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Research interests

Biography and research interests

Carole is Professor of Extragalactic Astronomy and Head of Astrophysics. She served as Head of the Department of Physics from 2016 to 2018, when she was appointed as the first woman Chief Scientific Adviser at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. In 2020, Carole was appointed as the first Chief International Science Envoy in the new Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office. In 2021, Carole was named the Hiroko Sherwin Chair in Extragalactic Astronomy in recognition of her outstanding contribution to her international field of research, her contribution to the Univesity and her role in championing diversity and women in STEM.

Carole is currently President of the Science Council; elected to this position in 2021, she is the first woman to hold the role.

An observational astrophysicist, Carole began her research career as a radio astronomer at Jodrell Bank Observatory. She then diversified to exploit international ground- and space-based facilities across the electromagnetic spectrum with the goal of understanding cosmic black holes and their environments.

Following time at the University of Maryland, Carole brought a Royal Society University Research Fellowship to Liverpool John Moores University to study the Dynamical Evolution of Galaxies. There, she subseuently built and led an international team specializing in catching the fast-fading light from gamma ray bursts - the most powerful explosions in the Universe. She was awarded an RCUK Academic Fellowship in recognition of her pioneering work in GRBs and leadership of the Liverpool GRB team. Her team won the Times Higher Research Project of the Year Award, 2007.

She was appointed Professor in 2007 and was awarded a Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award (2011-2016) for the study of 'Black hole-driven explosions and the dynamic Universe'. She was appointed Professor at the University of Bath in 2015, where she founded the Bath Astrophysics Group and was named FDM Everywoman in Technology Woman of the Year 2016.

Carole has been involved in national and European research funding allocation and oversight of national and international astronomical facilities.

Her experience in strategic science policy advisory work has included technology, basic research and horizon scanning beyond astrophysics and she serves on prestigious science boards, including the International Advisory Board of the Royal Society Journal of Science, Society and Policy. 

She is a prominent and committed communicator of science to the public and a vocal advocate for diversity in science.

Past memberships include

  • Member, Science and Technology Facilties Council (STFC)
  • Chair, STFC Skills and Engagement Advisory Board
  • Member, Research Councils UK Public Engagement with Research Advisory Panel
  • Member, European Research Council Fellowships Panel PE9 

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Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

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