My enthusiasm and curiosity for understanding how objects work stemmed from an early age although, my fascination with space science grew at school when I was one of a small number of students selected to visit NASA’s Johnson and Kennedy Space Centers where I met various astronauts and even got a glimpse of the Mission Control room, Vehicle Assembly Building and the Neutral Buoyancy Lab!
Since then I have completed a Masters degree in physics at the University of Warwick and a PhD in solar physics at the Mullard Space Science Laboratory (MSSL), UCL in Surrey. MSSL is currently the largest university space-based research group in the UK and since the department was established in 1966 it has participated in more than 35 satellite missions and over 200 rocket experiments.
My PhD (supervised by Prof. Lucie Green, Dr. David Williams & Prof. Lidia van Driel-Gesztelyi) focused on studying magnetic field configurations present in the solar atmosphere which can support dense plasma that can become unstable and erupt driving hazardous space weather conditions near Earth.
Since completing my PhD in November 2016, I moved to St Andrews University where I am continuing my research as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Solar & Magnetospheric Theory Group based in the School of Mathematics & Statistics. Observations alone cannot provide a full description of solar eruptions and so I hope to combine them with models of the solar magnetic field. These magnetic models of the solar corona are created by using the solar surface magnetic field as an initial input. The computed field is then evolved in time until an eruption occurs, the timing of which should be close to when the eruption occurs in observations. This work should contribute to improving space weather prediction.
I have become actively engaged in discussing space science with audiences outside my research area. I enjoy giving talks to the public and have presented a lecture series on Fred Olsen and Saga cruise ships, visiting schools to give talks, provide demonstrations and space related activities for children of all ages, including organising workshops for A-level students packed full of lectures and solar related activities. I also enjoy writing science articles with recent pieces appearing on an aurora alerts page called Soft Serve News, in the UCL Science blog and the UK Space Agency Magazine.
I am a co-founder of the Early Career Women’s Network at the University of St Andrews. EWCN provides a space for like-minded, self-defining women to come together to network and discuss topics of mutual interest in a supportive environment. ECWN organises invited talks and networking sessions, among other events, that focuses on the many-faceted working lives of early career women. Anyone who defines themselves as an ‘early career woman’ in any staff post is welcome to join our network, including final year PhD students.
I am also part of the Women In Science St Andrews (WISSA) team. The ethos of WISSA is to provide an informal environment for women in science to interact and network at the University of St Andrews.