News and events

Dr. Joanne Pledger

School of Physical Sciences and Computing

Leighton Building, LE308

+44 (0) 1772 89 6411

As an active researcher, lecturer and public engagement catalyst Joanne's job at UCLan has certainly been diverse since her arrival in 2012. She teaches across the mathematics, astrophysics and physics degree courses both on campus and via distance learning. Her passion for enthusing children about science grew from her time as a researcher at the American Museum of Natural History where she delivered school workshops. This is something she has continued at UCLan working with the Ogden Trust.

Full Profile

In 2007 Joanne was awarded a First Class Honours in Astrophysics from the University of Liverpool where her final year project focused on the link between gamma ray bursts and supernovae.

Joanne went on to complete her PhD at the University of Sheffield investigating "Wolf-Rayet Stars as Progenitors of Type Ib/c Core-Collapse Supernovae" with her supervisor Paul Crowther.

Following the award of her PhD, Joanne was offered a Hilary Lipsitz Research Fellowship at the American Museum of Natural History in New York which she began in 2010. Here Joanne extended her research on supernova progenitors using unrivalled optical photometric data from the Hubble Space Telescope. During her time at the Museum Joanne was invited to present her research at conferences in Japan, Sydney and Germany.

Joanne also taught on the astronomy after-school courses which were ran as part of the Museum's educational ethos. This was the beginning of her enthusiasm for making science relevant and accessible to school children and the general public and is something she has continued since her arrival at UCLan in late 2012.

Joanne spends a significant amount of time connecting with local schools and developing outreach activities with the PhD students at the Jeremiah Horrocks Institute. Over the past year Joanne has ran numerous workshops in schools and at Alston Observatory, taken part in "Meet the Expert" and "Café Scientifique" events and ran a week-long summer school for Year 10 students who were interested in astronomy. Joanne's dedication to outreach and public engagement saw her connect with nearly 700 members of the public last year. This was acknowledged by the Ogden Trust who recruited her as a science officer earlier this year.


Certificate in Higher Education Teaching Toolkit, University of Central Lancashire, 2014
PhD in Astrophysics, The University of Sheffield, 2010
MPhys (Hons) Astrophysics, The University of Liverpool, 2007


UCLan Public Engagement Catalyst Grant, awarded June 2013
Institute of Physics Public Engagement Grant, awarded May 2013
American Astronomical Society Small Research Grant, awarded March 2011


Shara, Michael M.; Bibby, Joanne L.; Zurek, David; Crowther, Paul A.; Moffat, Anthony F. J.; Drissen, Laurent (2012/13) The Vast Population of Wolf-Rayet and Red Supergiant Stars in M101. I. Motivation and First Results. The Astronomical Journal, Volume 146, Issue 6, article id. 162, 13 pp.

Bibby, Joanne Louise and Crowther, P. A. (2012) The Wolf-Rayet population of the nearby barred spiral galaxy NGC 5068 uncovered by the Very Large Telescope and Gemini. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 420 (4). pp. 3091-3107. ISSN 00358711

Bibby, Joanne Louise and Crowther, P. A. (2010) A Very Large Telescope imaging and spectroscopic survey of the Wolf-Rayet population in NGC 7793*. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 405 (4). pp. 2737-2753. ISSN 00358711

Crowther, P. A. and Bibby, Joanne (2009) On the massive star content of the nearby dwarf irregular Wolf-Rayet galaxy IC 4662*. Astronomy and Astrophysics, 499 (2). pp. 455-464. ISSN 0004-6361

More publications


Joanne's research interests lie in the field of massive stellar evolution. In particular she is interested in the death of massive stars as core-collapse supernovae. Her large survey of eleven nearby, star-forming galaxies utilises world-leading telescopes including Gemini and the Very Large Telescope to produce one of the most focused and detailed studies in the field. The project aims to catalogue as many progenitor (pre-supernova) stars as possible to build up a statistical sample from which Joanne and her collaborators can study the individual properties and host environments of the progenitors. Her work will contribute to our understanding of stellar evolution and ultimately prove, or disprove, current theoretical predictions.

Teaching Activities

Joanne is module tutor for a number of the first year BSc (Hons) Astronomy distance learning courses, including "An Introduction to Astrobiology", and is a subject mentor on the third year "Origins" module. She delivers MA1861 Introduction to Statistics & Probability to the first year Mathematics students, which includes some of the techniques she uses in her own research. Joanne has also delivered first year Maths tutorials and supervised third year BSc projects during her time at UCLan.

External Activities

Member of the Institute of Physics
Research associate at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, USA 


Joanne attends international conferences on both massive stellar evolution and supernovae where she regularly presents her research on the investigation of Wolf-Rayet stars as the progenitors of Type Ib/c supernovae. She also is very active in public engagement and attends conferences focused on making science more accessible to schools and the general public.



Athena Swan Self Assessment Team, University of Central Lancashire
The Ogden Trust
Institute of Physics, Schools Outreach Support Network

Professional Accreditation:

Member of the Institute of Physics
Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society
Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy