Main research interests

  • Cometary science
  • Interaction of unmagnetized small bodies with the solar wind
  • Exoplanets (MSci research project: Detection of exoplanetary transits at University of London Observatory)

Career and positions held

2010 - present

Ph.D. Student in Planetary Science

UCL Mullard Space Science Laboratory

The Planetary student office at MSSL
Sep. 2012 - Nov. 2013

Student Support Astronomer

Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes

Observing with the Vixen 20-cm telescope
Image credit: ING (Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes)

Ph.D. supervisor

Geraint H. Jones (Primary Supervisor)
Andrew J. Coates (Secondary Supervisor)


  • Astronomer’s Telegram #4462: Discovery of two probable novae in M81
  • Astronomer's Telegram, #5489: Discovery of Five Probable Novae in M81
  • IAUC 9261, Nov. 2013: Imaging of comet ISON, using 2.0m Liverpool telescope.
  • MPC 85173: Asteroids recovery
  • A&G (2014) 55 (1): 1.32-1.35 doi:10.1093/astrogeo/atu038 (A copy can be found here: A&G publication 2014)
Comet C/2012 S1 (ISON). Stacked 3 x 30s. W. Gater (Photographer) and Y. Ramanjooloo (ING Vixen Telescope)
Comet C/2013 R1 (Lovejoy) taken with the Isaac Newton Telescope's (INT) Wide-Field Camera (WFC).
Date: 02 Jan 2014 Time: 0640 UT - 0700UT.
Image stacked, B: 5 x 60s
First attempt at astrophotography. Andromeda galaxy taken with INT WFC.
Date: 06 Jan 2014 Time: 2130 UT - 2200 UT
Filters: B V R stacked
Image credit: Jamie Jasinski. Presentation at the 6th Alfven conference in the Gustave-Tuck theatre.
Bonus fact: This is the same lecture theatre where Michael Caine was sat in Inception.


  • Engaged 60 primary school students at the Westminster Under school in a 'Rocket building' workshop and presented an overview of the solar system.
  • Presented the composition of comets and performed a dry ice recreation of comets multiple times throughout the day at the Intech Solar science summer fair
  • Interacted with members of the public at the MSSL Open Day and demonstrating how to make comets out of household items and dry ice.
  • Volunteer at the Royal Society's Catch a comet summer exhibit, engaging with the public and discussing the technological feats and scientific output of the European Space Agency's Rosetta mission
  • Volunteer for the first MSSL work experience workshop for 16-18 year olds on the STEM career path. The students were tasked with a week-long project of designing a potential space mission with clear scientific objectives.
  • Presented my research and the solar system at multiple outreach events for the Cranleigh scouts club
  • Involved in new Careers academy mentoring scheme with Grenshaw school
At the Royal Society Summer Exhibition: Catch a comet.
Talking to the public about how comets are formed and the amazing Rosetta space mission
Demonstrating how to make a comet with dry ice at the Intech Science Centre for their Solar Science summer fair.

Conferences & workshops attended

  • Europlanet Science communication in the media, Paris, 2010
  • European Planetary Science Congress, Rome, Italy, 2010
  • RAS Specialist Discussion meeting "Structure and physical processes in solar system magnetotails: planets, moons and comets", London, UK, 2010
  • Autumn Magnetospheres Ionospheres Solar-Terrestrial (MIST) meeting, London, UK, 2010
  • Autumn Magnetospheres Ionospheres Solar-Terrestrial (MIST) meeting, London, UK, 2011
  • American Geophysical Union Fall meeting, San Francisco, CA, USA, 2011
  • Posters at AGU Fall meeting, San Francisco, CA, USA, 2010 and EPSC-DPS, Nantes, France, 2011
  • HelioCorona, Bad Honnef, Germany, 2012
  • Europlanet Rosetta 2 day workshop 2012
  • UK/Germany National Astronomy Meeting, Manchester, 2012. Awarded Risbeth prize winner 2012 for best presentation. A Sky at Night web article also featured our technique after this presentation.
  • Asteroids, Comets, Meteors 2012, Niigata, Japan, 2012
  • RAS Specialist Discussion meeting, Comets’ interactions with other solar system bodies, London, UK, 2013
  • Python and MySQL 2 day workshop, UCL 2013
  • European Planetary Science Congress, London, UK, 2013
  • Asteroids, Comets, Meteors 2014, Helsinki, Finland, 2014
  • 6th Alfven conference, London 2014 and member of Local Organising Committee
ACM 2014 Group photo in Helsinki, Finland

Research Topic: The structure of the inner heliosphere as revealed by comets

During my Ph.D., I developed an innovative technique to analyse the interaction between the solar wind and comets and their tails. My core aim was to characterise the speed and nature of the solar wind in an extremely cost-effective way, by identifying features in images of a comet’s ion tail and understanding these features’ associations with the solar wind. To date, our measurements of the solar wind in the inner heliosphere have been limited to spacecraft orbits. I have developed the software to derive several estimates of the local solar wind radial velocity from each image of a comet, whether sourced from amateur astrophotographers or professionally funded spacecraft. This project will serve to test the reliability of comets as a diagnostic tool to monitor changes in the heliosphere during the solar activity cycle, and the occurrence of interplanetary transient disturbances such as coronal mass ejecta.

