The Centre for Planetary Sciences at UCL / Birkbeck

Prof Alan Aylward

Prof Alan Aylward

Emeritus Professor of Atmospheric Physics

Dept of Physics & Astronomy

Faculty of Maths & Physical Sciences

Joined UCL
1st Jan 1992

Research summary

Initial research was using cloud releases from rockets and rocket magnetometers to measure upper atmosphere winds. Then worked with EISCAT (European Incoherent Scatter Radar Association), writing the operating system and analysis system, and later supporting research groups on campaigns at EISCAT.  At RAL did research into the ionosphere which continued when I joined UCL. There the main research topics were Ionospheric research, Thermospheric Research and Modelling of the Earth's thermosphere and ionosphere initially, but thus was followed by Modelling of planetary thermosphere/ionospheres (Mars Titan Jupiter Saturn) and later Modelling of exoplanet atmospheres.

Teaching summary

Have taught computing and microprocessor course, Solar System Science, Earth Sciences and Environmental Sciences. Ran the 3rd year Group Projects for 10 years Have also done tutorials, Mathematica course, Introduction to Computing Course and Laboratory Demonstration. Retired from full-time teaching 2012


Born London England, where early education was in state schools ending in grammar school in Woolwich. Moved to  Poole Grammar in 1965. 1st degree was Natural Sciences in Cambridge. Then did Diploma in Space Science at UCL, worked for Guided Weapon Division of British Aircraft Corporation in Filton Bristol for a year, then back to UCL for the PhD. 1975-1979 worked as a Technical Consultant for computer time-sharing firms, before taking up role as programmer at EISCAT (European Incoherent SCATter radar association.) On coming back to the UK I worked at Rutherford AppletonLab supporting EISCAT science than in 1992 joined UCL (see research summary). Married Tuija in 1971, with whom I had two sons, Jan and Kai. Tuija died in 1992 and Jan in 2001. I remarried (Janet) in 1994. Interests include opera, science fiction and politics.