PhD students


Lucie’s current and previous PhD students (where she is either primary or secondary supervisor) are listed below. If you are interested in doing a PhD in solar physics, the application process and research projects are described here.

Osnat Katz Primary supervisor: Prof. Jon Agar (UCL Department of Science and Technology studies), additional secondary supervisor Doug Millard (Science Museum Group)

Osnat joined UCL in 2019 to work on a research project that takes a new look at the history of UK space science. During her PhD Osnat will link and deepen our understanding of two major collections of the material culture of space science, specifically objects in the collections of the Science Museum Group and those here at the Mullard Space Science Laboratory. Capturing the fast-disappearing oral history of British space science is also a key aim. By linking the personal to the material, Osnat will explore the social and cultural history of an extraordinary episode of technological reach and scientific exploration in which UCL played a major role.

Jennifer O’Kane Secondary supervisor: Dr. David Long

Jennifer joined the group in 2017 having developed an interest in the science behind space weather. Her research project focuses on the challenging topic of so-called stealth coronal mass ejections. These ejections produce very faint signatures in the lower solar atmosphere, where they originate, and require advanced data processing to reveal information about their occurrence. Many open questions remain about the magnetic field configuration of these eruptions, how they form and why they erupt.

Alex James Secondary supervisors: Dr. Gherardo Valori, Prof. Lidia van Driel Gesztelyi

Alex joined the group in 2015 to work on a Leverhulme Trust funded project that set out to investigate the type of solar activity that creates the most severe space weather – coronal mass ejections. In his work, Alex combined analyses of observations from the most advanced instruments available (mainly the AIA and HMI instruments on NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory) and spectroscopic data from the Hinode mission with non-linear force-free field extrapolations of photospheric vector magnetograms that enables the magnetic field of the source regions of solar eruptions to be modelled. Alex found evidence for the presence of a flux rope relatively high in the solar atmosphere that was recovered by the NLFFF modelling. This allowed a link to be made between observations of the flux rope formation process with the theory of flux rope stability and revealed a new trigger mechanism for eruptions in that particular photospheric flows can drive reconnection in the solar corona that forms and destabilises the flux rope. Alex is now a European Space Agency Research Fellow at the European Space Astronomy Centre in Madrid.

Stephanie Yardley Secondary supervisors: Dr. David Williams and Prof. Lidia van Driel-Gesztelyi

Stephanie joined the group in 2013 and completed her thesis in 2016. She investigated the magnetic field in the solar atmosphere. In particular testing the hypothesis that magnetic field configurations in the Sun’s atmosphere that support dense plasma, known as filaments and which erupt to form coronal mass ejections, are twisted and current carrying. Using various remote sensing instruments onboard solar spacecraft, Stephanie furthered our understanding of how these twisted magnetic fields form. Stephanie now holds a post-doctoral research assistant post at the University of St. Andrews where she is continuing her work.

Alison Hartshorn (née Wallace) Primary supervisor: Dr. Sarah Matthews

Alison was awarded her PhD in 2012 for her thesis on ‘Flux Emergence and its Consequences in the Solar Atmosphere’. She was the first student in her year to complete and her research resulted in four refereed publications in major journals. Whilst at MSSL, Alison was also involved in organising scientific meetings was a keen communicator of her science. She went on to be Head of UK Student Recruitment at Queen Mary University of London.