Open Science

During my time as a PhD student, I have been very involved with the SunPy and the wider astronomy / astrophysics Python community. My involvement started with my first contributions to the SunPy project, and then my desire to grow and integrate the SunPy community with the wider Python community.

My involvement with SunPy started with code contributions, working on features such as image rotation and alignment, and the Map class for holding imaging data, and then expanded into managing releases and then into being the lead developer.

Over the last few years I have been active in contributing to a few open source projects, primarily written in Python. I served as Lead Developer and Executive Director of the SunPy project for 7 months up until September 2014, and have since shared the responsibilities of the role. I am a member of the SunPy board and an active core developer. Below is some information on the projects I am involved with.


The SunPy project aims “to facilitate and promote the use and development of a community-led, free and open-source solar data-analysis software based on the scientific Python environment.” My involvement with SunPy started in mid 2012, when I discovered the 0.1 release of the project on Twitter. I had long wished of a Python alternative to the IDL based solarsoft library, and I enthusiastically started contributing to the project.

My contributions to SunPy have focused around its imaging capabilities and coordinate transformations. Although I have also developed a client for the Joint Science Operations Center's (JSOC) online data repository and lead the development of other areas of the package.


Astropy is a core package for astronomy, it contains packages for coordinate handling, world coordinate transforms and many many other goodies. SunPy makes use of Astropy throughout the code, so I also contribute code back to Astropy to make it better for all.

I have been involved in developing the updated coordinates package for Astropy, in both the design and implementation. I since mentored a Google Summer of Code student who implemented the solar physics coordinate systems using the new Astropy framework. I have also contributed various other small features.


yt is an excellent Python package for the analysis and visualisation of different simulation data. It's original focus was astrophysical simulations which makes it very well suited to my MHD simulations. I have made various contributions to yt as I encountered bugs or desired features.

Teaching Python

I have been lucky enough to have the opportunity to teach a few different groups of people Python. I designed and ran a "Python for Scientific Computing" 5 day course for two groups at Armagh Observatory and then Queens University Belfast. I have also lead Python tutorial sessions for The University of Sheffield's MAS115 module as well as assisting in the R section of the course. I was also invited to assist in teaching a 2 day Software Carpentry bootcamp at ESA's ESAC where I wrote and ran matplotlib and SunPy sessions.

More recently myself and some collegues have started organising workshops for solar physicists on Python and SunPy. With the aim to arm them with the knowledge they need to start using Python for their research. As part of this I have qualified as a Software Carpentry instructor.

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