Welcome to Matthew Smith's Personal Webpage

About Me

I'm a lecturer/Postdoctoral Researcher in the Cardiff Hub for Astrophysics Research and Technology (CHART) at Cardiff University. My research is focused on the dust and gas (basically any stuff between stars!) and how they relate to star-formation. I primarily work in nearby galaxies but sometimes extend further out into the universe (or occasionally to the Milky Way). I moved to Cardiff in 2008 to undertake my Ph.D under the supervision of Steve Eales and Jon Davies, and enjoyed living in Cardiff so much I'm still here. To find out more about my research check out my Research Page.

In addition to my research I play an active role in the department. I am currently the Director of Postgraduate Research, so look after all the PhD students in the department, and am a member of a few committees (including the School Social team and the Equality, Divisity & Inclusion committee). I have the pleasure of currently supervising Gayathri Eknath and Bradley Ward as second supervisor. In the past I supervised Thomas Williams (now a postdoc) and Connor Williams. I've now been teaching the first-year module "Introduction to Astrophysics" since I created it in 2017/8, the "Galaxies and Galaxy Evolution" module since 2018/19, as well as supervising MPhys and MSc projects - see more on my Teaching and Outreach page.

My undergraduate bachelors and masters degree was undertaken at Cambridge University in physics (natural sciences tripos). I was a member of Jesus College where I played several of the colleges sports teams (but definitely not to a high standard) and played in the college orchestra. While, unfortunately not playing many sports now, I am still a keen rugby fan and often get to see an international match. For the last few years I have helped on my old secondary schools year 8 camp in the new forest, where I help teach outdoor skills and run activities. I also enjoy science-fiction and fantasy, as well as a variety of video games. For more info see my other interests section.

Check out the rest of my website by clicking on the Menu button at the top.

Latest News

February 2024

BT Tower is Being Turned Into a Hotel

Today we had the news that BT Tower in London is being sold and being made into a hotel. My dad spent the vast majority of his long BT career based in the tower, was in the building when the IRA bomb went off, and I think he potentially was the last engineer based in the building. I luckily had a few opportunities to visit him, see the many floors of equipment, the TV switching centre below, and watch the almost total eclipse from the top. Here's a picture of my dad at his desk and an example of a 'standard' floor with racks of equipment.

Dad at his desk
Dad at his desk

April 2023

My First Colour Astro Image from my Garden!

After making some upgrades to my telescope, I've made my first colour image with my telescope! The image is of M81 a very nearby galaxy; it's an Sab class so has a fairly chunky bulge but nice spiral arms and dust lanes. I potentially overdid the colours, but as a first attempt from my suburban garden I'm pretty happy. I'm planning to start a blog to document this, keep an eye on this space.

June 2022

My PhD Student is Awarded an IOP Bell Burnell Scholarship!

My PhD student, Gayathri Eknath, has been awarded a Bell Burnell Scholarship to fund her for the final year of her PhD. The Bell Burnell Scholarship is a great scheme to try and improve diversity in physics by providing funds for PhD students. Gayathri is a very motivated student and brought this fund to the attention of the department, and wrote her successfull application. Below is a link to a nice article/press release/interview with her on the IOP website.

May 2022

The 'Rest Frame' is Reopen

Our department coffee room, officially called the 'rest frame' (yes we are a physics department...) has reopened. During the pandemic it was turned into a furniture store due to the University no longer renting 53 The Parade. Today a team of PhD students, postdocs, and a couple restored the room to its (almost) former glory. One of my favourite features of the room is its view out over the north of Cardiff looking up to the hills. Another to notice in the far corner is our PhD 'trophy' cabinet where the cork from the post-viva Champagne bottle is stored as a momento. Unfortunately, there's a bit of gap due to Covid, but hopefully we can start to fill it up now!

April 2022

Return of the Chaos Physics Ball

In another step towards 'normality' today was the return of the Annual Chaos Physics Ball. The ball is an event run by our undergraduate physics society (called Chaos), and is one of the few social events for both undgraduate students and staff. Great night had by all, and the dinner suit still fit!

October 2021

The First Sub-millimetre Image of Andromeda from the Ground!

My paper releasing the first sub-millimetre image from the ground has just been accepted to ApJS. The data is from the HASHTAG project (I am the UK PI), which images the entirety of Andromeda with SCUBA-2 at 450 and 850μm. Click the link below to go to the HASHTAG website where there is more infomation about the survey and the data products, or more information can be found on this sites HASHTAG page.

July 2018

My Work on ESA Image of the Week!

The European Space Agency decided to feature some images from my latest paper as their image of the week. The images are are from the latest data release from H-ATLAS, the largest-area survey undertaken with Herschel. The article focuses on the fact while Herschel images look noisy, each point on is a different galaxy (in fact there are so many we experience confusion as they all overlap).

July 2018

BETHS Year 8 Camp Turns 40!

I've just got back from another two weeks volunteering at my old secondary school's year 8 camp. One of the great things about camp is that it gives a chance for students from London to experience the outoors, leave all electronic gadgets behind and for some be away from home for the first time. The activities vary from canoeing, building a rope bridge over the river, to camps own olympics (with some very bizarre events). This year is camps 40th anniversary, and we've been using the same camp site in the new forest for all those years (to celebrate we took the above drone picture).