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Photo of Prof Sean Matt

Prof Sean Matt

Associate Professor of Astrophysics


Telephone: 01392 726611

Extension: (Streatham) 6611

I seek to understand how stellar activity (rotation, mass loss, accretion, magnetic fields) influences the formation, structure, evolution, and environments of stars.  My research is primarily theoretical and computational stellar astrophysics, in the areas of star formation (especially star-disk interaction), stellar angular momentum and spin evolution, stellar winds, accretion, convection, magnetic field generation, and the formation of jets and nebulae. I have expertise in magnetohydrodynamics (MHD), employing both analytic and computational (numerical simulation) techniques, developing and using a variety of numerical codes.

I lead the ERC-funded project AWESoMeStars.  Its five-year mission: to (boldly) develop a comprehensive, physical description of the origin and evolution of stellar rotation, magnetic activity, mass loss, and accretion.  Meet the research team.


  • Ph.D. in Astronomy, August, 2002, University of Washington
  • M.S. in Astronomy, December, 1998, University of Washington
  • B.S. in Physics & Astronomy, December, 1996, University of Arizona


  • 2016 - present: Associate Professor of Astrophysics, University of Exeter
  • 2013 - 2016:  Senior Lecturer in Astrophysics, University of Exeter
  • 2009 - present:  Research Affiliate of Space Science Institute (SSI), Boulder, Colorado
  • 2010 - 2013:  Senior Postdoc at CEA Saclay, France
  • 2010, spring:  Instructor of Stellar Structure and Evolution (ASTR 531), University of Washington
  • 2008 - 2010:  NASA Postdoctoral Program Senior Fellow, NASA Ames Research Center
  • 2005 - 2008:  Levinson/VITA Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Virginia
  • 2004 - 2005:  Postdoctoral Research Associate, McMaster University
  • 2004, autumn:  Instructor of physics (PHYS 1B03), McMaster University
  • 2002 - 2004:  CITA National Postdoctoral Fellow, McMaster University
  • 1998 - 2002:  Research Assistant, University of Washington
  • 1997 - 1999: Teaching Assistant, University of Washington
  • 1997:  Large Telescope Optics Shop Employee, Rayleigh Optical Corp. (ROC), Tucson, Arizona
  • 1997:  Tutor of Maths and Physics, Tucson, Arizona
  • 1995 & 1996:  NSF/REU Summer Research Assistant, National Solar Observatory, Sunspot, New Mexico

Funded Research Projects

As Principal Investigator:

  • 2016 - 2021:  ERC Consolidator Grant 2015 AWESoMeStars; "Accretion, Winds, and Evolution of Spins and Magnetism of Stars," U. of Exeter; €2,206,205
  • 2017 - 2022:  2 PhD Studentships for ERC project AWESoMeStars, internally funded (College EMPS), U. of Exeter; £160,000
  • 2016 - 2017:  Cost-PI (via SSI), science Co-I; "The Rotation/Actitivy Relation of M Dwarfs," NASA/Chandra Cycle 17 observing proposal #17200112 (PI B. Stelzer), SSI; US$33,026
  • 2015 summer:  Host of Summer UG Research Student Funding, funded by Haverford College KINSC, U. of Exeter; US$5,000
  • 2015 summer:  Summer UG Research Student Funding, internally funded (DARO/Santander), U. of Exeter; £5,000
  • 2014 - 2018:  PhD Studentship, internally funded (College EMPS), U. of Exeter; £80,000
  • 2008 - 2010:  "Rotational Evolution from Birth to the Solar Age," NASA Postdoctoral Program Senior Fellowship, NASA Ames Research Center; US$140,000
  • 2005 - 2008:  Levinson/VITA Postdoctoral Fellowship, U. of Virginia; US$190,000
  • 2002 - 2004:  CITA Postdoctoral Fellowship, McMaster U.; CAD$95,000
  • 2000 summer:  NASA Goddard Space Flight Center High Performance Computing 3-week Summer School; US$2,000
  • 1995 & 1996 summer:  NSF/REU Summer Research Bursary and Travel, National Solar Observatory, NM; 2xUS$4,000

As Co-Investigator:

  • 2012 - 2016:  “TOUPIES: TOwards Understanding the sPIn Evolution of Stars,” team member of CEA partnership (Co-I S. Brun), ANR (French) Blanc SIMI5-6 02001 (PI J. Bouvier), Shared between IPAG, CEA AIM, IRAP, LUPM; €615,272
  • 2010 - 2012:  “Inferring the Launch Conditions of the DG Tau Jet from Chandra Obs.,” NASA/Chandra Cycle 11 theory grant #11200687 (PI Z.-Y. Li), UVA;  US$57,997
  • 2008 - 2011: “Angular Momentum Evolution and X-ray Production in Low-Mass Pre-Main-Sequence Stars,” NSF AST 0808072 (PI K. Stassun), Vanderbilt U.; US$289,810

Invited Presentations

Invited presentations and keynote talks at international conferences:

