Hicks observatory, photo by Andy Brown

I'm a Professor within the Astrophysics group and have recently served as interim Head of Department (from June 2016 - Jan 2017) in Physics and Astronomy at the University of Sheffield.

My primary research interests involve studies of Massive Stars in the Milky Way and other star-forming galaxies, for which I have co-authored 140+ refereed papers, including an Annual Review article on the Properties of Wolf-Rayet stars and co-authored a monograph From Luminous Hot Stars to Starburst Galaxies, published in the Cambridge Astrophysics Series. I have written about the Birth, Life and Death of Massive Stars for Astronomy & Geophysics from the 2012 IAU GA.

The above image shows the LMC giant star forming region, the Tarantula Nebula, and its dominant ionizing star cluster R136. The brightest sources in R136 were the focus of a study that I led a study which resulted in a Stars just got bigger Press Release from ESO in July 2010 (see FAQ and Deep Sky Videos film). Current research activities involve a HST/STIS spectroscopic study of the R136 cluster, see Hubble unveils monster stars Press Release from ESA in March 2016, an ESO Large Programme VLT/FLAMES Tarantula Survey, a deep Chandra X-ray study entitled Tarantula - Revealed by X-rays (T-ReX) plus VLT/MUSE observations of the central ionized nebula NGC2070.

At present, my research group comprises one postdoc (Dr Saida Caballero-Nieves until Dec 2016, Dr Joachim Bestenlehner from April 2017), and two PhD students Ms Katie Tehrani and Ms Gemma Rate. I usually teach several astrophysics courses, but am on sabbatical throughout 2017, so only delivered a component of Stellar Evolution (PHY404) in 2016/17. Undergraduate 3rd and 4th year projects are closely related to my research interests, e.g. Wolf-Rayet database assembled by two M.Phys students.

I'm involved in a variety of outreach activities, including the Deep Sky Videos channel. Together with Stewart Campbell, i've co-organised Sounds of the Cosmos, involving a performance of the Planets Suite with astronomy visuals by graphic designers Human interspersed with a short narrative overview of astronomy for Festival of the Mind. This was recommissioned for 2015 Doc/Fest involving a reworked performance of Doc/Fest: Sounds of the Cosmos at the Crucible Theatre. A further performance took place at the 2015 Latitude Festival - see link.