRISM Exeter, I ran a competition open to students from across Exeter to nominate LGBTQ+ individuals from STEMM who they wished to champion at an event to commemorate LGBT History Month. The three winners gave their talks to an interested and engaged audience.

Feb 11 2020: Application for travel funds

I submitted an application for travel funds from the Royal Astronomical Society to enable me to attend the Cool Stars 21 conference in Toulouse, France, due to be held in June 2020, and the SPIRou science meeting, due to be held in early July 2020.

Jan 11 2020: Talk in Bournemouth

I presented a talk on star and planetary system formation at the Bournemouth Natural History Museum. The talk was well-received, with nearly 100 people in attendance.

Jan 9-10 2020: LGBT STEMinar 2020

I attended the LGBT STEMinar 2020 at the University of Birmingham, presenting a talk on my own research and running a workshop alongside Avery Cunningham of oSTEM on Establishing and Running LGBTQ+ networks within STEMM.

Dec 14-15 2019: Remote VLTI/PIONIER observations

Telescope observations using the PIONIER instrument at the VLTI, Paranal, Chile. These observations were part of our large programme to survey young stellar objects.

Dec 5 2019: RASreach confernece

I spoke at the RASreach conference on communicating astronomy to the public. My talk focussed on the community-based star-gazing events I have organised alongside Exeter's Community Builders and the involvement of the Institute of Physics at Exeter Pride since 2018.

Nov 27-29 2019: Collaborative visit to Grenoble

I was invited to speak at a joint IPAG/IRAM seminar at the University of Grenoble in France. While there, I enjoyed lots of fruitful discussions with researchers there.

Nov 26 2019: Meeting with Exeter College Head of Science and Maths

I met with Pino Butler, the head of Science and Maths at Exeter College to discuss PRISM Exeter's plan to hold a competition for LGBT History Month. The decision was made to open up the competition to Exeter College students as a way to build and show-off their communication skills as well as to champion the contributions of LGBTQIA+ individuals to Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine.

Nov 12 2019: Community star gazing

Following the success of previous "Park in the Dark" events, we visited Stoke Hill primary school playing fields to deliver star-gazing and hands-on astronomy demonstrations. Unfortunately, the weather wasn't in our favour and, with the exception of a few glances at the full moon through binoculars in the limited amount of time it was behind thin rather than thick cloud, we relied on the table-top activities to spur discussions about astronomy with visitors. Visitors learned about magnetism in the Solar System, about reflector telescope optics, and about constellation mythology in different cultures around the world.

Oct 20-29 2019: MIRC-X observations

Telescope observations using the MIRC-X instrument at the CHARA Array, Mount Wilson Observatory, Los Angeles. These observations were part of our large programme to survey young stellar objects.

Oct 17 2019: Fellowship Application Submission

I submitted an application for the Royal Astronomical & Norman Lockyer Research Fellowships. Assessment of all applications will take place over the next few months with the final decision being made in February 2020.

Oct 16 2019: Contract Signing

Having been interviewed for the position a few weeks earlier, I signed the dotted line confirming that, from April 2020, I will be joining the research group of Prof. Tim Harries. This secures my contract with the University of Exeter until 2023.

Oct 7 2019: Journal Referee

I was invited to peer review a scientific publication for a major journal. Although I've been on Time Allocation Committees for telescopes before, this was the first time I'd been invited to review a paper for a journal and marks a major milestone in my research career.

Sep 26 2019: ESO Proposal Submission

I spent September preparing proposals for observations which require use of telescopes operated by the European Southern Observatory (ESO). These are each geared towards learning more about the process of star and planetary system formation.

Sep 4 2019: LOC meeting

I've been asked to be part of the local organising committee (LOC) for a conference on high angular resolution astronomy. The conference itself will be taking place during April 2020. See here for further information. At this meeting, we assessed what needs to be done ahead of setting the budget for the conference.

Aug 27 & 29 2019: Remote MIRC-X observations

I carried out two nights of telescope observations using the MIRC-X instrument remotely from Exeter. These observations were part of our large programme to survey young stellar objects.

Jul 1-Aug 2 2019: Summer student

I suprvised summer student Daniel Barker for a month-long project. Daniel performed a full parameter exploration of the disk wind model in TORUS and worked towards automating plotting of the output model density and temperature distributions with VisIt.

Jul 15 2019: PRISM Diversity Workshop

I organised a workshop on equity, diversity and inclusion in STEMM (science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine) which was run by Kayisha Payne, founder of the Black British Professionals in STEM (BBSTEM) organisation. I'm extremely grateful to the Institute of Physics and to Tech Exeter for providing the funds which helped to make the event the success that it was.

Jul 8-12 2019: Work experience student

I suprvised year 12 work experience student Katherine Page for a week-long project designing observation sequences to be used at CHARA for our MIRC-X scheduled for later in the month.

Jul 5 2019: Univeristy of South Wales

I was invited to the University of South Wales to speak about my research on the second International Day of LGBTQ+ individuals in STEM. I presented results from the LGBTQ+ Physical Sciences Climate Survey, spoke about my own experiences as an LGBTQ+ astronomer, and gave a brief overiew of my research.

Jun 18-29 2019: MIRC-X observations

I conducted 8 nights of observations as part of our young stellar object survey with MIRC-X at CHARA. Due to the length of this observing run, these observations were conducted in situ rather than remotely.

Jun 11 2019: STS Training

As part of our continued engineering work with the MIRC-X at CHARA, I undertook training with the newly installed six telescope simulator (STS) which dramatically improves the phase calibration.

Jun 4 2019: Remote MIRC-X observing

I conducted a single night of observations for our young stellar object survey with MIRC-X remotely from Exeter.

May 29 2019: Article published

A paper I have co-authored entitled "Dusty disk winds at the sublimation rim of the highly inclined, low mass YSO SU Aurigae", led by PhD student Aaron Labdon, has been accepted for publication in Astronomy & Astrophysics. See here.

May 22-25 2019: Visit Leicester

I visited the University of Leicester on the invitation of Dr Richard Alexander and his research group and presented a seminar on star-disk misalignment.