The Stellar Initial Mass Function

The Initial Mass Function (IMF) describes the proportion of massive stars in a galaxy to those which are lighter than our sun. It's key for understanding a galaxy's lifecycle, and gives important clues to how the galaxy formed in the first place. I try to measure the IMF within galaxies by looking for the "fingerprints" of low-mass stars in the spectra of their integrated light.


Integral Field Spectroscopy is a revolutionary technique for understanding what's going on within galaxies. We have large collections of obsverations of galaxies in the local Universe (from surveys like MANGA, SAMI and CALIFA) and also much further back in time (e.g. KROSS, KMOS-3D and the KMOS Clusters survey), but a lack of similar observations inbetween. I'm a co-PI of K-CLASH, a project which aims to fill this gap by observing star-forming galaxies around 5 billion years ago, using the KMOS instrument at the Very Large Telescope in the Atacama desert.

Statistics and Software

I'm interested in learning new statistical techniques to make better sense of the large amounts of data astronomers produce. I also write open source software (mainly in python) and experiment with machine learning tools and deep neural networks. I have developed a package to fit galaxy spectra with population models (soon to be publically available), written a pure python/numpy implementation of a deep neural network to classify hand-written numbers (MNIST) and collaborated on a project to create plausibly-sounding fake scientific titles using natural language processing tools


I've been lucky enough to travel to some amazing places during my studies, with 8 nights observing experience across the 200-inch telescope at Palomar Observatory, California and the Very Large Telescope in the Atacama Desert, Chile.