UCL Department of Physics and Astronomy


Prof Michael Barlow

Emeritus Professor of Physics & Astronomy

Dept of Physics & Astronomy

Faculty of Maths & Physical Sciences

Joined UCL
1st Jun 2022


University of Sussex
Doctorate, Doctor of Philosophy | 1975
Queen's University of Belfast
First Degree, Bachelor of Science (Honours) | 1969


Following an undergraduate degree in Physics at Queen's University Belfast, I obtained a DPhil in Astrophysics at the University of Sussex, on the topic of `The growth and destruction of dust grains in interstellar space'. Roger Tayler was my thesis adviser. During the 1970's I spent three years in the US, first of all holding an ESRO-NASA Fellowship at the University of California, Berkeley, where I worked on dust physics and on observational infrared astronomy with Joe Silk and Martin Cohen. This was later followed by a Postdoctoral Fellowship at JILA, University of Colorado, where I worked on mass loss from hot stars with David Hummer, John Castor, Peter Conti and David Abbott. I then took a Staff Astronomer position at the Anglo-Australian Observatory, during Don Morton's Directorship. While at the AAO, I initiated an extensive optical spectroscopic programme on planetary nebulae and WO Wolf-Rayet stars. Returning from the AAO to the UK, I held an SERC Advanced Fellowship at UCL before being appointed to a `New Blood' Lectureship in 1983. I was promoted to Reader in 1989 and became a Professor of Astrophysics in 1994. I spent 1985-86 as a Visiting Fellow at JILA, University of Colorado.

Some of the projects that I have been involved in while at UCL include the production and commissioning of the CGS3 mid-infrared spectrometer for UKIRT; the Ultra-High Resolution Facility (UHRF) for the Anglo-Australian Telescope; and Co-Investigatorship in the Long Wavelength Spectrometer Consortium for ESA's 1995-1999 Infrared Space Observatory. I was a member of the Science Team for the SPIRE far-IR/submm imager/spectrometer on ESA's 2009-2013 Herschel Space Observatory and I am  a member of the European Science Team for the MIRI mid-infrared imager/spectrometer,  one of the main instruments on the James Webb Space Telescope that was launched in December 2021. My current research interests include observational and theoretical studies aimed at elucidating whether supernovae are significant dust contributors to galaxies, supported by a 2016-2022 European Research Council Advanced Grant (SNDUST - 694520; www.sndust.org), as well as observational and numerical modelling studies of nebulae and evolved stars in our own and other galaxies.