Olivia Jones with JWST

Dr. Olivia Jones

I'm a Rutherford International / Marie Sklodowska-Curie cofund Fellow at the UK Astronomy Technology Centre at the Royal Observatory, Edinburgh. Prior to this I spent 3 years as a post-doctoral research fellow at the Space Telescope Science Institute, working with Dr. Margaret Meixner.

I obtained my PhD on dusty evolved stars under the guidance of Dr. Ciska Kemper and Professor Albert Zijlstra at the Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics.

My research interests include the production of dust in evolved stars, star-formation at low metallicity, the life cycle of dust in galaxies and the stellar population of local group galaxies. The vast majority of my research involves analysing infrared and sub-mm spectroscopy, photometry and modelling dust production.

You can listen to me talk about my early research on the April 2014 Extra Jodcast or learn a bit more about JWST on Seldom Sirius.

Email: olivia.jones-AT-stfc.ac.uk


My astrophysics research focuses on dusty stellar populations in Local Group galaxies and what they have to say about the chemical evolution of the Universe.
One of the main producers of dust at solar metallicity are AGB stars; these are low to intermediate mass stars that up till now have had a quiet life on the main sequence. In their old age once the star has exhausts its supply of hydrogen in its core, the core contracts and its temperature increases, causing the outer layers of the star to expand and cool, after traversing both the red giant branch and the horizontal branch, the star reaches its final evolutionary stage the asymptotic giant branch (AGB).

Cool dusty stars emit radiation in the infrared and sub-mm, thus using infrared cameras on board the Spitzer Space Telescope and the (soon to be launched) James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) the dust producing stellar populations of Local Group galaxies can be observed. This allows evolved stars to be characterised on a galactic scale and constraints put on the chemical content of the existing stars e.g. the fraction of stars which are Carbon or Oxygen rich. I am particularly interested the chemical composition and abundances of dust as a function of the metallicity (the ratio of heavy elements to helium), in order to understand the chemical evolution and enrichment of the Universe.

Young stars in the process of formation are also bright in the infared and sub-mm. Here populations of young stars in large embedded star clusters in metal-poor galaxies in the Local Group, can be observed to study the processes that influence the formation of massive stars, protoplanetary disks and envelopes, and the environs of young stars. I am especially focused on the impact of environment on the star-formation process, in-particular the metal content and strength of the interstellar radiation field.


  • ORCID: 0000-0003-4870-5547

  • 2019












      I am a senior honour project supervisor and the co-supervisor for an Mphys project at the University of Edinburgh. I have also supervised five Research Experiences for Undergraduate (REU) students at both STScI and the Royal Observatory Edinburgh. These projects have culminated in the successful publication of two papers published in MRNAS and ApJ, with another two in preparation.

    Alumina-Silicate Model Grid

      If you wish to use the grid of Alumina and silicate models for oxygen-rich evolved stars published in Jones et al. 2014 please drop me an email. The grid, generated using the Modust radiative transfer code, samples a range of stellar and dust shell parameters and is optimized for oxygen-rich dusty evolved stars. This grid is best used to investigate the dust composition as a function of the dust-production rate.


    Cosmic Mining with the Institute for Research in Schools

    Together with the Institute for Research in Schools I am enabling school students to become astronomy researchers by taking part in cutting-edge, original research projects relating to inferred spectroscopy through the cosmic mining project. School students are analysing spectral data from Spitzer processed via CASSIS to find embedded protostars in our Galaxy and others nearby, and identify future targets for JWST. Classifications are determined via a decision tree algorithm developed by the SAGE-Spec Spitzer Legacy team, and successfully applied to all Spitzer/IRS point sources in the Magellanic Clouds. Ultimately the students will produce the first fully characterised inventory of all 11,000+ point-sources observed by Spitzer/IRS. These (sub-)sampleswill be used to investigate the chemical make-up of galaxies, provide of insights into the physics occurring in these sources, and identify potential targets for JWST. For more details on how to take part see the cosmic mining FAQ or watch the IRIS YouTube channel.


    The Jodcast was the UK's first astronomy podcast and is produced by astronomers based at Jodrell Bank Observatory and JBCA. I made my Jodcast presenting debut on the July 2010 Extra show and haven't looked back. My favourite jodcast event so far was the e-merlin road trip visiting all the e-merlin telescopes in a day and filming the trip to explain how interferometers work. In the summer of 2014 I hung up my Jodcast recorder (but not my t-shirt) for pastures new, but maybe you will here me in the occasional future episode.

    Libby et al. at the e-merlin Defford Telescope

    Libby putting a stick through a baloon without it bursting.

    Other Outreach

    Other public engagement events to do with with astronomy and science include:


    UK Astronomy Techmology Center (UK ATC)
    Royal Observatory
    Blackford Hill
    Edinburgh EH9 3HJ

    Email: olivia.jones-AT-stfc.ac.uk