Portrait of Dr James Urquhart

Dr James Urquhart

Senior Lecturer and Head of Astrophysics and Planetary Science Group

Research interests

My primary research interest is in the area of massive star formation; this is an area that underpins many fields in astrophysics and provides an opportunity to link star formation with the large-scale structure of the Milky Way and obtain a better understanding of star formation in the nearby Universe.

Other areas of interest include: investigating the modes and efficiency of triggered star formation mechanisms; the evolution of the earliest stages of the most massive stars and their Galactic distribution; Galactic structure and the influence of the spiral arms in the star formation process; using rotational transitions of simple molecules to probe the structure of the interstellar medium; and star formation in extreme environments (high pressures and densities, strong UV radiation and cosmic ray fields) such as those found in the Galactic centre and more distant starburst galaxies.

Past Research Experience/Projects
2015- present: Lecturer in Physics and Astrophysics at the University of Kent, Canterbury

2011 – 2015: SFB Postdoctoral Fellow, Max-Planck-Institute for Radio Astronomy

Primary responsibility is the exploitation of the ATLASGAL survey and to take a leading role in planning and executing the programme of follow-up observations. My first task has been to organise the production of the first compact source catalogue and to design a postage stamp image server to allow easy access to the data for the wider community. Complementary data was extracted from other Galactic plane surveys (e.g., UKIDSS, GLIMPSE, MIPSGAL, HiGAL, CORNISH) to compile the comprehensive multi-wavelength data set that is required to maximise the scientific return of these surveys.

2008 – 2011: OCE Postdoctoral Fellow, Australia Telescope National Facility

Upon taking up the post I directed my own research project. Following on from work started at Leeds I went on to identify a bona-fide sample of young massive stars. I used this sample to construct a luminosity function of massive stars and investigated the three dimensional structure of our Galaxy. Between July 2009 and February 2010 I held the post of “Millimetre Research Scientist” and took a leading role in the characterisation of the 12- and 7-mm receiver systems, the commissioning of a new “Fast Mapping” observing mode, and in the commissioning of a new broadband correlator for the Compact Array.

2004 – 2008: Postdoctoral Research Assistant, University of Leeds

I took charge of the radio continuum and molecular line aspects of the Red MSX Source (RMS; www.ast.leeds.ac.uk/RMS) survey, a project designed to identify a large well-selected sample of young massive stars from an initial sample of 2000 near- and mid-infrared selected candidates. Designed and construct a database to house all of the multi-wavelength observational data obtained and ancillary information

Last updated 23rd September 2023