Prof Benjamin Stappers - personal details
Role: Professor of Astrophysics
I am a Professor of Astrophysics in the Jodrell Bank Center for Astrophysics which is in the school of Physics and Astronomy. My primary research interests are radio pulsars, neutron stars and rapid radio transients. I am a member of the European Pulsar Timing Array (EPTA) and international Pulsar Tming Array (IPTA) projects which are attempting to use precision timing of radio pulsars to detect gravitational waves which have a freqeuncy in the nano-Hz regime. These waves are thought to have been generated by processes in the early universe, either inflation, cosmic strings or binary supermassive blackholes have been proposed.
I am also co-PI of the transients key science project of LOFAR and the head of the pulsar science working group for the same telescope. LOFAR is the LOw Frequency ARray which is a very large radio telescope working at frequencies between 10 and 240 MHz. It is the most sensitive telescope ever built at these frequencies and is the first of the next generation of radio telescopes which uses large numbers of small elements. I am also co-PI of the pulsars and fast transient project TRAPUM which will run on the Square Kilometer Array (SKA) radio telescope pathfinder called MeerKAT. As well as using these next generation telescopes I am also involved in the specification of various aspects of the SKA itself which will be the world's larges telescope. We are currently undertaking the design work for the pulsar and fast transient search capabilities of the SKA.
I am a New Zealander and did my undergraduate studies in Physics at the University of Canterbury. I then went on to do a Phd in Astronomy at the Australian National University in Canberra. I completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Amsterdam in the Netheralnds and then got a permenant position as a Senior Scientist at ASTRON in the Netherlands. I joined the University of Manchester in September.
As well as being interested in the science of radio astronomy and pulsars in particular I am interested in the hardware and software associated with their study. I have been involved in building and commissioing two pulsar machines for the Westerbork Synthesis Radio Telescope in the Netherlands and have written a full software suite for analysing pulsar data.