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Prof Jonathan I Davies


Prof Jonathan I Davies Email:Jonathan.Davies ( at )
Telephone:+44 (0)29 208 75255

Research Interests

I am PI, and have overall management responsibility, for the DustPedia project, which started in Nov. 2014. DustPedia, is funded for 3.5 years by the EU FP7 programme with a total grant award of 2.1MEuro. DustPedia is a collaboration with five other high profile European institutions - Ghent University (Belgium), INAF-Osservatorio Astrofisico di Arcetri (Italy), Universite Paris Sud (France), Service de Astrophysique (CEA) (France), National Observatory of Athens (Greece). DustPedia has just undergone its 18 month review and the overall assessment was "Excellent progress (the project has fully achieved its objectives and technical goals for the period or has even exceeded expectations)."

  • I lead two other large international collaborations (Davies PI):
  • The Herschel Virgo Cluster Survey (HeViCS) consortium (started 2009) is derived from a successful applications for 300 hours of observing time using the Herschel Space Telescope. HeViCS consists of about 30 astronomers from across the world. This was a Herschel Open Time Key project, which also eventually led to a successful Herschel Open Time proposal to observe the nearby Fornax cluster. The DustPedia project grew out of the HeViCS consortium. The consortium has so far published just over 20 refereed journal papers.

    The Arecibo Galactic Environments Survey (AGES), is an on going (2000 hours of observing time) project using the worlds largest single dish radio telescope - currently about 10 refereed journal papers.

  • I am in the process of developing two new areas of research:
  • The NIKA2 camera is currently under development as a collaboration between a number of French institutions and the School's astronomical instrumentation group. I am leading a specific project to use the camera to observe nearby galaxies at millimetre wavelengths, which will be combined with existing data at radio wavelengths. The project has been awarded 200 hours of guaranteed telescope time, which is due to start in the the beginning of 2017. These observations will extend the work we are doing as part of DustPedia so that we can study processes in the interstellar medium not previously studied in detail before (spatially resolved maps of the synchrotron and free-free emission and a definitive measure of the cold thermal dust emission).

    I also have a collaboration with members of the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) in Perth Australia. ICRAR has very close links to the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), part of which is being built in Western Australia. The science addresses the same issues as discussed in this proposal. The Australian research group are working on deep large area CCD surveys mainly to study faint distant galaxies (KIDS, VIKING), but within their data must also reside the nearby dwarf galaxy population - if it exists. They will be providing expertise on the data used in this project. ICRAR staff were interested enough in this project to give financial support for me to visit them for discussions in September 2014.

    Related to the above is our on-going work to see if we can detect extreme LSB galaxies at 21cm wavelengths rather than in the optical i.e. detect atomic gas rather than stars. This work has just been supported as part of the AGES project and we have been given time to carry out a deep 21cm survey of the Local Void. We have also carried out VLA observations to better define the source of 21cm emission in previous single dish surveys. We have just been given time (William Herschel Telescope, La Palma) to carry out deep CCD imaging of 21cm detections with no obvious optical counterparts. This is an exciting project and of course very much related to the search for LSB objects in the Universe.

    Something that started off as a recreational interest has now become a source of engagement with a wider audience both in and outside of the University. After finding a number of references to 'Philosophers and Astronomers' in Caerleon (the site of a legionary fort in South Wales), at the time of the Roman withdrawal from Britain, I was drawn into an investigation that took me in a number of different and interesting directions, including to a previously un-translated medieval manuscript in a Cambridge University library. The result is that I am now collaborating with Dr. Peter Guest of the School of History, Archaeology and Religion. Peter is an expert on Roman Britain and particularly the nearby Roman sites of Caerleon and Caerwent. The current status of this collaboration is:

    Peter Guest and myself have given seminars on this topic in both the School of Physics and Astronomy and the School of History, Archaeology and Religion. We have written and submitted a proposal for a television program about the significance of Caerleon in early medieval history. We are investigating the orientation of buildings (amphitheaters) and other evidence for a Roman astronomical connection. We have obtained high quality satellite imagery to try and identify archaeological features.

    Measures of Esteem

    I have organised three big international conferences here in Cardiff in each case chairing the scientific organising committee. 'The Opacity of Spiral Discs', 1994, 'The Low Surface Brightness Universe', 1998, 'Dark Galaxies and Lost Baryons', 2007. I have been involved over many years with time allocation to telescopes and at one time chaired the time allocation committee of the Issac Newton Group. I was chair of the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (PPARC) wide field astronomy panel and have chaired a number of rolling grant review panels. I was on the PPARC panel that advised on the allocation of £25M of government e-science money. I regularly referee papers for scientific journals and applications for research grants and fellowships.

    I am principle investigator of the 2.1 million euro EU funded project DustPedia.

    I am currently external examiner for Physics at both Bristol and Warwick Universities.


    None - research only

    Admin Duties

    None - research only


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    I left school at the age of 16 and did an apprenticeship as a motor mechanic which has helped me enormously in all sorts of practical jobs that otherwise I would not have had the courage to tackle. After various other jobs I graduated in Physics from Bristol University in 1986. In the same year I obtained an Open University degree and started a PhD here in Cardiff. I have been here ever since starting off doing postgraduate research and then lecturing. I am now a Professor in the school with a special interest in extra-galactic astronomy.

    Postgraduate Students

    I currently supervise two PhD students (O. Keenan, R. Evans).