Personal Details

Name: Dr Kathryn Harris

 Work Address: 203 Robeson Hall

                           Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

                           Blacksburg, VA, 20461

Work Telephone: 540-231-6665



Jan 2013 - June 2015: Postdoctoral Associate, Virginia Tech 

Sept 2012 - Jan 2013: Junior Lecturer,  University of Central Lancashire 

March 2012 - Sept 2013:  Research Associate, University of Central Lancashire 

Jan-March 2012: Postdoctoral Associate, University of Nice 

March 2010 - June 2011: Outreach officer for the department and observatory, University of Central Lancashire 

2007 - 2011    PhD in Extragalactic Physics, University of Central Lancashire, UK
                         Thesis title: Cluster and Large Scale Environments of Quasars
2003 - 2007   MSci (Hons) Physics and Astrophysics, University of Birmingham, 1st
                         Thesis title: Comparison of Strong Gravitational Lensing and X-ray Masses of Galaxy Clusters

Research Interests

Quasar and AGN environments may hold the keys to quasars fuelling mechanisms. In my thesis I am using a large database of quasars and AGN to study the large scale environments of quasars and AGN to determine the most likely fuelling mechanisms as a function of both redshift and AGNs luminosity.

Literature shows the existence of half a dozen Ultra-Strong UV FeII Emitters. The spectra show a large excess of FeII emission in the 3000A range. Currently the reason for this emission is unknown. I have recently found another 7 of these FeII emitters in the a candidate overdense region of quasars.


Haberzettl, L., Williger, G.M., Haines, C.P., Valls-Gabaud, D., Harris, K.A., et al. 2009, The Clowes-Campusano Large Quasar Group Survey. I. GALEX Selected Sample of Lyman Break Galaxies at z~1  ApJ, 702, 506.

Harris, K.A, et al. 2013, Evidence of Increased UV FeII Emission in Quasars in Candidate Overdense Regions, accepted in MNRAS, arXiv/1308.3514

Harris, K.A., et al. 2014, Quantifying the Nature of Intracluster Light, in prep.

Litmus, 2011, Afterword on Jeremiah Horrocks and his work on the Transit of Venus,

Grants/Monies won
April 2012:            RAS travel fund, £160
February 2008:    RAS travel fund, £500
November 2010: Institute of Physics SciCast Film competition funding, £2000

Observatory Experience

During my undergraduate degree, I spent 3 months working as a summer student intern at the Angelo-Australian Observatory, which included time observing at the Angelo-Australian Observatory and the Compact Array. This time also included working on a project with a member of staff and presenting results to the department.

During my PhD I spent 2 weeks at Gemini South in Chile, with one week as a support Astronomer at the Gemini Telescope. During this time, I learnt the workings of the telescope and for the last 3 night, ran the queue and observations. The second week was spent in La Serena, learning more about the working at an observatory as well as interacting with other research staff and engineers.

Data Reduction Experience

I have worked on spectroscopic data for many years and have a very good working knowledge of data reduction and calibration. I am confident in data reduction on different instruments and pipelines and am proficient in the use of IRAF for data reduction and analysis. I have reduced data and extracted spectra from both single and multi-slit images on a range of projects such as measuring chemical abundances in galactic HII regions, and calculating redshifts. Also I have used the cosmos software from the Magellan telescope to reduce multi-slit spectroscopy. I would like to extend my knowledge in data reduction to other wavelengths and higher redshift work, and would love to learn data acquisition and reduction on different instruments.
I also have a lot of experience using various survey database, considering the limitations and possible applications of different surveys. Part of my PhD involved comparing the results from different surveys, taking into account the observing differences to study large scale quasar environments.


Prof. Duncan Farrah (Virgina Tech): AGN properties. 

Dr Gerry Williger and Dr Lutz Haberzettl (University of Louisville): Lymann Break Galaxies

Invited Seminars

January 2013: Virginia Tech

                         "FeII quasars in LQG and intra-cluster light"

June  2010:  Jeremiah Horrocks Institute, UCLan  
                       "Cluster and Large Scale Environments of Quasars'"
March 2009: University of Arizona, Tuscon     
                       "Quasar Environments"
March 2009 : University of Louisville, Kentucky 
                        "Quasar Environments"
June  2008 : Jeremiah Horrocks Institute, UCLan   
                      "Cluster and Large Scale Environments of Quasars"
March 2008:  Universidad de Chile, Santiago      
                        "Cluster and Large Scale Environments of Quasars"
March 2008: Gemini North head quarters, La Serena
                       "Cluster and Large Scale Environments of Quasars"

Conferences Attended

April 2012: Interacting Galaxies and Binary Quasars: A Cosmic Rendezvous, Trieste,Italy

March 2012: Royal Astronomical Society National Annual meeting, Manchester University
June 2011: STFC Engagement Symposium, Birmingham
June 2011: Ogden Forum, Cambridge
April 2010: Royal Astronomical Society National Annual meeting, University of Glasgow
March 2010: IAU Communicating Astronomy with the Public, Cape Town
April 2008: Royal Astronomical Society National Annual meeting   University of Belfast

Professional Memberships

Institute of Physics graduate member
Royal Astronomical Society graduate member
American Astronomical Society graduate member

Outreach and PR

I am strongly integrated into outreach and PR activities at UCLan and since March 2010, have worked part-time as the Outreach Officer for the Jeremiah Horrocks Institute. This involved running regular schools events at the observatory for all school ages, teaching basic astronomy and telescopes and presenting regular planetarium shows at the Observatory for all school ages and general public events. I have been involved in organising and running various outreach event inlcuding:
 - The UCLan BBC Stargazing Live event
 - A Schools Science Discovery Day, including inflatable planetarium and Solar science and engineering activities
 - A rocket competition between 6 different secondary schools
 - AimHigher sessions for primary school children
 - A series of workshops for primary schools children on rockets and the planets
 - A schools film competition in association with the Institute of Physics Planet SciCast project
I am also an Ogden Science officer (as well as being a STEM abassador) and meet regularly with other Science officers to discuss best practice, share ideas, and collaborate on various outreach events.
I am the University participate in an Ogden school partnerships, working closely with 3 secondary schools and 2 colleges to deliver events, provide support for them to deliver events for their feeder primaries, and provide resources and teacher training.

Positions of Responsibility

I have been involved in the Distance Learning Marking at UCLan, including marking:
  - Experiments
  - Cosmology essays
  -  Astronomy question sheets
I also organisation of the Jeremiah Horrocks Institute discussion meetings and seminars for various members of the department to give talks on their research and lead the discussions afterwards.
At Birmingham as an undergraduate, I:
  -  Organised a series of public lectures from visiting academics
  - Assisted with Open days
  -  Physics A-level summer school labs
  -  Ran events program for the Student Astronomy Society

Skills and Interests

I have a good working knowledge of R (statistics and Programming package), LaTex, Unix/Linux, MS Word, Excel and PowerPoint and experience with Perl, C++, and Bash script.

I am a certified first aider, for adults, children and babies. I also have a full UK driving license.

I am a keen dancer and enjoy yoga, going to the gym, and reading. I am also a writer with work published by the European Space Agency and recently in a book called Litmus, a selection of short stories based on Eureka moments in modern science.

Below are copies of my research and outreach CVs, including contact details for references.

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