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Dr Joanne Pledger

Senior Lecturer in Astrophysics
School of Natural Sciences

Dr Joanne Pledger is a senior lecturer in Astrophysics at UCLan teaching on the on-campus and distance learning degree programs. She is research active with a focus on the evolution of massive stars, in particular the death of massive stars as supernovae, and is a member of the Stellar Astrophysics research group. Joanne is also passionate about public engagement and widening participation which she continues at UCLan working with the Ogden Trust and other groups. Joanne believes that science should be accessible to all, irrelevant of background and aims to enthuse and inspire young children and encourage them to engage with science.

Dr Joanne Pledger is currently the module leader for the introductory Astronomy module ‘The Structure of the Universe’ taught on campus. Joanne also contributed to several other on campus and distance learning modules, for example as a project supervisor for BSc and MPhys projects. As a fellow Advance HE (formerly Higher Education Academy), with D2 qualification, Joanne is committed to a positive and effective learning experience. As an Ogden Science Officer between 2013-2018, Joanne has played a key role in the Public Engagement of the Jeremiah Horrocks Institute. She has continued her passion for public engagement by taking a lead role in their “Astronomy & the Arts” project, working with colleagues to help bring Astronomy to the public in unique and exciting ways. Following her arrival at UCLan in 2012, Joanne was responsible for re-opening Alston Observatory to the public and school groups and this site now host a state-of-the-art 0.7m telescope, the Moses Holden Telescope. Joanne has supervised post-graduate students studying in her area of expertise and remains research active, presenting her work at national and international conferences. Her research focus on core-collapse supernova, looking for the progenitors and studying their environments. She has obtained data from world-leading telescopes such as the ESO’s Very Large Telescope, the South African Large Telescope and the Hubble Space Telescope.

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 joined UCLan in 2012 where she has been responsible for the design of several undergraduate modules and has also supervised under- and post-graduate students. Joanne has also taken on a lead role in public engagement within the Jeremiah Horrocks Institute, re-opening Alston Observatory to the general public and school, sitting on the Institute of Physics Schools Outreach Support Network, working with the Ogden Trust to promote STEM subjects in local schools and leading the departments "Astronomy and the Arts" program.