  • "Early Rotational Evolution"; Invited Review, IAU Symp. 314: Young Stars & Planets Near the Sun, Atlanta, Georgia, May, 2015
  • "The Importance of Accretion & Outflows for Young Star Spins"; Accretion and Outflows Throughout the Scales: from YSOs to AGNs, Lyon, France, October, 2014
  • "MHD Simulations to Compute Stellar Angular Momentum Loss"; UK MHD Meeting, Exeter, UK, 2014
  • "The Physics of Stellar Angular Momentum Evolution"; Invited Review, 400 Years of Stellar Rotation, Natal, Brazil, November, 2013
  • "Angular Momentum Evolution of Young, Low-Mass Stars and Brown Dwarfs: Observations and Theory"; Review (with J. Bouvier, S. Mohanty, A. Scholz, K. Stassun, C. Zanni), Protostars and Planets VI, Heidelberg, Germany, July, 2013
  • "The Physics of Stellar Spin Evolution"; Invited Review, special session on Angular Momentum Evolution of Cool Stars: 17th Cambridge Workshop on Cool Stars, Stellar Systems, and the Sun, Barcelona, Spain, June, 2012
  • "Stellar Winds in Low Mass Stars"; Magnetism in Massive Stars (MiMeS) 6th Workshop, CEA Saclay, France, May, 2012
  • "Accretion-Powered Stellar Winds"; Magnetic Protostars & Planets Meeting, Toulouse, France, November, 2011
  • "Magnetic Fields and Wind Braking"; Invited Review, special session on the Rotation-Magnetic Field Relation: 15th Cambridge Workshop on Cool Stars, Stellar Systems, and the Sun, St. Andrews, Scotland, July 2008
  • "Understanding the Spins of Young Stars"; Invited Review, 14th Cambridge Workshop on Cool Stars, Stellar Systems, and the Sun, Pasadena CA, Nov. 2006
  • "Pre-Main-Sequence Stellar Winds: Hot or Cold, Weak or Bold?"; ASIAA-TIARA Star Formation Workshop, Taipei, Taiwan, Dec. 2005
  • "Spin of Accreting Stars: Accretion-Powered Stellar Winds vs. Disk Locking"; TIARA Star Formation Program, Hsinchu, Taiwan, Nov./Dec. 2005
  • "Disk, Jet, and Lobe Formation by Winds in Rotating Dipole Magnetic Fields"; Massive Stars: From Photospheres to V_infinity (Workshop to honor career of J. Cassinelli), Madison WI, Sept. 2004
  • "The Spin History of Protostars: Disk Locking, Revisited"; Gravitational Collapse: From Massive Stars to Planets (Workshop to honor the career of Peter Bodenheimer), Ensenada, Mexico, December, 2003
  • "The Last Hurrah: PPN Formation by a Magnetic Explosion"; Asymmetric Planetary Nebulae III (Conference), Mt. Rainier WA, July 2003

Contributions to the Community

  • NASA Chandra Guest Observer Program Panel Member, 2015
  • NASA Astrophysics Theory Program Grants Panel Member, 2012
  • NSF Astronomy & Astrophysics Research Grants Panel Member, 2009
  • Hubble Space Telescope Cycle 17 TAC Panel Member, 2008
  • External reviewer for funding bodies, including STFC Astronomy research grants; STFC Ernest Rutherford Fellowship Grant Scheme; Royal Society Fellow Research Grants; ANR (France); CONICYT (Chile); FWO Fellowship (Belgium); ISF (Israel)
  • Referee for ApJ, ApJ Letters, A&A, AJ, MNRAS, PASP
  • Organizing Committee Member (SAC) and Discussion Panel Chair for meeting Transport Processes and Accretion in YSOs, Ringberg, Germany, 2011
  • Member of working group on Research Opportunities in Plasma Astrophysics, 2010
  • Helped polish primary mirrors for the 2-Micron All Sky Survey (2MASS), and solely responsible for polishing 2.4m aluminum mirror used to test the MMT secondary mirror (while at ROC), 1997


  • Public Talk at UVA McCormick Observatory, Charlottesville, Virginia, 2007
  • Seminar Speaker for Hamilton Amateur Astronomers, Hamilton ON, Canada, 2002
  • Guest on two Laura Lee Radio Shows in Seattle, Washington on the topics of "Coronal Mass Ejections" and "Ice on the Moon," 2000
  • Liaison Person for Inquiries from Public (fielding questions about seasonal shadow predictions, brigth sky objects, UFOs, etc.) in the Astronomy Department at University of Washington, 1999-2002
  • Public Tour Guide for Telescopes at National Solar Observatory, Sacramento Peak, Sunspot, New Mexico, 1995, 1996


  • 2015, European Research Council (ERC) Consolidator Grant
  • 2008, NASA Postdoctoral Program Senior Fellowship
  • 2005, Levinson/VITA Postdoctoral Fellowship
  • 2002, CITA National Postdoctoral Fellowship