I am a PhD student in the Astronomy and Astrophysics group at the University of Warwick working with Pier-Emmanuel Tremblay. My research focuses on the identification and characterisation of white dwarfs within the Gaia survey. I completed my MSci undergraduate degree, Physics with Astrophysics, at Queen's University Belfast in 2018.
ESA’s Gaia satellite released its second astrometric catalogue in 2018, providing distances and velocities for over a billion stars. Using Gaia DR2 to select a sample of local white dwarfs, I intend to use this to derive the stellar formation history of the solar neighbourhood. With this catalogue, and extending it beyond the local area, it will also be possible to find more exotic white dwarfs which can provide insight into other areas of astrophysics.
During my time at Warwick, I have undertaken astronomical observations using the William Herschel Telescope and the Isaac Newton Telescope at the Observatorio del Roque de Los Muchachos on the island of La Palma in the Canary Islands.
Other research interests
I am also interested in exoplanets, including white dwarf planetary systems. My master's research was aimed at fitting a time-series dataset, obtained with FORS2, to retrieve a transmission spectrum of WASP-96b and search for atomic absorption features in its atmosphere. Carrying on from this, I hope to also research evolved planetary systems during my PhD.
"An absolute sodium abundance for a cloud-free 'hot Saturn' exoplanet" -- Nature (2018) -- Nikolov, N., Sing, D., Fortney, J., Goyal, J., Drummond, B., Evans, T., Gibson, N., De Mooij, E., Rustamkulov, Z., Wakeford, H., Smalley, B., Burgasser, A., Hellier, C., Helling, C., Mayne, N., Madhusudhan, N., Kataria, T., Baines, J., Carter, A., Ballester, G., Barstow, J., McCleery, J. and Spake, J.
Teaching and Outreach
I currently mark the 2nd year undergraduate AS2: Astronimcal Spectroscopy lab books, for the PX271 Physics Skills module. The primary role of this work involves marking the students lab books to determine how well they have conducted the experiment, recorded their results, how well they have understood the underlying physics, and whether they have properly considered and propagated errors. I also need to liaise with the lab demonstrator and the staff in charge of the expriment to finalise my results. After this I meet with the students individually to give them personalised feedback on where they have lost their marks and what they can improve upon in future.
Previously I took first-year undergraduate assignment classes; this involved marking a set of assignments each week and leading a class with those students in which we went through their worksheet. The purpose of these classes, at least from my point of view, was to make sure the students understood the physics in the worksheets rather than just getting good marks. The topics covered include a wide range of areas to provide general foundational knowledge for first-year physics students. (e.g. classical mechanic/special relativity/E&M/quantum phenomena). I have also helped with marking first year exam scripts for the PX145 Physics Fondations Module.
I am also passionate about physics outreach; I regularly volunteer for events at the university and local schools with the Warwick Planetarium, as well as departmental open days at the University. I am always keen to give talks, or simply answer some questions, feel free to contact me!