Professor Jonathan I Davies BA, Bsc, PhD

Professor Jonathan I Davies

BA, Bsc, PhD

School of Physics and Astronomy

+44 (0)29 2087 5255
N/3.19, Queen's Buildings - North Building, 5 The Parade, Newport Road, Cardiff, CF24 3AA
Available for postgraduate supervision

I have previously been involved in almost all operational aspects of the School of Physics and Astronomy from student recruitment, teaching and examinations. I am currently on a research only contract as my work is fully financed by an European grant. Current research interests are cosmic dust, low surface brightness galaxies and the history of astronomy in Wales.

I left school at the age of 16 and did an apprenticeship as a motor mechanic which has helped me enormously in all sorts of practical jobs that otherwise I would not have had the courage to tackle. After various other jobs I graduated in Physics from Bristol University in 1986. In the same year I obtained an Open University degree and started a PhD here in Cardiff. I have been here ever since starting off doing postgraduate research and then lecturing. I am now a Professor in the school with a special interest in extra-galactic astronomy.

Honours and awards

I have organised three big international conferences here in Cardiff in each case chairing the scientific organising committee. 'The Opacity of Spiral Discs', 1994, 'The Low Surface Brightness Universe', 1998, 'Dark Galaxies and Lost Baryons', 2007. I have been involved over many years with time allocation to telescopes and at one time chaired the time allocation committee of the Issac Newton Group. I was chair of the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (PPARC) wide field astronomy panel and have chaired a number of rolling grant review panels. I was on the PPARC panel that advised on the allocation of £25M of government e-science money. I regularly referee papers for scientific journals and applications for research grants and fellowships.

I am principle investigator of the 2.1 million euro EU funded project DustPedia.

I am currently external examiner for Physics at both Bristol and Warwick Universities.

None - research only

I am currently interested in three primary areas of research:
1. I have been involved in numerous space based projects that have investigated the emission from cold dust (about 20K) from galaxies. Dust plays an important role in the evolution of the interstellar medium and in the chemical evolution of galaxies as a whole. I led the Herschel Space Telescope survey of the nearby Virgo galaxy cluster in which we consider the dust emission properties of the numerous galaxies of various morphological types. I am the principal investigator of the DustPedia project. DustPedia is a collaboration of six research establishments from across Europe (UK, Belgium, France, Greece and Italy). The project is funded by a European research grant. The objective is to better understand the role dust plays in the interstellar medium via modelling of; dust grain physical properties, spectral energy distributions and a full Monte Carlo radiative transfer analysis. The models are compared with our own extensive database primarily obtained from the Herschel Space Telescope database, but combined with data at other wavelengths giving spectral energy distributions measured at typically thirty points from the ultra-violet to the sub-mm.
2. I am interested in investigating the low surface brightness (LSB) universe. This is the possibility that there are numerous stars present in the Universe that reside in regions that are of such low surface density that they have as yet not been detected. The problem is one of detecting LSB features against what are relatively bright backgrounds. These LSB features maybe galaxies, both giant and dwarf, tidal features from galaxy interactions and material associated with the cosmic web. We are developing efficient algorithms to detect in an automated way these features and will hopefully apply these to large datasets such as that which will eventually become available from surveys such as LSST.
3. From an interest in the history of astronomy has developed some work in collaboration with members of the School of Archaeology on the possibility of using satellite imaging to measure and possibly discover new archaeological sites. Essentially by using some of the image processing techniques we use in astronomy. We are currently discussing a project with Historic England.

Current supervision

Daniel Prole

Research student

Ruth Evans

Research student

Areas of expertise