Research interests

My main research interest is the structure of disc galaxies. What makes those grand spiral arms we see in the galaxies in our night sky? Why are some barred and not all? What is the lifetime of such features? Can they be formed in isolation, or is a companion needed to induce some features? And how do these various arm and bar features impact on the gas in the galaxy?

Of special interest to me is the shape of our own galaxy; the Milky Way. Rather embarrassingly, we know less about the shape of the Milky Way than other galaxies because we are stuck inside. This makes building a map of the Milky Way, and thus understanding its structure, a lot more complicated.

To shed some light on these questions I perform numerical simulations using a variety of different numerical codes, simulating the gas, stars and dark matter within. I then compare what I see in my simulations to real observed galaixes to better understand the physics that makes them tick.

About me

I am currently a joint research and teaching staff at Hokkaido University in the city of Sapporo (Hokkaido, Japan). My research focusses on the structure of galaxies, and my teaching is tied to the Integrated Science Program. I gained my undergraduate degree at Durham University under the supervision of Vincent Eke on the topic of the existence of water on the lunar surface. I earned my Ph.D. from the University of Exeter where I worked on the problem of building a map of the Milky Way (see these articles). I then worked as a postdoc with Elizabeth Tasker on the topic of tidal encounters between galaxies and small companions.

When not spinning galaxies I enjoy exploring a bit more of beautiful Japan. In my spare time I enjoy of bouldering, going to the gym, and a good run, though Sapporo winters don't make that last one very easy. Like many astrophysicists I'm a bit of a sci-fi fan, and am yet to really grow out of graphic novels and video games.

A list of my publications can be found here, and my entry on Japan's ResearchMap database has some additional information about my research.


News archive here if you are so inclined!

Graduate students

I currently act as a supervisor for graduate students Veronica Zhang, on the topic of galactic spiral arm generation mechanisms, and Elizabeth Iles, who is studying star formation in isolated and interacting barred galaxies. If you would like to come and work on a project with me then have a little look around this website to get a feel for what I do, and then get in touch! Our graduate school and international support office websites have some more details on the specifics of how to apply.

Collaborators webpages

An incomplete and unordered list of collaborators from my publications:

James Wadsley, McMaster University, Canada
Sam Benincasa, UC Davis, U.S.A.
Elizabeth Tasker, ISAS/JAXA, Japan
Clare Dobbs, University of Exeter, U.K.
David Acreman, University of Exeter, U.K.
Fumi Egusa, University of Tokyo, Japan
Junichi Baba, NAOJ, Japan
Ana Duarte Cabral, Cardiff University, U.K.
Sarah Ragan, Cardiff University, U.K.
Takashi Okamoto, Hokkaido University, Japan
Daniel Price, Monash University, Australia