The MeerTRAP Team

The MeerTRAP team is led by Professor Ben Stappers at the Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics, at the University of Manchester. The team consists of five postdoctoral researchers and three PhD candidates.

Professor Ben Stappers

 

Principal Investigator

 

Ben leads the MeerTRAP project and his primary research interests are radio pulsars, neutron stars and rapid radio transients. He is from New Zealand and did his undergraduate degree at the University of Canterbury and his PhD at the Australian National University. He then spent 10 years working in the Netherlands at University of Amsterdam and ASTRON. As well as being interested in the search for, and study of, pulsars and fast transients he is interested in developing the required hardware and software. He has been involved in the design, build and commissioning of LOFAR and co-leads a team designing the pulsar and fast transient capabilities for the Square Kilometre Array. Outside of work he enjoys travelling, good food and attempting to keep his garden under control. As you can see from the picture, he also likes a good shirt. 

 

Sotiris Sanidas

 

Postdoctoral researcher

 

Sotiris is responsible for general task coordination in the MeerTRAP project, working mainly on instrumentation and backend design/operation. After finishing his BSc and MSc studies at the University of Patras, Greece, he joined The University of Manchester and got his PhD in 2012, where he worked on gravitational wave backgrounds of cosmic string networks and pulsar timing arrays (EPTA). He continued as a research associate, switching from theory to instrumentation, interferometry and high precision pulsar timing with LEAP, and in 2015 moved to Amsterdam to work mainly on pipeline development for LOTAAS. Currently he is involved in EPTA/LEAP/IPTA, the LOFAR Pulsar Working Group, and LISA. In his free time he enjoys music, with a characteristically annoying bias for the offspring of the early 80's underground industrial UK scene, and watching videos of the good old 500cc 2-stroke MotoGP era.


Kaustubh Rajwade

 

Postdoctoral researcher

 

Kaustubh is responsible for setting up the real-time time domain FRB search pipeline for MeerTRAP (no pressure!). He graduated from West Virginia University in 2017 with a PhD in Physics and Astronomy under the guidance of Professor Duncan Lorimer. His field of research is studying neutron stars at radio wavelengths and their interaction with the interstellar medium. He is also interested in multi-wavelength studies of pulsars and tries to have a go at other wavelengths whenever he can. In his free time he likes to play the drums. You can find a list of his publications here.

 

Manisha Caleb

 

Postdoctoral researcher

 

Manisha Caleb joined the MeerTRAP team after doing a Master's of Science in Spacecraft Technology and Satellite Communications at the University College London and a PhD in Astrophysics focusing on Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs) at the Australian National University in Canberra. She specialises in radio transients, FRB searches, FRB polarimetry and population studies of FRBs using simulations. She will be leading the multi-wavelength collaboration for MeerTRAP, to follow-up FRBs in as close to real time as possible. Manisha is passionate about origami, travel and good coffee.


Fabian Jankowski

 

Postdoctoral researcher

 

Fabian holds a diploma degree in Physics from Humboldt University, Berlin and a PhD in Astrophysics from Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne. He started off working in gamma-ray astronomy researching supernova remnants. For the last few years, he has studied radio pulsars using some of the largest telescopes on Earth. He specialises in studying their spectral, rotational and single-pulse properties. He is part of multiple projects to search for and understand fast radio transients. In the MeerTRAP project, he is responsible for the design, implementation and integration of the system. He will contribute significantly to both transient and pulsar search efforts once the system becomes operational. In his time off, he enjoys travelling and various outdoor activities, such as rock climbing and mountaineering.

Mateusz Malenta

 

Software engineer

 

After searching for signs of massive star formation during his final year Master’s project, Mateusz skipped the Main Sequence and joined the pulsar group at The University of Manchester. He’s been trying to find new sources, mainly Fast Radio Bursts, using GPUs and Phased Array Feeds ever since. His main role in the MeerTRAP team will be ensuring all the code is lightning fast and working correctly and that our hardware is running smoothly. When he is not making computers do his bidding, Mateusz likes complaining about FORTRAN and Python indentation, making a lot of good coffee and enjoys an occasional book or two, followed by hours of video games.


Vincent Morello

 

PhD candidate

 

Vincent currently works on pulsar searching but is enthusiastic about any science topic that involves algorithms, statistics, and writing code (especially Python). He did his masters by research at Swinburne University in Melbourne, Australia, where he developed a machine learning algorithm to classify pulsar candidates and found many new pulsars in Parkes data. Vincent is currently working on an alternative pulsar search technique that is more sensitive than the popular method based on Fourier Transforms, and looks forward to deploying it on MeerTRAP soon. In his spare time, Vincent likes running, strategy board games, and learning how to garden like a true English gentleman (even though he hails from Southern France).

Tiaan Bezuidenhout

 

PhD candidate

 

Tiaan is the newest member of the group, having only joined the MeerTRAP team in May 2018. He completed his master's degree at North-West University in South Africa. Tiaan will be involved in the discovery and classification of short-duration radio transients, particularly RRATs. When not doing astronomy, Tiaan is out supporting the Springboks or complaining about the UK's substandard meat quality.


Laura Driessen

 

PhD candidate

www.AstroLaura.com

 

Laura is working on the pipeline to rapidly localise fast radio transients detected in real-time by the MeerTRAP pipeline. Laura is also working on he possibility of detecting stellar flares with MeerTRAP. Laura is originally from Melbourne, Australia and completed a Bachelor of Science (Science Scholars program) at the University of Monash in Melbourne and a Master's of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands. When she's not working, Laura loves reading sci-fi novels, crocheting, and dancing.

Jon Masterson

 

Project manager

 

Jon joined the group in August 2017. He is the Project Manager for the MeerTRAP team taking care of the day to day requirements of the project. He has a strong financial and procurement background with more than 10 years experience working as a finance manager at The University of Manchester. When he is not in work, Jon enjoys cycling and cooking.



MeerTRAP

The Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics

The University of Manchester


This project has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement number 694745).