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Professor Paul Roche

Professor Paul Roche

Chair of Astronomy Education
Director of Postgraduate Taught Studies

School of Physics and Astronomy

Email
paul.roche@astro.cf.ac.uk
Telephone
+44 (0)29 2068 7197
Campuses
McKenzie House 4.15, McKenzie House, 30-36 Newport Road, Cardiff, CF24 0DE

Overview

Biography

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 was the UK National Schools’ Astronomer from 2001-2011, and Director of the Faulkes Telescope Project from 2002-2022. 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 (until end of 2021).

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 Chair of Astronomy Education, Director of Postgraduate Taught Studies and course co-ordinator for the astrophysics-related MSc programme.

Outside of academia, I am a PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor, and was director of a diver training company (ScubaQuest, until Sept. 2022).

Honours and awards

  • University of Sussex 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)
  • Chair of Astronomy Education (Uni of South Wales)(2012)
  • Chair of Astronomy Education (Cardiff Uni)(2020)
  • PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor (2021)
  • IAU National Outreach Co-ordinator (2022)

Professional memberships

  • Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society
  • Senior Fellow, Higher Education Academy

Academic positions

  • 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  09/20             Reader/MSc Astrophysics Co-ordinator Cardiff Uni
  • 10/20  present          Chair of Astronomy Education

Publications

2022

2021

2019

2003

2002

2001

Teaching

I currently teach several MSc Astrophysics core modules:

  • PXT991 Advanced Techniques in Physics and Astrophysics (Deputy Module Organiser)
  • PXT992 Advanced Study and Research Skills (Module Organiser)
  • PXT999 Research Project (Deputy Module Organiser)

and the 1st year autumn term module:

  • PX1127 Planet Earth (Module Organiser)

In addition, I usually supervise several 3rd and 4th year undergraduate project students and MSc summer research dissertation students each year.

I am mainly interested in how we use astronomy and space science to encourage school students to study STEM subjects, so I am actively engaged in leading a number of national projects in these areas (e.g.Comet Chasers, Mission2Mars, Down2Earth) as well as working with the Cardiff Children's University to help develop closer links with local schools and the university.

Supervision

Current PhD student supervision:

  • Cai Stoddard-Jones (Cardiff University, f/time, comets and schools education)

2nd supervisor:

  • Helen Usher (Open University, p/time, comets and outreach)
  • Debbie Syrop (Cardiff University, School of Engineering, f/time, engineering outreach and education)

Past projects

Previous PhD students:

Cardiff:

  • Sophie Bartlett (astronomy education)
  • Vanessa Stroud (massive binary stars)
  • Fraser Lewis (low mass X-ray binaries)

Sussex:

  • Hanna Quaintrell
  • Luisa Morales

Open University: (1st supervisor Prof. Amdrew Norton)

  • Tim Ash (high mass X-ray binaries)
  • Diana Norton (high mass X-ray binaries)