Short-Author Papers
Research outline

I am a Herchel Smith Fellow at the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics at the University of Cambridge. I'm interested in things that go bump in the fabric of space-time (aka, black holes crashing together). I am working to answer the question of how black holes and neutron stars find each other and collide, producing the space-time ripples that we observe with detectors like LIGO and Virgo. I did my PhD at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. My PhD supervisors were Associate Professor Paul Lasky and Professor Eric Thrane. I'm an alumnus of the OzGrav organisation and a member of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration.

In both my PhD thesis and my current work, I focus primarily on things to do with the dynamical assembly of binary black hole systems. I am particularly interested in different dynamical formation environments, such as globular clusters, AGN disks, and nuclear clusters.

The parameters of a binary leave an imprint on their gravitational-wave signal, and these can give us clues to how the binary formed. Sometimes, in dynamical environments, binaries can retain significant orbital eccentricity just before they merge; this leaves its mark on the gravitational-wave signal that we detect. Along with component masses, spins and redshift evolution, eccentricity can tell us about the way that a compact object binary formed. This video is a great illustration of a three-body interaction causing a highly eccentric binary.

In other projects, I’m involved in developing bilby, a modular Python library facilitating Bayesian inference, optimised for gravitational wave science.

I completed my MSci in Physics at Birmingham University in the UK. I did my Master's project with Professor Andreas Freise, using Python code to model the noise at gravitational wave detectors. I helped to develop Space Py Quest, a Python code that lets you simulate your own gravitational wave detections! Its more glamorous older sister is Space Time Quest, a game with lovely graphics that lets you build and run your own detector without touching the code.

During my time at the University of Birmingham, I worked with Professor Ilya Mandel as a summer student. I worked on comparing different methods of evolving virtual stars within COMPAS, a code that simulates and analyses stellar evolution in order to work out how LIGO’s observed binaries formed. These days, I am still working with Ilya and the COMPAS team to answer another formation mystery: how X-ray binaries are made.

If you’d like to have a chat about any of the above, please get in touch!