Research Group

Welcome to my page on our research group at the University of Bristol. I moved to Bristol in Feb 2020 to start a the Exoplanet Timeseries Characterisation (ExoTiC) team researching the atmospheres of exoplanets from observations with Hubble and JWST.

ExoTiC Team

Hannah Wakeford

Dr Hannah Wakeford leads the ExoTiC team at the University of Bristol in the School of Physics Astrophysics theme. Hannah is an expert in atmospheric characterization of transiting exoplanets and science communication. Her work primarily uses spectroscopic time series observations of the planets during transit and eclipse to measure the composition and structure of their atmospheres. You can find her analysis pipelines on GitHub, and other scientific data in the tab above. Dr Wakeford is a member of a number of research collaborations and serves as an ESA representative on the Hubble Space Telescope Users Committee (STUC). As a science communicator, Hannah is co-author of the popular science book Bang!! The Complete History of the Universe, is a co-host and producer of Exocast: The Exoplanet Podcast, and regularly gives talks and interviews for science events.

Below I list the members of my team from junior to senior followed by visiting researchers and previous associates.

MSc Research students:

Charlotte Fairman

Charlotte Fairman is a Masters by Research at the University of Bristol working with Dr Wakeford to test the retrieved characteristics of exoplanet transmission spectra as a function of wavelength. Charlotte previously completed a BSc in Physics with Astrophysics at the University of Bristol and is currently applying for PhD positions in Astrophysics.

PhD students:

Daniel Valentine (Jan 2023 – Sep 2027)

Daniel Valentine is a School of Physics and STFC funded postgraduate student at the University of Bristol working with Dr Wakeford to analyze and map the emission spectra of exoplanets using JWST. Daniel previously completed his MSci with the University of Leeds.

Matt Lodge (Jan 2022 – Sep 2026)
Matt Lodge is a School of Physics postgraduate student at the University of Bristol working with Dr Wakeford and Dr Leinhardt to develop theoretical models to evaluate the impact that realistic fractal particles, compared to spherical, will have on their scattering and absorption properties. Matt previously completed his undergraduate work at the University of Exeter in 2011 before moving on to complete a PGCE in Physics Education and was a secondary school teacher at Blundell’s School in Tiverton UK before starting his PhD at Bristol in 2022. You can find Matt’s publications on ADS and information on the Bristol website.

Lili Alderson (Sep 2020 – Mar 2024)

Lili Alderson is a School of Physics and STFC funded postgraduate student at the University of Bristol working with Dr Wakeford to analyze the transmission spectra of exoplanets using Hubble and JWST. Lili is part of multiple successful observing programs on JWST and recently led the Transiting Exoplanet Community ERS programs observations of WASP-39b with the NIRSpec G395H publishing the teams work in Nature. Lili has also published work from Hubble observations with an analysis of data from the Hubble and Spitzer Space Telescopes on the hot Jupiter WASP-17b. Lili previously completed her MSci with the University of Southampton with a research year spent at the Center for Astrophysics, Harvard | Smithsonian. You can find Lili’s publications on ADS and information on her personal website lili-alderson.com

Postdoctoral Researchers:

David Grant (Sep 2021 – Sep 2024)

Dr David Grant is a STFC funded postdoctoral researcher at the University of Bristol working with Dr Wakeford to analyse the spectra of exoplanets using JWST. David has published his work on Transmission Strings a new technique to map the transmitting limb of exoplanet atmospheres and is working on a number of follow-up studies. David’s focus will be on JWST MIRI LRS observations of transiting exoplanets. David previously completed his PhD at the University of Oxford. You can find David’s publications on ADS and information on his personal GitHub.

Visiting Members:

Visiting Associate Professor Nikole Lewis (Jan – June 2023)

Associate Professor Nikole Lewis is visiting for a six-month sabbatical from Cornell University in the USA where she leads a group investigating the atmospheres of exoplanets and brown dwarfs. Nikole is visiting the University of Bristol to work with Dr Wakeford and her team on JWST observations as part of Professor Lewis’ GTO program to measure the atmosphere of a hot Jupiter.

Visiting Research Student Michael Radical (Feb – April 2023)

Michael Radica is a PhD student at the University of Montreal, Canada working on observational analysis of exoplanet atmospheres. Michael is visiting the University of Bristol to work with Dr Wakeford on observations he is leading using the Hubble Space Telescopes WFC3-UVIS instrument.

Previous Associates with ExoTiC

Iva Laginja

Dr Iva Laginja is an astrophysics researcher at LESIA, Paris, France. Iva was a Research Instrument Analyst at Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) before obtaining a PhD in instrumentation from the University of Merseille, France. While at STScI, Iva worked with Dr Wakeford on development of the ExoTiC-ISM python package to analyse time series observations from the Hubble Space Telescope. You can find the ExoTiC-ISM package and associated work on GitHub.

The University of Bristol has a vibrant and diverse Astrophysics Group. In exoplanet studies Dr Zoë Leinhardt and her team using numerical simulations to model early planet collisions and formation including the effects on atmospheres. You can find their research page HERE.

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