The MeerTRAP Team

The MeerTRAP team is led by Professor Ben Stappers at the Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics, at the University of Manchester.

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. 

Manisha Caleb


Discovery Early Career Researcher Fellow and Lecturer


Manisha Caleb joined the MeerTRAP team after completing a PhD in Astronomy and 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 is currently a Discovery Early Career Researcher Fellow (DECRA) and Lecturer at the University of Sydney in Australia, continuing to research the FRB phenomenon. She also continues to lead the international multiwavelength collaboration to follow-up MeerTRAP FRBs and study their host galaxies. Manisha is passionate about origami, travel, and good coffee.

Kaustubh Rajwade


ARGO postdoctoral researcher


After graduating from West Virginia University with a PhD in Physics, Kaustubh joined the MeerTRAP team in 2017. He was responsible for the development and deployment of the single pulse search pipeline for MeerTRAP. At the same time, he pursued his research in studies of FRBs using data from telescopes all around the world (including MeerKAT). He is interested in studying neutron stars at different wavelengths and tries to have a go at them whenever he can. From January 2022, Kaustubh has been an Apertif Radio-Gravitational wave Observatory (ARGO) post-doctoral reseracher at the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy (ASTRON) in Dwingeloo, the Netherlands, where he continues to search for FRBs and neutron stars. In his free time, he likes to play the drums.You can find a list of his publications here.

Mayuresh Surnis


Postdoctoral researcher


Mayuresh completed his PhD from NCRA-TIFR, Pune and was a post-doctral scholar at West Virginia University with Duncan Lorimer in commissioning GREENBURST which is a real-time FRB search back-end on the GBT.  In the MeerTRAP team, he is contributing towards implementing the machine  learning algorithm for candidate classification and database management.  He is interested in pulsar and transient searching pipelines and imaging studies of interesting pulsars.  He is also passionate about understanding the pulsar emission mechanisms.  In his free time, he like to drink loads of coffee, read books, listen to good music, cook and bake with his wife.

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.

Laura Driessen


CSIRO Early Research Career Postdoctoral Research Fellow


Laura finished her MeerTRAP PhD in 2021 and now works as a postdoctoral researcher at the CSIRO in Perth, Western Australian.

Laura works on the pipeline to rapidly localise fast radio transients detected in real-time by the MeerTRAP pipeline and localising FRBs in MeerKAT images.  She also work untargeted searches for variable sources in radio images with MeerKAT, and no works on searching for stellar radio sources with the ASKAP telescope as part of POSSUM and VAST. 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, sewing clothes for herself and her baby nephew, and dancing.

Tiaan Bezuidenhout


PhD candidate


Tiaan is a final year PhD candidate at JBCA interested in pulsars, radio transient surveys, and radio interferometry. He is primarily involved in follow-up science on pulsars and transients discovered by MeerTRAP, leading long-term observing campaigns of these sources with other telescopes. He also works on rapidly localising transient and pulsar single pulses detected in MeerKAT tied-array beams. Originally from Mpumalanga, South Africa, Tiaan completed his Master's of Astrophysics at North-West University in South Africa, before joining the MeerTRAP team in 2018. When not doing astrophysics, Tiaan is out supporting the Springboks (sorry, Ben!) or spreading the gospel of proper braai technique to uncultured Europeans.

Former team members

Jon Masterson


Jon joined the group in August 2017. He was 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.


Jon has gone on to pastures new and is managing projects in Materials Science within UoM.

Sally Cooper


Sally joined the group in October 2018 and was the Project Manager until September 2019. Sally has a research background in pulsar searching and was formerly a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Manchester. Sally took care of the daily requirements of the project and assisting the MeerTRAP team achieve their goals. Sally also managed several projects including the DARA Big Data project, an SKA-related capacity building project in Southern Africa.


Sally continued the excellent project manager work from Jon and is now working for the Department of Education.

Sotiris Sanidas


Sotiris was 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.


While Sotiris has now left MeerTRAP, he hasn’t gone far and works on IT support for the entire Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics and is still helping us out with the infamous tpn-0-49. He enabled the entire MeerTRAP computing part to get off the ground.

Mark Glass


Mark joined the team in October 2019 and took care of various administrative functions to support the team.  He also supported two grants related to the LHC.  Mark, like Ben, is originally from New Zealand making the MeerTRAP team the most Kiwi intensive group in the JBCA.  Outside of work Mark is an enthusiastic cricketer and has 3 boys to keep him busy.


Mark's contributions were essential in getting us through an important phase of the MeerTRAP project. He has now left the University.


Vincent Morello


Vincent worked 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).


After finishing his PhD on MeerTRAP Vincent continued on to a PDRA working on both MeerTRAP and the SKA. In May 2022 he decided to leave academia and is pursuing a career in industry. We are extremely thankful for the amazing amount of work he put in to 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).