Personal profile

Research overview

My research is focussed on galaxy formation and evolution. In particular I am interested in the role of galaxy mergers and starbursts in building "red and dead" elliptical galaxies, using absorption line systems to unveil the link between galaxies and their gaseous halos, and the impact of  on galaxy evolution.

My work combines observational data from several international galaxy surveys with a large suites of simulations, to study both the spectral and morphological evolution of galaxies following a starburst or merger phase. We aim to understand the physical processes responsible for changing galaxies from the irregular balls of gas observed at high redshift, into the bimodal population of star-forming spirals and quiescent ellipticals seen around us today.

For more information, including research data and code for download, see my personal webpages: http://www-star.st-and.ac.uk/~vw8/index.html 

Teaching activity

I co-ordinate and teach the 3rd/4th year Extragalactic Astronomy course which I developed specially for St Andrews undergraduate students in astrophysics. The objectives of this module are to help students: (1) to learn about the observations that enable us to understand galaxy evolution and observational cosmology, (2) to learn to apply a range of physical principles learnt outside this lecture course to the understanding of galaxies, and (3) to be able to apply the material learnt in the lectures to current research activities in extragalactic astrophysics. The course includes "guest seminars" from PhD students and post-docs doing cutting edge research in the field, with constructive feedback provided by the students to guide their learning, and help the guest speakers improve their lecturing style. Assessment includes an exploration of the SDSS galaxy survey database using python programming and SQL. 

 

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