Introducing Matthew R. Francis

Matthew R. Francis [] is a science journalist, public speaker, educator, and wearer of jaunty hats. He received a PhD from Rutgers University in 2006, where he studied galaxy cluster cosmology, dark energy, and the mathematical structure of gravitational theories. After finishing his doctorate, he taught college and directed a small planetarium in Tennessee.
Since 2011, Matthew has been a full-time science writer, covering astronomy, physics, planetary science, and social issues within science. His articles have been published in Physics World, Symmetry, Smithsonian Air & Space Magazine, Mosaic, Slate, NOVA, and many others. [Link to portfolio: ] He uses his background in research and teaching to help in his writing. As someone who made the transition from academic science to journalism, he mentors others who are interested in making a similar transition.
Beyond science, Matthew is finishing his first novel (well, since his teenage writings, which are best forgotten). He enjoys playing music, reading comics, talking about his cats, and taking Star Wars far too seriously. He is on Twitter @DrMRFrancis more than he should be.

Introducing Mehmet Alpaslan

Mehmet Alpaslan (@mehmsy) is a postdoctoral fellow at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California. He is an extragalactic astronomer that studies the role of environment on the evolution of galaxies using data from from the Galaxy And Mass Assembly (GAMA) survey. Specifically, Mehmet models the large-scale distribution of galaxies, often referred to as the Cosmic Web, and tries to understand how (or, indeed, if) galaxies in filaments differ to those in voids. He is also interested in astrostatistics and will talk about the marvels of the programming language R ad nauseam.


Mehmet received his PhD from the University of St Andrews, having also studied at the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research at the University of Western Australia for two years during his doctoral training. Originally Turkish, he has lived in seven countries prior to his arrival in the US. He will most likely post photos of his goofy looking Ibizan hounds.

Introducing Stephanie Bernard

Stephanie Bernard is a third-year PhD student in the School of Physics at the University of Melbourne, in Australia. Her work focuses on galaxies during the epoch of reionisation, when the Universe was less than one billion years old. These galaxies are thought to contribute to the reionisation of the Universe, when the hydrogen in the Universe went from a neutral to an ionised state. Using imaging data from the Hubble Space Telescope’s Wide Field Camera 3, and follow-up observations with the Spitzer Space Telescope, Stephanie is looking for the very brightest, rarest galaxies during this time.

Stephanie received her BSc in physics from the University of Melbourne, and also received a concurrent diploma in Russian language. She then completed a MSc in physics, also from Melbourne, with thesis work on supernovae externally supervised at Swinburne University of Technology, also in Melbourne. She enjoys public outreach, and has worked with schools around Melbourne as a part of the Telescopes in Schools program, run by the Melbourne astrophysics group. Outside astronomy, she greatly enjoys film photography and knitting.