I am a scientist, I do not work alone. (Switzerland!)

The Seyfert 1 galaxy NGC 5548. Image taken by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey.

The Seyfert 1 galaxy NGC 5548. Image taken by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey.

When I started my PhD I became part of a consortium, a group of researchers at different institutions who work together on specific projects. This consortium is led by Dr. Jelle Kaastra, a Senior Scientist at SRON (the Netherlands Institute for Space Research) and has members not only in the Netherlands but also in France, Israel, the USA and of course the UK (all at MSSL – my supervisor, her previous PhD student, and now me).

Working with other researchers from different institutions, and different countries, causes a lot of regular interaction to be through email. I’m sure everyone reading this will be aware how much faster some conversations can be if they are face-to-face instead! Therefore this consortium arranges meetings to help the process of working together. The next one is in Switzerland on 8th-13th Dec, at a place called the International Space Science Institute in Bern, and I’m going! Not only am I going, but I have a 20 minute slot to ‘present my preliminary results’ to the rest of the consortium (having started this PhD only two months ago I’m both excited and nervous about that part!).

The International Space Science Institute's logo

The International Space Science Institute’s logo

Before I joined, this group had already worked together on a previous project – they observed the Seyfert 1 galaxy Mrk 509 (imaginative name…) through a series of spectroscopic observations from five space-based and two ground telescopes, in many different wavelength ranges and over a period of about 100 days. This multiwavelength study led to a series of papers (the first one can be accessed here) analysing the data for information on outflowing material, the variability of emission by the central AGN and many other aspects.

Bern from above with at the Aare river

Bern from above with the Aare river

Following the success of this Mrk 509 campaign, the consortium was awarded time on various telescopes to observe another object, again a Seyfert 1 galaxy but this time called NGC 5548. This is where I come in. These observations of NGC 5548 were taken over the summer of 2013 and I have joined the consortium just as the analysis has begun. I have ‘my own’ area to work on within this, which is the data collected from the Reflection Grating Spectrometer (RGS) on the X-ray space telescopeĀ XXM-Newton.

This RGS data is what I’ll be talking about at ISSI. As this will be the first academic presentation I’ve done for two years I have arranged two ‘practice presentation’ sessions in the next week. The first one is on Friday, to my supervisor and her previous PhD student. The second one will be to the other PhD students here at MSSL and I believe that’s on Wednesday next week.

Right now I am not feeling overly worried or nervous about this presentation, but that varies hugely depending on my progress each half day or so. I hope to keep myself on the ‘Excited!’ side of ‘Panic!’, rather than ‘Overwhelmed’:

From PHDComics.com (no. 1650). Copyright: Jorge Cham

From PHDComics.com (no. 1650). Copyright: Jorge Cham

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3 thoughts on “I am a scientist, I do not work alone. (Switzerland!)

  1. […] First presentation on my research area (at ISSI) […]

  2. […] have written before about my involvement in a consortium; this group of over 30 astronomers has been working together […]

  3. […] December, only two and a half months after I started my PhD, I wrote about a trip I was about to take to the International Space Science Institute (ISSI) in Bern, […]

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