I grew up in West Yorkshire, attending King James' School and Greenhead College, before studying mathematics and astronomy (BSc) at University College London (1986–89) followed by a PhD in the UCL astrophysics group, under the supervision of Professor Allan Willis and Dr Linda Smith (1989–93).
I spent five years as a Research Council (PPARC) funded postdoc at UCL, before receiving a Royal Society University Research Fellowship which I held at UCL (1998–2003) and Sheffield (2003–06). I was initially appointed to Lectureship in Sheffield (2003–05), followed by a Readership (2005–06) and Personal Chair (2007–).
I have previously served on the Royal Society University Research Fellowship Ai appointment committee (2014-2016, Deputy Chair, 2016-2018).
I was the Director of Learning and Teaching of the Department of Physics and Astronomy from 2012–16, Head of Department from Jan 2018 to Aug 2022, having earlier been interim HoD between June 2016 and January 2017. I was also a member of University Senate between 2011-2020.
Positions held and memberships
I have previously served on the following:
TAC member and sub-panel chair for HST Cycle 28 (2020)
IAU Commission 29: Stellar Spectra. Organising Ctte Member (2012–15)
E-ELT UK Design Study Steering Ctte (2009-2016)
IAU working group on massive stars. Organising Ctte Member (2003–12)
TAC member and sub-panel chair for HST Cycle 18 (2010)
Sub-panel member for Spitzer Cycle 5 (2008)
Gemini Telescopes. UK National Time Allocation Committee (NTAC) Chair from semester 08A until 09B, and PATT linked grants panel member.
Sub-panel member for HST Cycle 16 (2007)
Isaac Newton Group (ING) board member (2004–07)
ESO Observing Proposal Ctte (OPC), member-at-large (2001–03)
I have contributed the following (guest) blog posts:
Researchers excluded from European research network due to Brexit via Institute of Physics blog (5 August 2016) – see also Nature News item
The public's appetite for astronomy via Nature Blog (21 December 2011)
Physics and binary creep via Telescoper (15 April 2011)
The astronomical premiership via Telescoper (2 April 2011)
UK space liftoff via The e-Astronomer (21 March 2010)
Life after STFC? via The e-Astronomer (18 December 2009)
I have made the following contributions to UK science policy:
Research council allocations promise four more years of pain from Research Fortnight (March 2016)
Viewpoint: Science cuts 'could lead to brain drain' from BBC Science News (19 October 2010)
Search for a positive signal letter to Times Higher Education (4 February 2010)
Much left for newly interactive facilities council to do from Research Fortnight (18 March 2009)
Letter to Times Higher Education (May 2008)
Trail of ineptitude from Research Fortnight (23 April 2008)
An astronomer's view of funding cuts from BBC Science News (April 2008)
Dance to the music of stars from Research Fortnight (20 February 2008)
Letter to The Guardian (December 2007)