Image credit: LASCO C3 coronagraph aboard SOHO spacecraft. This is a composite image of extracts from multiple frames, showing the tail evolution of comet C/2011 W3 (Lovejoy) pre-perihelion and post-perihelion

Research Topic: Discovering Asteroids

Using a combination of astronomical software, such as THELI and Astrometrica, I have analysed Wide-Field camera (WFC) images taken during my studentship at the INT for new undiscovered asteroids. THELI is used within the data reduction pipeline and Astrometica to stack and blink the reduced images.

Detection of exoplanetary transits

In my final year at UCL, I undertook a Masters research project on "The detection of extrasolar planets using the transit method". My duties included preparing a target list of opportunity from the Super-WASP North list of potential candidates. The weather and light pollution being somewhat less than nominal in London, observing nights were few and often far in between. However, I still managed to obtain 12 nights worth of transit data from multiple targets. All in all, fairly frequent use of a Celestron 14-inch telescope, learning about professional astrophotography, CCDs and data reduction made up for the regular bad weather and kept me entertained through those long nights when the weather wouldn't yield.

ULO 3rd mini research projects

  • During my third year at UCL, we attended the University of London Observatory (ULO) on a regular basis. Aside from being fun and obtaining the chance to observe, most of our time was spent on mini research projects, such as "Determining the mass of 51 Pegasi b, the first extrasolar planet discovered around a main sequence star". We used the variations in radial velocity of 51 Pegasi, measured with the ELODIE echelle spectrograph (Observatoire de Haute-Provence), to infer the mass of the exoplanet.
  • "Calculating the orbital parameters of a comet" was another project I completed whilst at the observatory. This involved using Carl Friedrich Gauss's technique to recover a comet by using only 3 different observations of the comet spanning a short period of days. Gauss developed this technique to recover the asteroid Ceres.


Me at a dance show

Born and raised in Mauritius, I emigrated to the UK in 2000 with the family and experienced a whole new world, as cliche as it sounds. The initial culture shock soon faded when met with the seemingly endless opportunities and activites available in London. I attended UCL for an undergraduate Masters (MSci) course in Astronomy and Physics. This eventually lead to my current status as a Ph.D. student as well as a stint as a student support astronomer at the Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes in the sub-tropical island paradise of La Palma.

Non-academic work

June 2009 - December 2009

Product Executive

Experian QAS, Clapham Common, UK

  • Junior Product management role
  • Responsible for the entire lifecycle of several software packages
  • Global go-to product expert (Product champion) for multiple products
  • Attended training courses such as: Negotiation training, teamwork training, management training, Prince 2 project management training
August 2008 - June 2009

Product Support Analyst

  • Technical approvals of complex quotes and orders. Tasked with ensuring technical compatibility of software and data with the customers’ (SMB and B2B) operating systems prior to purchase
  • Tech Support Liaison - Streamlining business processes between Tech Support team and my team
  • Internal (international) Helpdesk - Fielding queries about every software and data Experian QAS offers
  • In charge of the company’s online Data storage system in terms of improving the functionality of the database and keeping it up to date with accurate legal, financial and technical information

I have also worked as a part-time bartender in a nightclub and a bar during my undergraduate degree.

Image credit: Unknown. Reflex bar staff team


Dancing is my favourite past-time. I first discovered the joys of dancing at 17. Since then, I have gone on to perform in 5 dance shows with the Hindu society (Rangeela 2004 and 2005) and the UCL dance society (Pulse 2006, Inferno 2007 and Dynamix 2010) at the Bloomsbury Theatre. My other interests include travelling to exotic locations to hike, learning about new cultures from the locals, studying new languages, namely by immersing oneself in a country and reading and watching science-fiction. Since attending MSSL, I have participated in the annual croquet tournaments as part of the Planetary A-Team. This year, I am captaining my own team, the "Lethal Pandas". If we reach the tournament final, my team and I will be playing in full Panda outfits.

UCL dance show at the Bloomsbury Theatre
UCL dance show at the Bloomsbury Theatre
Marco y Cordero hike in La Palma.
A much needed rest after a continuous uphill hike to Hoyo verde in la caldera, La Palma.

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