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The chemical build-up of star-forming galaxies

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  • Full or part time
    Dr Patricia Schady
    Dr Stijn Wuyts
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

The University of Bath invites applications from outstanding candidates for a 3.5-year funded studentship to be based in the Bath Astrophysics Group.

The enrichment of the interstellar medium in galaxies with heavy elements produced by late stages of star formation provides a unique imprint of the principle processes governing galaxy evolution. However, it is well known that different diagnostics to trace a galaxy’s gas-phase chemical composition can produce fundamentally inconsistent results. In this PhD project, the successful applicant will investigate the chemical enrichment, or ‘metallicity’, of star forming galaxies, and the relationship between metallicity and other global and spatially resolved galaxy properties. The prime goal of the PhD will be to (a) study the chemical enrichment of galaxies of different types and in different environments, (b) investigate how lower spatial resolution observations and varying interstellar properties, such as the case in high redshift galaxies, may affect the reliability of derived metallicity maps, and (c) investigate a novel technique to trace the cosmic chemical evolution using the metal absorption imprint left on distant, luminous gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) afterglows.

This project will involve the analysis and interpretation of sensitive, high spatial resolution spectral data taken with the state-of-the-art Multi-Unit Spectroscopic Explorer (MUSE) on the ESO Very Large Telescope (VLT) of a sample of star forming galaxies, as well as VLT/X-shooter and UVES spectral data of high redshift GRB afterglows. The successful candidate will be involved in the preparation of new observing proposals for major telescope facilities with international collaborators, including the future NASA James Webb Space Telescope.

The successful applicant will work with Dr Patricia Schady and Dr Stijn Wuyts and will be embedded in the Bath Astrophysics Group (, whose research interests include galaxy structure and kinematics, star formation and ISM conditions, time-domain and high energy astrophysics as well as cosmology. The student will also have opportunities to collaborate with an international network, including researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics and the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics.

Training -

The successful applicant will join a growing and dynamic astrophysics group and be in frequent contact with other senior and students at weekly group meetings and literature discussions, as well as at Astrophysics seminars given by prestigious external speakers. Through its Doctoral College (, the University of Bath offers a comprehensive programme of postgraduate skills training, strong support for networking with students across disciplines beyond physics, and advice on careers in academia or industry. The successful applicant weekly group meetings and literature discussion as well as the fortnightly astrophysics seminar with prestigious external speakers. Regular student-led astrophysics symposia are held with partner Universities through the ’Bristol-Bath-Exeter-Cardiff astrophysics student symposia’ (BBECss) initiative.

Candidate -

Applicants should hold, or expect to receive, a First Class or high Upper Second Class UK Honours degree (or the equivalent qualification gained outside the UK) in a relevant subject. A master’s level qualification would also be advantageous.

Applications –

Informal enquiries should be directed to Dr Patricia Schady, [Email Address Removed]

Formal applications should be made via the University of Bath’s online application form:

Please ensure that you quote the supervisor’s name and project title in the ‘Your research interests’ section.

More information about applying for a PhD at Bath may be found here:

Anticipated start date: 30 September 2019.

Funding Notes

Candidates may be considered for a University Research Studentship which will cover UK/EU tuition fees, a training support fee of £1,000 per annum and a tax-free maintenance allowance at the UKRI Doctoral Stipend rate (£14,777 in 2018-19) for a period of up to 3.5 years.

Related Subjects

How good is research at University of Bath in Physics?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 23.00

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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