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Astrophysical Fluid Dynamics and Nonlinear Dynamics

Professor Nigel Weiss FRS (1936-2020)

Nigel Weiss, who died earlier this week after a fall at his home, was born on 16 December 1936, in South Africa. He was educated at Hilton College, Natal, then Rugby School and Clare College Cambridge. He began his research career studying seismic tremors, supervised by Edward Bullard, but switched to the study of magnetohydrodynamics. After a spell at Culham Laboratory, during which time he pioneered the use of stable numerical codes for solving MHD problems, he was the first to demonstrate the mechanism of flux expulsion by rotating eddies. He then came to Cambridge as a Lecturer in DAMTP, and a Fellow of Clare. He became a world authority on the physics of sunspots, and mechanisms driving the 22-year solar cycle. He made important contributions to the study of the nonlinear dynamics of convection, and led a long-term programme to understand the interaction of compressible convection and magnetic fields. He became a Professor at Cambridge in 1987 and was elected to the Royal Society in 1992. He served as President of the Royal Astronomical Society from 2000-2002, and received the Society's highest honour, the Gold Medal, in 2007. Apart from his academic work, he was a member of the National Gallery Scientific Consultative Group from 1996-2012.

Nigel's cheerful and generous approach to his subject will be much missed by his many former students and colleagues, both in Britain and around the world. He leaves his wife Judy, a son and two daughters and five grandchildren.


Centre for Mathematical Sciences, home of DAMTP and DPMMS


About the Group

The group carries out research into a wide range of topics involving astrophysical fluid dynamics and nonlinear dynamics. Specific astrophysical interests include the dynamics of astrophysical discs, planetary formation and evolution, extrasolar planetary systems and stellar magnetohydrodynamics (particularly dynamo theory, magnetoconvection and the physics of sunspots). More information about the group's research projects is available here. The Atomic Astrophysics group maintains a separate website. The group is part of the Cambridge Exoplanet Research Centre, which involves researchers from several departments at the University of Cambridge.

The group's recent publication list and the most cited scientific publications written by group members are updated regularly and give an overview of our research activities.




(Oct 2019) We welcome our new postdoc Hongping Deng, new PhD student Callum Fairbairn, and Masters intern Remy Larue.
(Aug 2019) The group bids farewell to postdoc William Bethune, who is taking up a position at the University of Tuebingen.
(May 2019) Congratulations to Janosz Dewberry and Hayley Allison for successfully defending their PhD theses! We bid them farewell and wish them well in their new positions, respectively at the Tsung-Dao Lee Institute, Shanghai and the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, Potsdam.
(Apr 2019) Congratulations to Joey Paris for a successful PhD defence.
(Mar 2019) Congratulations to Cleo Loi for a successful PhD defence. She will be continuing research with the group under her new position as a Junior Research Fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge.
(Oct 2018) We congratulate Roman Rafikov on his promotion to Reader!
(Oct 2018) Welcome to the new PhD students Lorenzo Perrone and Nicolas Cimerman!
(Sept 2018) The group bids farewell to postdoc Yufeng Lin who is taking up a permanent position at SUSTech in Shenzen.
(Apr 2018) The group welcomes new postdoc Girjesh Gupta.
(Jan 2018) A hearty congratulations to Helen Mason, who has been awarded the 2018 RAS Annie Maunder Medal for Outreach!
(Oct 2017) The group bids farewell to postdoc Jean Teyssandier, who is leaving to take up a position at Cornell University. We welcome new PhD students Chris Hamilton, Antranik Sefilian, Roger Dufresne, Philip Leung and Alexander Lozinski, and new postdoc William Béthune.
(Sep 2017) A special conference in honour of Prof. Mike Proctor's retirement will be held at DAMTP on the 11th-12th of September. We thank Profs Mike Proctor and Helen Mason, who will also be retiring shortly, for their contributions to solar research and wish them well in their retirement.
(Aug 2017) The group bids farewell to postdocs Antoine Riols and Rob Teed, who are leaving to take up positions in Grenoble (IPAG) and Glasgow.
(July 2017) We congratulate John Ross on graduating after a successful thesis defence. Well done and all the best!
(Nov 2016) Applications are invited for Postdoctoral Research Associate positions in our group, with a closing date of 31 December 2016.
(Oct 2016) The group welcomes new PhD students Loren Held and Elliot Lynch, and new staff member Roman Rafikov who has been appointed to the position of University Lecturer in Astrophysics.
(Oct 2015) The group welcomes new PhD students Hayley Allison, Janosz Dewberry and Shyeh Tjing Loi.
(Oct 2014) The group welcomes new Postdocs Andrew Hillier, Antoine Riols-Fonclare, Robert Teed & Jean Teyssandier, as well as new PhD students Sargam Mulay, Joseph Paris, Valeria Shumaylova & Marcela Vitti and new intern Quentin André.
(Oct 2013) The group welcomes new postdoc Adrian Barker and new PhD students Vanessa Polito, Johnathan Ross and Riccardo Vanon.
(Sept 2013) We congratulate Gordon Ogilvie on being appointed to a Professorship of Mathematical Astrophysics.
(Oct 2012) Dr Henrik Latter has been appointed to a University Lectureship in Astrophysics in DAMTP.
(Oct 2012) Dr Sijme-Jan Paardekooper has begun a Royal Society University Research Fellowship.
(Oct 2012) Professor Michael Proctor, FRS has been announced as Provost-elect of King's College.

Shearing box simulations of gravitational instability in disks (Antoine Riols)

PhD Applications

We welcome applications for PhD studentships. The group, together with the Atomic Astrophysics Group, has allocated funding from STFC for astrophysics research studentships that are available from October 2020. Studentships are normally allocated around Easter. However, depending on circumstances, some may be advertised at other times. To find out if you are eligible and for further information regarding the application procedure and funding please check out

Some possible projects in astrophysics and potential supervisors are listed on our research pages. Potential supervisors may also be contacted individually. Information relating to research projects undertaken by current PhD students can be found on the group members page where there are also links to personal websites where available.

The above links provide coverage of research activities within the group but please do not hesitate to contact via email Virginia Mullins (Group Secretary) or one of the staff members listed if you have any other queries or require further information regarding research opportunities within the group.