About the author

A product originally of the eastern London suburb of Upminster, at age five my dad's colourfully-expressed lack of patience for traffic lead to a move to Melton Mowbray, a town in the Midlands inspirationally famous for pork pies and Stilton cheese - the zenith of international cuisine by anyone's yardstick. Despite the lure of pork products, following A-levels at the King Edward VII Upper School I left for Newcastle University situated in the balmy northern city of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. An arduous course in beer drinking was accompanied by a coincidental degree in Astronomy and Astrophysics. This was the time of the Young Ones television series and their house bore a striking resemblance to our domicile at 60 Normanton Terrace, known among the rodent population as a charitable, if somewhat drafty and barely-heated, shelter. 

It was, then, with some reluctance that I decided to shirk such luxury to study for a D.Phil in astrophysics at Brasenose College, Oxford University. My thesis, High Resolution Stellar Spectroscopy, aimed at understanding very high resolution optical spectra of stars like the Sun to probe the details of spectral line formation, and infer atmospheric parameters and elemental abundances. I subsequently managed to secure a NATO postdoctoral fellowship and chose to study at the University of Texas at Austin, where I had visited during the D.Phil to obtain spectra at the McDonald Observatory in west Texas. In a second postdoc at the University of California, Berkeley, I moved higher up in the stellar atmosphere to study stellar coronae using what was to be the newly-launched NASA Extreme Ultraviolet Explorer (EUVE) satellite. Colleagues have pointed out that it was grossly unfair that I passed through to the corona without having to stop at the much more complicated chromosphere for a while. 

EUVE obtained the first "high resolution" coronal spectra of stars - resolving powers of 100 or so at wavelengths between 70 and 750 Angstroms, sufficient to isolate prominent spectral lines and perform plasma diagnostics. This provided a natural platform to move to higher energies, and at the end of 1995 I moved to the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics to work on the Advanced X-ray Astrophysics Facility (AXAF, later to be re-named the Chandra X-ray Observatory).  

I live in Arlington, Massachusetts, with my wife and three children.