Stephen Wilkins | Astronomer

About

I am a reader (between a senior lecturer and professor) in astronomy in the School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences (MPS) at the University of Sussex. I am also an STFC Public Engagement Fellow, the Director of Outreach and Public Egagement (DOPE) for MPS. In my free time I am also co-founder and current chair of Curiosity Sussex a local science education charity. I am actively involved in research, teaching, administration, and outreach and public engagement activities.

Research

My research predominantly concerns understanding the process of galaxy formation and evolution especially in the early Universe. I use both observations (e.g. from Hubble, Spitzer, and ALMA) and galaxy formation simulations. I currently co-lead the First Light and Reionisation Epoch Simualtions (FLARES) project and am a member of various observational teams, most recently including The COS Legacy Archive Spectroscopic SurveY (CLASSY) and the Cosmic Evolution Early Release Science (CEERS).

Outreach, Public Engagement, and Advocacy

Since beginning my PhD I have been active in various public engagement activities and I am currently an STFC Leadership in Public Engagement Fellow and also Director of Outreach and Public Egagement (DOPE) for the School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences.

Much of my public engagement work has focussed on the upcoming joint NASA, ESA, and Canadian Space Agency Webb Telescope. In 2018 I led an exhibit at the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition and I have given talks (mostly about Webb) to a wide variety of audiences.

I've also spent a lot of time promoting astronomy and space Science to underrepresented groups. Most recently I established the Guide Stars programme to engage members of the Guiding community with astronomy and space science.

Beyond Astronomy I helped found two branches of the British Science Association. Under the aegis of the Lewes branch I established the Lewes STEM Fair, an annual free science fair held in Lewes. In 2019 this event attracted almost 1000 visitors. With the demise of the British Science Association branches in 2019 I helped establish Curiosity Sussex to continue organising events in Sussex. Curiosity Sussex runs Brighton WonderFest which in 2019 attracted >2000 people as well as the Lewes STEM Fair.

Teaching

In addition to supervising a team of PhD students engaged in research I also teach several undergraduate or MSc modules (of parts of modules):