Dr Paul Roche
MSc Astrophysics Programme Coordinator
Physics Education Research Group
Reader in Astrophysics
Course co-ordinator, MSc Astrophysics
ESERO-UK "Space Ambassador for Wales"
Director, Faulkes Telescope Project
I originally studied geophysics at Southampton University (1986-1989) before moving disciplines to astrophysics and gaining a PhD from Southampton in 1993, studying X-ray binary systems (i.e. star systems containing a "normal" star with either a black holes or neutron star companion).
Following postdoctoral research at Southampton, I was appointed Lecturer in Astronomy at Sussex (1994-1999), before becoming the first Head of Education at the National Space Centre, Leicester (1999-2001). I then moved back to Cardiff, where I was jointly Senior Lecturer at Glamorgan (2001-2003) and Walter Hudson Senior Research Fellow at Cardiff University (2001-2005). In addition, I have also been an Honorary Lecturer at the University of Leicester (1999-2004); Honorary Senior Lecturer at the Open University (2006-2009); Educational Programmes Consultant at Techniquest (2002-2006), and Director of Education and Public Outreach at Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope, California (2007-2009).
I have spent over 25 years researching massive stars, neutron stars and black holes, but now mainly specialise in using astronomy and space science to encourage students of all ages to study STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects. In this capacity, I have been the UK National Schools’ Astronomer since 2001, and Director of the Faulkes Telescope Project since 2002. In 2010 I was appointed as the European Space Agency (ESERO-UK) “Space Ambassador for Wales”, acting as link between research, industry, education and the general public.
After returning to the Univ. of Glamorgan in 2009, I established a group working in both astronomical research and education, using robotic, Internet-controlled telescopes, and developed a new BSc Observational Astronomy programme. I was appointed Professor of Astronomy Education at the Univ. of South Wales (the re-named Glamorgan) in 2012, and was President of the Association for Science Education Cymru (2013-2015).
I returned to Cardiff University in 2015, where I am currently Reader in Astrophysics and course co-ordinator for the MSc in Astrophysics programme.
Honours and awards
- University of Sussex inaugural Teaching Excellence Award (1997)
- PPARC National Award for Public Understanding of Science (2000)
- PPARC National Award for Public Understanding of Science (2004)
- STFC Science in Society Personal Fellowship (2006)
- STFC Science in Society Personal Fellowship (2009)
- Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society
- Senior Fellow, Higher Education Academy
- 09/92 09/94 Postdoc Physics & Astronomy, Uni. Southampton
- 10/94 02/99 Lecturer Astronomy Centre, Uni. Sussex
- 02/99 11/00 Head of Education National Space Centre, Leicester
- 02/99 01/04 Honorary Lecturer Physics & Astronomy, Uni. Leicester
- 08/01 09/03 Visiting Research Fellow Applied Sciences, Uni. Glamorgan
- 11/00 11/02 Project Scientist Faulkes Telescope Project
- 11/02 09/03 Senior Lecturer Uni. Glamorgan
- 01/01 12/03 Hudson Senior Research Fellow PHYSX Cardiff Uni.
- 06/01 05/04 Visiting Research Fellow Physics & Astronomy, Open Uni.
- 11/02 03/06 Educational Programmes Consultant Techniquest Science Centre
- 11/02 present Director Faulkes Telescope Project
- 03/05 03/07 Staff Scientist Las Cumbres Observatory
- 02/06 02/09 Visiting Senior Lecturer Open Uni.
- 03/07 07/09 Director of Education and Public Outreach Las Cumbres Observatory
- 11/08 06/14 Principle Lecturer/Subject Leader in Astronomy Uni. of Glamorgan
- 04/10 present ESERO-UK “Space Ambassador” for Wales ESERO-UK
- 06/12 06/15 Professor of Astronomy Education Uni. of South Wales
- 06/15 present Reader/MSc Astrophysics Co-ordinator Cardiff Uni
I currently teach several MSc Astrophysics core modules (PXT 201 "Techniques in astrophysics" and PXT 202 "Study and research skills in astrophysics"), along with the optional fieldtrip module (PXT203 "Advanced observational techniques") and the 1st year autumn term "Planet Earth" module (PX1127). In addition, I supervise several 3rd year project students and MSc summer research dissertation students each year.