About Me

I'm Mike Jones, a post-doctoral researcher at the Instituto de AstrofĂ­sica de AndalucĂ­a working with Lourdes Verdes-Montenegro on the AMIGA project. I graduated with my PhD in Astronomy from Cornell University in 2016 after 5 years working with Martha Haynes and Riccardo Giovanelli on the ALFALFA survey. I gained my undergraduate degree in Natural Sciences (Astrophysics) from the University of Cambridge in 2011. My research is in extragalactic astronomy, focusing on neutral hydrogen and the statistics of galaxy surveys in the local Universe. I'm very active and regularly play football (soccer), cycle, hike and rock climb. I am also fond of photography.


PhD Research: I worked with Professors Martha Haynes and Riccardo Giovanelli on the ALFALFA survey, a blind HI 21 cm survey out to a maximum redshift of 0.06 and covering 7,000 square degrees of the sky. ALFALFA represents the cutting edge of large area, blind HI surveys. It uses the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico, the largest single dish telescope in the world at the time, and a 7 pixel feed array (ALFA). When data reduction is complete we expect to have detections of around 30,000 extragalactic HI sources. The currently available 70% data release can be found here.

An SDSS DR10 optical image (left) of two HI galaxies detected in ALFALFA. The Elliptical galaxy is not detected. The ALFA beam is shown as a dark circle. The HI spectra of the two galaxies taken by ALFALFA (right). The excess emission present in the offset spectrum, associated with the profile of the lower galaxy, is a telltale sign of confusion.

My research focused on the global properties of the survey, investigating the statistical trends and biases present in the dataset. My three papers from my PhD analysed the environmental dependence of the HI mass function across the survey and used the zero redshift ALFALFA sample to make predictions about the impact of HI source confusion on upcoming deep surveys and stacking experiments with SKA-precursor facilities. Please see the papers listed in my CV for more details.

Masters Research: I completed my masters research project under the supervision of Professor Jim Pringle, at the Institute of Astronomy in Cambridge. For this project I wrote C code to simulate axisymmetric, thin discs around proto-stars. Though simplistic, these simulations explored the effects of dead zones, outbursts, photoevaporation, and planet-disc interactions on the nominal disc age (disc mass / accretion rate). After reviewing the available observational datasets, we found that (within substatial scatter) the observed disc age is roughly consistent with the stellar ages of such systems. However, the simulations were unable to reproduce the observed distribution of disc age, and were consistently above the observed value regardless of what disc model was used. In Jones et al. 2012 we point out that a systematic underestimation of the observed disc masses would release this tension, and such a systematic error is a reasonable suggestion, given the large uncertainty in the dust-to-gas ratio in proto-planetary discs.

Curriculum Vitae

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Outreach & Teaching

Teaching: I was a teaching assistant for Cornell's Astro1101 and Astro1102 courses for two years. I led two weekly sections, typically with around 20-30 students, as well as performing a guest lecture to the full class (around 200 students). I have written and graded both homeworks and exams for these courses. Additionally, another graduate student (Michael Lam) and I took on a volunteer project to bring the lab component of these courses up to date. I have also given guest lectures for Cornell's first-year writing seminars in astronomy.

Undergraduate Workshops: I've co-written and led workshops as part of Cornell Astronomy's REU program: A Brief Introduction to Python, and Exploring Early Galaxies with the CCAT (an introduction to blind galaxy surveys). I have also demonstrated observing, lectured and mentored students at the Undergraduate ALFALFA Team workshop at Arecibo, and undergraduate researchers in the ALFALFA team at Cornell.

Outreach: I have been both the treasurer and vice president of the Cornell astronomy graduate student society, and I have been involved in a number of outreach events/programs, including: Focus for Teens, Museum in the Dark, Ask an Astronomer, Ask an Astronomer - Podcast, and Ask an Astronomer - Reddit AMA.

Ask an Astronomer: Cornell astronomy department's public service for anyone curious about astronomy, planetary science, astrophysics or cosmology. So if you have any burning questions please visit our website.

Physics at Exeter guest lecture: I appeared as a guest on the University of Exeter "Physics at Exeter" YouTube channel.


Sunset at Cornell

Andromeda (with only a tripod)

Long Exposure of a Stream

Scale Force (Lake District)

Sunset (Norfolk, UK)

Fall colours at Cayuga Lake (NY, USA)

Ithaca Falls (NY, USA)

Watkins Glen (NY, USA)

Crummock Water (Lake District)

Old Warped Tree

Sunrise (Norfolk, UK)

Rocks in West Canada Creek (NY, USA)

Startrails through the Trees

Webs and Morning Mist

Taughannock Falls (NY, USA)

Sunset (Hunstaton, UK)

Sunset (Hunstaton, UK)

Reflections (Adirondacks, NY, USA)

Panorama from the summit of Mount Iroquois (Adirondacks, NY, USA)