I tutor a range of topics in physics for St Catherine’s students in the first three years of their degrees, including special relativity, cosmology and electromagnetism. For the Department of Physics, I give a short option lecture course on “Stars and Galaxies” to the second and third year, and I am Head of the Astrophysics Laboratory for the third year undergraduates (and previously was Head of Lab for first year optics).

About me

I joined St Catherine’s College in 2008 as a Fellow in Physics, and as a Reader in Astrophysics in the Physics department. I moved from being Head of Astronomy at the Anglo-Australian Observatory, based in Sydney. I also previously held a Faculty position in physics at the University of Exeter, and was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Cambridge for five years, and at the University of California, Berkeley for three years. I did both my undergraduate degree and doctorate at Oxford. I am on the Instrument Science Team for the NIRSpec spectrograph on the James Webb Space Telescope (the successor to Hubble, to be launched around 2018), and I am an editor of Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, the main British journal for astronomy and astrophysics.


I am an astronomer, and my main interest is finding very distant galaxies. For this, I use the Hubble Space Telescope, and large telescopes on the ground (involving lots of trips to Hawaii and Chile).  The scientific goal is to explore the formation and evolution of galaxies – as light travels at a fast (but finite) rate, the Universe was a lot younger when the light we see now left these distant objects.  I study the astrophysics of how galaxies form, and when stars are born in the early Universe.

Graduate supervision

I have supervised a number of students in Oxford. Joseph Caruana (DPhil 2009-12) is now a postdoctoral researcher at the Leibniz Institute in Potsdam, Germany, and Silvio Lorenzoni (DPhil 2009-12) has moved on to be a postdoctoral researcher in Lisbon, Portugal. I currently supervise the DPhil of Holly Elbert, who started in 2012. I have also previously supervised PhD students at Cambridge, Exeter and Hertfordshire. I am College Advisor to a number of physics graduate students at St Catherine’s College.

Departmental webpage