I am an associate professor in the Department of Physics and Graduate School of Cosmosciences at Hokkaido University, Japan.
Our group webpage, showing current members and an overview of all our interests can be found here.
And if hard facts are what you crave, a copy of my CV (updated 2014) is here.
Building the Universe inside a computer
My research focusses on exploring galaxy, star and planet formation using numerical simulations. The code I predominantly use is 'Enzo': an adaptive mesh refinement simulation code for calculating gas evolution.
The coldest gas in our galaxy forms extended structures known at the Giant Molecular Clouds. These are the nurseries for the stellar population and their properties --such as mass, density, size and internal velocities-- control where and when stars are born. But what controls the evolution of these clouds?
High resolution simulations of galaxy discs suggest that a star-forming cloud does not lead a quiet existence. Instead, regular collisions and interactions with neighbouring clouds --often encouraged by the spiral and bar structures-- dominate the cloud's evolution. It is possible that such interactions even control the star formation rate, creating dense shock fronts where massive stars or clusters can form. Studying these occurrences both in global simulations (whole galaxy) or single cloud collisions forms a major area of research for my group.
Another key area of research is planet formation. Planets form in discs of dust and gas that circle young stars by the steady collision of smaller particles. During a new planetary system's later evolution, the new worlds may be bombarded by the remaining rocky planetesimals of sizes akin to our asteroid belt. Does such a bombardment leave observational signatures? Or can we only infer its action from theoretical models?
(Roughly) Every month, we cover a different researcher's work at Hokkaido University. The blog posts are about 1,000 words and should be understandable with no background in the field being discussed. Topics have ranged from space missions to voting policies and marine life to animal diseases!
Writing this blog has been one of my favourite parts of my job: never before have I felt able to saunter into someone's laboratory and demand an explanation! (OK, I typically do call first). If you are a member of Hokkaido University, interested in writing for our blog or would like your work covered, please get in contact. This month's post and previous articles can be found here.
Writing for the media
Explaining ideas clearly to a non-specialised audience is immensely satisfying. Also, having the chance to bring a researcher's work to public attention is a little like having a superpower -- who doesn't like that? No one.
My general science articles have appeared in a number of media publications including 'Scientific American', 'Astronomy Magazine', 'Nautilus', 'The Conversation', 'IFLScience' and 'Physics Focus'. A complete bibliography can be found on my personal webpage here.
My popular science book, 'The Planet Factory', on exoplanet discoveries has been commissioned by Bloomsbury Sigma, with a provisional publication date of summer 2017.
I've given a number of public lectures on topics that include JAXA's Hayabusa2 mission to the asteroids (A TEDx talk), NASA's New Horizon mission to Pluto, a general overview of my group's research and a (hopefully) inspiring astronomy talk for school children.
I highlight a few topics from my own research on the Graduate School of Science's prospective video [long version] and [short version] (worth watching also for the scenes around campus! Although the amount of snow is poorly represented). The talk I gave at Otaru University of Commerce on my research [is available here] while my TEDx talk on Hayabusa2 is below.
I teach two first year undergraduate courses covering basic physics.
In the second semester, we cover thermodynamics (first law), electromagnetism and touch on quantum mechanics.
Since most of my students are not native-level English speakers, my courses use powerpoint presentations that include many graphics and movies. I also use the clicker system for in-class questions (keeps students awake and allows me a 5 minute break!). Three or four times during the semester, we watch short movies and read science news stories to see physics beyond the first year syllabus.
I was delighted to be awards the 'Hokkaido University President's Award for Education' in 2014, 2015 and 2016 and be listed as an 'Excellent Teacher' for the last three years.