Introducing Karen Masters

Dr. Karen Masters (@KarenLMasters) is a Reader in Astronomy and Astrophysics at the Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation, University of Portsmouth. Her research interests are in the area of extragalactic astronomy typically using data from large surveys. She is the Spokesperson for the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS-IV; @sdssurveys), a job which involves maintaining the scientific collaboration, working on press releases and co-ordinating the SDSS Data Release paper among other things. Karen regularly observes with the Green Bank Telescope at 21cm to measure the neutral hydrogen content of galaxies in the SDSS-IV MaNGA (Mapping Nearby Galaxies at APO; @MaNGAsurvey) survey sample. She is also the Project Scientist for Galaxy Zoo (@galaxyzoo) and often uses information on galaxy shapes and types collected from this citizen science project in her research.

Dr. Masters is a passionate advocate for the use of citizen science in research, and the benefits this brings to both researchers and the members of the public who participate. She has published numerous papers making use of Galaxy Zoo classifications, and has also investigate the scientific learning which happens when people engage with citizen science projects.

Dr. Masters grew up in the Midlands of the UK, was state-school educated and went on to read Physics at Oxford (Wadham College) where she graduated top of the BA class in 2000. She moved to the US to study for a PhD in Astronomy at Cornell University, and spent 3 years working as a researcher at the Harvard College Observatory before moving back to the UK in 2008. In 2014 she had the honour of being named the British “Women of the Future” for Science, as well as being listed as of the BBC’s “100 Women”. She is married to a fellow academic and is the mother of two young children.

Introducing Franco Vazza

Franco Vazza  (@franco_vazza) is an astrophysicists who uses large cosmological simulations ( to understand how elusive processes in the Universe work.
After getting is PhD from the University of Bologna (Italy) in 2009, he spent several nice years of Post-Doc at the Jacobs University in Bremen and at the Observatory of Hamburg (Germany). He is currently a Post-Doc Fellow co-funded by the Italian Institute of Astrophysics (INAF) and the the Horizon2020 initiative of the European Union, through the Marie Slodowska Curie Initiative Astrofit2.

In particular, he is interested in non-thermal processes in galaxy clusters and in cosmic filaments, like the  acceleration of cosmic rays, the onset of plasma turbulent motions and the origin of extragalactic magnetic fields.
Complex simulations (often involving ad-hoc code development) are necessary to model how each of these processes may emerge during the formation of cosmic structure, and in order to compare as closely as possible with the real observations coming from radio, X-ray and gamma telescopes.

His long term project MAGCOW (The MAGnetised COsmic Web) has recently received and ERC Starting Grant from the European Union, and will be based from the 1st of September 2017 at the University of Bologna and at the University of Hamburg. The most ambitious goal of this project is to enable the Square Kilometer Array to use its future deep observations to have sure detections of the rarefied cosmic web   (, and to assess the most likely origin of magnetic fields.

His homepage (including pretty pictures and movies of his work) is
He is also a long time contributor to the Italian astro-amateur magazine “Le Stelle”.