Brasenose College is delighted to welcome Professor Jayne Birkby as a new Physics tutor.
Professor Birkby, whose field is astrophysics, completed her undergraduate studies at Durham University before moving to Cambridge for doctoral research. She has worked at the Anglo-Australian Observatory in Sydney, the Leiden Observatory in the Netherlands, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Massachusetts and most recently the University of Amsterdam.
Her research contributes to answering a simple yet powerful question: are we alone in the Universe? With instruments such as the extremely large and giant segmented mirror telescopes, scientists may soon be in the position for the first time in human history to find an answer. One key requirement in solving this conundrum is the discovery of exoplanets, the characterization of their atmospheres, and on precisely constraining models that describe the evolution of their host stars. This will be crucial in hunting for signs of life in habitable worlds in the future. Professor Birkby and her team recently detected water in the atmosphere of the Nobel prize-winning, original exoplanet, 51 Peg b using high-resolution infrared spectroscopy.
Professor Birkby’s research also includes the study of very low mass stars, the most numerous but enigmatic stars in our local stellar neighbourhood, as well as aiding in the design of new instrumentation to study exoplanets. Her goals are to understand how the incredible diversity of the exoplanet population was formed, and to survey the very nearest terrestrial exoplanets with the upcoming generations of Extremely Large Telescopes.
Commenting on her arrival at Brasenose, Professor Birkby said “I feel so welcomed and at home at Brasenose already, I can’t wait to meet all the students, and learn about all the other tutors’ research. In the Astrophysics department I’ll be working on exoplanets, so if you ever want to know how we are exploring other worlds beyond our Solar system, or even about adventures to telescopes across the world to observe them, please just get in touch, I’m always happy to talk.”
Read more about Physics at Brasenose.