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Samantha Rolfe

Samantha Rolfe

Lecturer in Astrobiology and Principal Technical Officer at Bayfordbury Observatory, University of Hertfordshire
I am a Principle Technical Officer and Lecturer in Astrobiology at the University of Hertfordshire. During the months of October to March I am often teaching our undergraduate students practical astronomy when they come to the University of Hertfordshire Observatory at Bayfordbury. They learn how to use the telescopes to observe and study various objects including asteroids, exoplanets, galaxies star clusters and planetary nebulae. My lecture series in Astrobiology consists of teaching how physics and astrophysics can be applied to the search for life in our Solar System and beyond.

At Bayfordbury Observatory, I am constructing a teaching radio interferometer, comprising of three 3m dishes on a 115m baseline to provide a stepping stone between the theory of radio astronomy and the multi-million pound world class facilities that our students may end up working on if they choose a career in radio astronomy.

I studied for an MPhys in Physics with Astrophysics at the University of Leicester followed by a Planetary Science and Astrobiology PhD at the Open University. My PhD involved studying biological molecules with a Raman spectrometer that had been exposed to laboratory simulations of the martian surface environment. I have applied this experience to a project at the University of Hertfordshire where I am researching the detectability of bioaerosols (particles in the atmosphere of biological origin, such as pollens, bacteria, etc.) with the LIDAR remote sensing station (LiSsI), which has an agriculture application such as crop protection.

I regularly do outreach and public engagement too, including writing articles, giving public talks and media interviews, and taking the University of Hertfordshire’s mobile planetaria to schools to inspire the next generation of scientists.

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