I am a postdoctoral researcher working in astronomical instrumentation and exoplanetary science at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), USA. I was born and brought up in North West Greater London, UK, and since then, due to the nature of my work, I have had the opportunity to travel and live in different countries. My research work focuses primarily on characterising the limitations of ground based visbile/infra-red telescopes and finding ways to correct for them.
Center for Astrophysics and Space Sciences
University of California San Diego
9500 Gilman Dr
CA 92093, USA
sperera @ ucsd.edu
Doctor of Philosophy • Oct 2013 - Oct 2017
PhD Project: "Characterising and Correcting Atmospheric Seeing for Astronomy" - Successfully designed, developed and deployed the Shack-Hartmann Image Motion Monitor, a low-cost portable seeing monitor. The work included simulating the instrument and optical atmospheric propagation, aligning the optics, on-site testing at the La Palma observatory and comparing results with SCIDAR. This work led to a collaboration with Andres Guesalaga from Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, for the combined FASS-SHIMM turbulence profiler instrument. A prototype of the FASS-SHIMM was installed in 2018 at Paranal (see below). Supervisors: Dr. R. W. Wilson & Prof. R. Myers
MSci Physics: Upper Second Class• Oct 2008 - Jul 2012
MSci. Project: "Characterising the Atomic Fluctuations of Ovens used in Ion Traps" - Optimising ovens used in the Imperial College Penning trap to produce calcium ions. Work entailed research into thin film physics, working with rotatory and ion vacuum pumps and handling liquid nitrogen. Supervisor: Prof. R. Thompson
Postdoctoral Researcher • January 2021 - Present
Postdoctoral Researcher • July 2018 - October 2020
Postdoctoral Researcher • January - July 2018
Intern • October 2012 - April 2013
Intern • June 2012 - August 2012
Intern • July 2010 - September 2010
P-REx is a method for predicting the piston drift over individual telescopes for the purpose of interferometry
Analysed fringe tracking and science data from the LBTI to characterise the data quality with respect to the telescope's vibrational environment, as part of HOSTS.
Estimating wind velocity from partially illuminated telemetry data to virtually fill the non-illuminated sub-apertures in the direction of the wind for LINC-NIRVANA MCAO.
The SHIMM is a low-cost portable seeing monitor that I developed during my postgraduate studies.
The FASS is a novel turbulence profiling technique developed by Andres Guesalaga. For my short postdoc after my PhD I commissioned the FASS-SHIMM at Paranal Observatory.
Outreach is a great tool for inspiring
the public about science. It can be a way to encourage people of all ages to get involved,
to break down stereotypes and explain why we as a society should invest in research and development.
The OIRLab at UCSD offers Cosmic Tours, which offers portable planetarium shows to local schools and communities. I have had the opportunity to volunteer for these shows as well as for activities run by UCSD's Postdoctoral Association.
The Haus der Astronomie (HdA) at MPIA offers many outreach events. They have an in-house planetarium where they showcase their work. As part of a competition, I was asked to do a voice-over of the "Checking Up in Einstein" show.
In the UK I was a STEM ambassador and throughout my postgraduate studies at Durham University I delivered many planetarium shows, organised lab tours, took part in a number of science festivals, and visited secondary schools. In addition, during my undergraduate degree, I volunteered at the Science Museum in London as an archival curator.
The Network for Young Researchers in Instrumentation for Astronomy (NYRIA) is an international network created with the intention to bring together early career researchers working in the field of VID/IR ground-based astronomical instrumentation. NYRIA aims to promote collaboration, the sharing of knowledge and experience and comradery in the field.
One of our key activities is our annual workshop. This is generally a small sized meeting (~30 attendees) hosted at different institutes each year. As part of the event all attendees present their work, we give tours of the host institute’s labs, organise a hack-a-thon, invite speakers to discuss research and a career in astronomical instrumentation, and organise social activities including a conference dinner. As well as this, we have a mailing list where we forward PhD and postdoc positions as well as conferences that might be of interest.
As one of the co-founders of NYRIA (see History of NYRIA) I co-run the network, help organise our annual meetings (including hosting one of our early events in Durham University in 2016) and created and maintain (with Felix Bosco) our website. I am currently in the process of creating a blog on the website where members can write articles about their research and experience as a researcher.
I, along with seven others, co-founded NYRIA after meeting at the "Reaching the limits of the sky, astronomical instrumentation in the 21st Century" summer school, in 2014. The summer school was an incredible experience and for most of us it was the first time to Chile and Paranal Observatory. We all got on like a house on fire and at the end of the two weeks it was sad to say our goodbyes. Most of us stayed in contact and those who were based in Europe decided to get together in Heidelberg, Germany, at MPIA. Those at MPIA organized a tour of the facilities and we gave talks to update each other on what we had done in the last year. In the end, we realized how special a community like ours was and from then on we decided to run annual workshops in different institutes, growing with each year, with attendees from across the globe.
Please visit the NYRIA website to get more information on what we do and what we have done. If you have any questions feel free to contact me.
One of my favourite hobbies is decorating cakes.
I got my PADI in Koh Tao, Thailand with Davy Jones’ Locker. It was one of the most amazing feelings having an insight to a world that I had only had through David Attenbourgh documentaries. It is a feeling I have been chasing ever since. Since I am not a fan of cold water I try and take one diving holiday a year, making to Thailand, La Palma, Sri Lanka, Oman and France.
Whilst at Durham University, I played (in different positions) for three years Ustinov Women’s Basketball Team. I also love to watch the sport and follow the British Basketball League ...Go Lions! .
I am a big fan of weight training. Check out Athlean-X