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UCL Department of Space and Climate Physics

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Women of the Department of Space & Climate Physics

For International Women's Day, we wanted to find out more about the incredible women working in the Department.

Affelia Wibisono

PhD Student at MSSL

affelia

"Never let your fear decide you" - Awolnation

I study how and why Jupiter’s northern and southern lights emit bright X-rays by using data from XMM-Newton, the Juno spacecraft, and other space-based observatories. I also give a lot of public talks to get people interested in science.

I feel very lucky to be one of a very small number of people in the world who study Jupiter’s X-ray northern and southern lights. Knowing that I’m the first person to see the data and witness something that no one has ever seen Jupiter do before is very cool!


Ahlam al Qasim

PhD Student at MSSL and student PI of the Science Payload for the Light-1 Cubesat mission: 

ahlam

“Failure is not an option.” - Apollo 13 (1995)

For my PhD, I study the evolution of active galactic nuclei and how the behavior of their central supermassive black holes changes over cosmic time. For the Cubesat mission, my role revolves around the science and technical requirements for the payload to detect Terrestrial Gamma-ray Flahses, as well as the science simulations that drive those requirements.

My favorite part of my research is producing X-ray images of the sky using XMM satellite data, and seeing how beautiful space is. I love that the mission concept of Light-1 started out as an ambitious capstone thesis I pursued during my undergrad, and how it blossomed into a full scale mission now.

 


Anna Nash

AIT & Contamination Control Engineer

anna

“I can give you a six-word formula for success: Think things through - then follow through.” – Edward V Rickenbacker

My role entails overseeing and facilitating the assembly, integration, testing, and cleanliness of the flight hardware that flows through the cleanrooms at MSSL.  I also operate some of our thermal vacuum test chambers which simulate the environmental conditions that our scientific instruments will experience in space or on other planets.

One of the most interesting things about what I do is seeing how a bespoke scientific space instrument develops from a concept to a fully functioning, carefully engineered piece of flight hardware which can withstand the punishing conditions of space.


Catherine Regan

First year PhD student in Planetary Science at MSSL

catherine

“900 years of time and space and I’ve never met anyone that isn’t important.” – The Doctor

For my PhD, I research the Martian environment using satellite data to map and understand the plasma environment at Mars.

My favorite part of what I do is being able to further my research with the launch of Rosalind Franklin in 2022.


Choong Ling Liew-Cain

Astrophysics PhD student at MSSL

choong

“We understand so much. But the sky behind those lights – mostly void, partially stars? That sky reminds us we don't understand even more.” - Joseph Fink

My role entails looking at pictures of galaxies from telescopes and trying to understand what we see and why we see that. 

There are a lot of opportunities to get involved with things that aren't directly related to my work, which has let me explore other things that I am interested in.


Chris Brockley-Blatt, BEng CEng FIMechE

Senior Project Manager

Chris

"You manage things, you lead people." - Rear Admiral Grace Hopper

I lead the build team of scientists and engineers for a flight instrument called VIS on the ESA Euclid Mission. Euclid is a space-borne survey mission dedicated to investigate the origin of the Universe's accelerating expansion and the nature of dark energy, dark matter and gravity. Euclid will characterise the signatures of dark energy on the 3D distribution of cosmic structures.

I love my job as it's something different every day, with new problems to tackle.


Cynthia Ho

Exoplanets PhD Student at MSSL

cynthia

"And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." - 1 Corinthians 13:13 (NIV)

My role entails doing research by analysing data obtained from space telescopes, meeting weekly with my supervisor to discuss some science, reading literature to learn more about the cutting-edge research, attending seminars and meeting experts in the field, occasionally outreaching to school students to share the amazing things about exoplanets!

The most interesting parts of this are learning about how big and diverse our universe is, finding answers to the unknown, seeing others and myself getting excited about new planet discoveries, and perhaps even discovering a second Earth in the future!


Divya M. Persaud

PhD Student at MSSL

divya

"The time to make up your mind about people is never" -The Philadelphia Story (1940)

I work on making, visualising, and analysing 3D terrain data of the Curiosity rover landing site in Gale Crater, Mars, to understand the geological history of this area.

I love collaborating with my peers; there's so much to learn from others, even if they're far from one's niche.


Lucie Green

Royal Society University Research Fellow

lucie

“Fight for the things that you care about. But do it in a way that will lead others to join you.” - Ruth Bader Ginsburg

I carry out research into the origins of solar activity, help train the next generation of scientists and work towards making sure our department's research and engineering has impact across a range of audiences.

The most interesting aspects to what I do are learning something new about our local star and sparking a passion for space science in other people


Stephanie Yardley

Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Space Weather

stephanie

“Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud” - Maya Angelou

Stephanie is a postdoctoral research fellow in space weather based at UCL’s Mullard Space Science Laboratory. Her research focuses on the evolution of the Sun’s magnetic field in the lead up to solar eruptions and the production of solar energetic particles. Solar eruptive events can lead to spectacular displays of the aurora but can also cause severe disruption to our technological systems on Earth. Alongside her research she is actively involved in public engagement and outreach activities, which includes giving talks, demonstrations, and space related activities. She is also a Guest Lecturer and Resident Astronomer for various cruise lines.

One of the most interesting aspects to my role is the opportunities to discuss scientific ideas with colleagues from all over the world!


Silvia Zane

Professor of Astrophysics

'Lose you dreams and you will lose your mind' (Ruby Tuesday, RS)

What does my work entail?  Quite a lot indeed! I work on neutron stars and pulsars and to mimic their emission we have very complex numerical codes and we need to digest complex concepts in QED physics. I try to simulate the data observed in the X-ray and optical band. I also work a lot in the preparation of future space mission concepts, with space agencies as ESA, NASA and CAS. I do love teaching and is always a great pleasure to deal with my student's questions. 

Some of the aspects that interest me most to what I do, is the variety of concepts that I need to study, the fact that I come across different fields in physics but also I need to understand some engineering aspects and data analysis aspects. It is really stimulating. 

One of the most interesting aspects to my role is the opportunities to discuss scientific ideas with colleagues from all over the world!