While some of us may spend the summer relaxing on beaches or sightseeing in new cities, many of Churchill’s Fellows have been busy using the time off from teaching to pursue their research and take vital fieldwork trips all over the world.
Churchill Fellow and Director of Studies for Physics, Dr Dave Green, visited the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT) in India. Each antenna measures 45m in diameter, with 30 of them in total spread out with a maximum separation of approximately 25km. The dishes are not solid, but are made of wire mesh, and consequently work at longer radio wavelengths only. Currently, the telescope can observe at several wavelengths/frequencies between 2m/150MHz and 21cm/1420MHz. It is run by The National Centre for Radio Astrophysics (NCRA), which is part of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), about 80km north of Pune. Dave has used this telescope for a range of radio astronomy projects over the past ten years.
Dave’s work focuses on radio astronomical research applied to a wide range of topics. His current interests include deep low-frequency radio surveys with the Giant Meterwave Radio Telescope (GMRT) in India, and various studies of Galactic supernova remnants (SNRs), with particular interests in statistical studies, and ‘filled-centre’ remnants.
More photos of the GMRT and information about Dr Green’s research can be found on his website.
Churchill Fellow and Undergraduate Admissions Tutor, Dr Nick Cutler travelled to Washington State to conduct fieldwork as part of a research group studying how volcanic ash (tephra) is transformed into layers in the soil following a volcanic eruption.
Layers of tephra are often used to infer the characteristics of ancient volcanic eruptions. However, the formation of tephra layers has never been observed directly and this process is poorly understood. Nick hopes that by identifying the factors influencing tephra layer formation his research could improve our ability to reconstruct past eruptions.
Building on findings made during research trips to Iceland (2014–15), which found that vegetation played a crucial role in the formation of tephra layers, Nick travelled to Washington State to study the tephra produced during the 1980 eruption of Mount St Helens. By comparing data collected by researchers shortly after the eruption with the now buried tephra layer, Nick hopes his research will reveal more about the transformation of tephra deposits as they are incorporated into the soil.
Nick is s a physical geographer specialising in ecosystem development, with a special interest in high-latitude regions and volcanic landscapes. His research focuses on spatial and temporal variation in terrestrial ecosystems and plant-soil interactions.