Katherine was appointed Gresham Professor of Astronomy in 2019. She is a Professor of Astrophysics at Oxford University and a Research Fellow at St John’s College. Before this she was one of the Royal Society’s University Research Fellows, a Research Fellow of the 1851 Royal Commission, and a Junior Research Fellow at Balliol College, Oxford.
Her research interests include the evolution of active galaxies and their life cycles, the accretion of material near black holes and the launch and propagation of relativistic jets (jets of plasma emitted by some black holes). In her research she uses electromagnetic imaging and spectroscopy, as well as computational techniques.
She is also a renowned science communicator and set up a worldwide network of five schools-based Global Jet Watch observatories, which collect data on evolving black hole systems and nova explosions in our Galaxy, helping to inspire the next generation of scientists in South Africa, Chile, Australia and India.
Her awards include a Philip Leverhulme Prize in Astrophysics, the Royal Society’s Rosalind Franklin Medal in 2010, the Institute of Physics Bragg Medal in 2012, the Royal Astronomical Society’s Darwin Lectureship in 2015 and an OBE for services to astronomy and the education of young people in 2017.
Professor Blundell’s first lecture series for Gresham College was called Cosmic Concepts, starting 2 October 2019, and she looked at how concepts developed in physics and cosmology have led to some of our most surprising discoveries about the Universe.
Professor Blundell’s lecture series are as follows:
2020/21 Cosmic Vision
2019/20 Cosmic Concepts
All lectures by the Gresham Professors of Astronomy can be accessed here.
Highly energetic particles from outer space travelling at the speed of light, known as cosmic rays, originate from the sites of extreme particle acceleration in the Universe.
This lecture considered just how energetic these rapid particles are, the origins of their extreme energies and the implications for Earth.