Stephen M. Wilkins

Lecturer in Astrophysics in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Sussex.


Department of Physics and Astronomy
University of Sussex
Brighton, BN1 9QH
Sussex, UK




My research predominantly concerns understanding the process of galaxy formation and evolution especially at very high-redshift. I work with observations from Hubble (like the Hubble eXtreme Deep Field), Spitzer, Herschel, and the Very Large Telescope amongst others. I also work with large simulations, most recently through the BlueTides project.

An accessible introduction to the high-redshift field can be found in a recent Astronomy & Geophysics article I authored with Elizabeth Stanway. You can download a copy here. This was part of a wider series of articles all focussing of the high-redshift Universe that I coordinated. I have also written a brief article for the Conversation.


I currently work on 3 main projects in additional to a number of smaller standalone projects while generally building towards JWST and other facilities.


BLUETIDES is a very large, high-resolution, hydrodynamical simulation of the Epoch of Reionisation. It is run using the NCSA BlueWaters facility in the United States.


Interrogator is a flexible SED analysis tool using an MCMC based inference engine. Interrogator's flexibility lies in its ability to use a wide range of stellar population synthesis (SPS) models, initial mass functions, star formation history parameterisations, and dust models.


The Simulations of Massive Objects in the Reionisation Epoch (SMORE) project aims to complement BLUETIDES, EAGLE, and other large hydrodynamical simulation projects by simulating the most massive objects to form in the early Universe.


I am currently organising (as chair or member of the SOC) a number of different meetings taking place in 2016:

Signals from the Deep Past - Unveiling Early Cosmic Structures (18th - 22nd July 2016)

Education and Public Outreach

Over the years I've been involved in lots of education and public outreach events and have spent time developing a variety of different activities.

Sussex Universe Talk (Sept. 2016)

This is presentation I gave as part of the Sussex Universe talk series. You can download a copy here

Lewes Science Festival (2016)

I am currently the Director of the Lewes Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Festival. In April 2016 we held our first event, a STEM fair aimed at KS2/3 students and their families but open to all, in Lewes town hall. During the course of the afternoon there were over 600 visitors and we received outstanding feedback. In 2017 we plan to have a wider range of events, including "Science on Tap" - a series of talks in pubs, a stargazing Lewes event, and another fair (scheduled for the 22nd April).

From Quarks to the Cosmos (2016)

A two hour lecture on "Exploring the Dark Ages" part of the From Quarks to the Cosmos module aimed at non-physicists at the University of Sussex. You can download a copy here.

Nerd Nite (2015)

I recently (20th August 2015) gave a talk, over beer, at Nerd Night in Brighton. You can download a copy here

Cosmic Cards

An Astronomy themed comparison card game which can be downloaded here. Developed with the help of Claire Baker, Sian Owen, Phil Marshall, and Shravan Shetty and supported by a Science and Technologies Facilities Council small awards grant.


A multi-wavelength viewer of the Hubble Ultra Deep Field (or Extreme Deep Field) encompassing data form the UV to far-IR.

XDF Viewer

A website allowing a user to explore all the galaxies in the Hubble eXtreme Deep Field (XDF), our deepest view of the Universe. Users can click individual sources to examine mult-wavelength imaging and see their spectral energy distribution and inferred physical properties.

Known Universe

An experimental interactive 3D visualisation of the known Universe using spectroscopic observations from a variety of large surveys.


I currently teach the FHEQ Level 4 (Year 1) module Introduction to Astrophysics and the FHEQ Level 6 (Year 3) module Extragalactic Astronomy. I'm also a lecturer for the FHEQ Level 4 module Quarks to the Cosmos which is aimed at non-physicists (see above for my lecture). For more information on these see the StudyDirect (internal to Sussex) pages.

I also supervise final year projects (BSc and MPhys), long MSc, and PhD projects.

I am currently (since Sept. 2013) the undergraduate admissions tutor for the department, in addition to a range of other administrative duties.


Outside of work I spend most of time exploring the South Downs national park with Sam or making things (mostly lego models, furniture, but now knives). I'm also part of a group of people who make big bonfires and march through Lewes with flaming torches.