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Dr Sam Morrell

Postdoctoral Research Fellow


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Research Background

I am a currently a Postdoctoral Research Fellow working between the Astrophysics Group and the Environment and Sustainability Institute at the University of Exeter. I am trained as an astrophysicist and received my PhD from the University of Exeter in 2020. My PhD research project, under the supervision of Prof. Tim Naylor, involved studying the evolution of low-mass, M-dwarf stars; both in young stellar clusters and on the main-sequence. Through this work I developed a new technique for measuring the radii of M-dwarf stars. My first lead-author paper (Morrell & Naylor 2019) presented the largest, most precise catalogue of measurements of M-dwarf effective temperatures and radii on offer. My more recent work entails generalising this method to higher mass, Solar type, potentially exoplanet-hosting stars. My other astrophysical research interests include understanding the violent, turbulent environments in the protoplanetary discs around Young Stellar Objects (YSOs) and better understanding the characteristics of interstellar extinction.

Read my thesis here:

Current Research

In my current position, I am using my expertise in astrophysical methods and computational physics to help manage the NERC-funded project Artificial light as a driver of nighttime landscape ecology, working with Prof. Kevin Gaston, Dr Jenny Hatchell and Dr Jon Bennie. In this project, we are unifying novel light measurement techniques with state-of-the-art computational models to characterise and predict the spatio-temporal characteristics of artificial light at night. Our objective is then to use these models to enhance our understanding of how artificial light affects both humans and animals.

Key Publications