Introducing Jonathan Nichols

Jonathan Nichols is a Lecturer and Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) Advanced Fellow in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Leicester.  His background is the magnetic fields and auroras of the outer planets, and more recently exoplanets and ultra-cool dwarfs.   He obtained his PhD from the University of Leicester in 2004 and, following a spell at Boston University, returned to the Leicester, where he is now in the 4th year of an Advanced Fellowship and a lecturer. 

Jonathan uses a combination of computational modelling, spacecraft data analysis (where available!) and remote sensing to study the magnetospheres and auroras (“northern/southern lights”) of Jupiter, Saturn and similar bodies beyond the solar system.  Specifically, he uses the Hubble Space Telescope to observe the UV auroras on the outer planets, and compares these with theoretical models in order to discover how their magnetospheres behave.  Similar ideas regarding the dynamics of these magnetosphere can be applied to exoplanets and brown dwarfs, leading to novel methods of characterising or possibly even detecting these objects.  

Jonathan normally tweets at @jonny_nichols


Introducing Peter Williams

Peter K. G. Williams is an American astronomer at the Harvard/Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, MA. His recent research has centered on the magnetic fields of very low-mass stars and brown dwarfs, which were originally expected to be weak and unimportant but turn out to be surprisingly strong and structured. In fact, these magnetic fields are quite similar to those of the Solar System planets, even driving powerful aurorae. Peter’s studies are mostly based on radio-wave observations, and there’s a lot of excitement in the community about using new radio telescopes to probe the magnetic fields of exoplanets themselves. Along with his astrophysical research, he’s very interested in improving the ways that scientists write code, analyze their data, and communicate their results.

Peter is an early-career scientist; he got his PhD from UC Berkeley in 2012 and has been working at Harvard as a postdoc for three years. He currently lives in the Cambridge area and grew up around there, too. Normally he tweets as @pkgw.

Introducing Emily Rice

Emily Rice is an assistant professor in the Dept. of Engineering Science & Physics at the College of Staten Island (City University of New York), faculty in Physics at the CUNY Graduate Center, member of CUNY Astro, and resident research associate in the Dept. of Astrophysics at the American Museum of Natural History. She studies low mass stars, brown dwarfs, & exoplanets by studying their spectra and modeling their atmospheres. Additionally she is a co-author of a new lab manual for introductory college-level astronomy courses.

She frequently give public presentations, including at the Hayden Planetarium. Emily also makes fun videos, organize astronomy presentations at bars, and share science fashion. Some past projects include AMNH’s Science Bulletins and Cosmic Discoveries iPhone app.

You can find Emily tweeting at @emilylurice.