Matt Edwards uses statistics to explore space, and has been lucky to work with the team who won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics.

Man standing and learning on a red bridge with a glass building in the background

Programme: PhD in Statistics

“I’ve always been interested in astronomy and astrophysics. Statistician John Tukey famously said “the best thing about being a statistician is that you get to play in everyone’s backyard”.  I realised that I could play in the most epic backyard of all – space – using my statistical toolbox. 

“Since graduation I landed a two-year postdoctoral research position at the University of Edinburgh. I’m currently working on the space-based Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) project, using statistics to understand how noise from the optical bench will influence our science outputs.

“Part of my PhD focused on modelling noise from the ground-based gravitational wave detectors, Advanced LIGO. Understanding noise is necessary for us to make accurate astrophysical statements about a gravitational wave signal. I was very fortunate to have very talented PhD supervisors who gave me insightful guidance and the freedom to explore my research interests.

“I loved being a member of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration (LSC). This is a group of over 1,000 scientists with the shared goal of detecting gravitational waves using the Advanced LIGO detectors in the United States. I was lucky to be part of this collaboration when gravitational waves from a pair of stellar mass black holes were directly detected for the first time! For this detection, my PhD grandfather (PhD supervisor of my PhD supervisor), and two other LSC colleagues, were awarded the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics.”