Introducing Nick Attree

Nick Attree (@nick_attree) is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Stirling in Scotland, working on thermal modelling in support of the InSight mission. InSight, which lands on Mars on the 26th November, will measure subsurface temperatures up to 5 m deep in order to determine the geothermal heat flow, as well as measuring Mars-quakes! The group at Stirling is interested in the physical and mechanical properties of the upper regolith layers, and how these affect the heat flow measurements.

Nick worked previously at the Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Marseille, in the south of France, on the MiARD (Multi Instrument Analysis of Rosetta Data) project, using modelling and data from ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft to explore the physical and mechanical properties of comet 67P. In particular, he used OSIRIS camera images to analyse surface features, such as overhanging cliffs and fractures, to investigate the mechanical strength of the nucleus material, as well as navigation and position data, to measure the effects of outgassing on the comet’s orbit.

Nick completed his PhD at Queen Mary University of London, working with Cassini data on collisions in Saturn’s F ring. Before that, he obtained his MPhys degree in Physics with Planetary Science from Leicester University.

Outside of research, he enjoys football (watching and playing), walking, reading, sci-fi, music, coffee & cake, and exploring new places in Scotland!

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Reintroducing Ward Howard

Ward Howard is a PhD candidate in physics and astronomy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He researches the impact of stellar activity on the detection and habitability of exoplanets around nearby stars by measuring their flare rates using data from the Evryscopes, an ultra-wide survey of the entire visible sky every two minutes. Evryscope-South has produced millions of high-cadence, multi-year light-curves, making feasible long-term monitoring of starspots, star-planet interactions, and large flares, including a superflare from our nearest stellar neighbor, Proxima Centauri, which bathed its terrestrial planet Proxima b with lethal doses of UV radiation. Evryscope-North is now also active, which Ward helped to deploy earlier this year in collaboration with SDSU.

Ward is also excited by the synergies between visible-light Evryscopes and radio telescopes in understanding stellar activity and space weather. This combination allows us to look for exoplanet magnetic fields and investigate mysterious sub-mm flares observed on red dwarfs and what they might mean for habitable exoplanets.

Ward grew up in High Point, NC and was initially inspired to study astronomy by the friendly and enthusiastic staff of the Jamestown, NC Cline Observatory. In 2015, Ward received a BS in physics and mathematics from Union University in Jackson, TN. He enjoys good books (esp. science fiction and fantasy), coffee, physics outreach, and running/hiking.

Introducing Emma Alexander

Emma Alexander (@Emma_Alexander) is a radio astronomer studying the magnetic fields of radio galaxies. She is currently doing her PhD at the Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics (University of Manchester, UK), working on POSSUM, the POlarisation Sky Survey of the Universe’s Magnetism. POSSUM is of the projects currently being undertaken with ASKAP, the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder telescope, and covers a wide range of polarisation and magnetism science. Emma focuses on well-resolved radio galaxies and the magnetic fields of their lobes, which are radio-bright structures extending from the central Active Galactic Nucleus (AGN).

Emma also has a background in amateur astronomy, but doesn’t get the chance to get out of the city as often as she’d like to observe. She is also active in scientific outreach – both in person and through media – including appearances on national radio and working on the Jodcast (@Jodcast), an astronomy podcast run by Jodrell Bank astronomers. Outside of astronomy, she enjoys playing netball, cooking & baking vegan foods, and looking after her pets: two guinea pigs and a cat.