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Institute of Applied Data Science



Dr Phil Bull receives prestigious early-career ECR Starting Grant 2020 award

4 September 2020

Dr Phil Bull
Dr Phil Bull

Dr Phil Bull, Lecturer in Cosmology and a member of IADS, receives prestigious early-career ECR Starting Grant. Phil is one of three researchers from Queen Mary University of London who have been awarded highly competitive European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grants to support ground-breaking scientific research. Queen Mary awardees for the most recent round of ERC Starting Grants 2020 are: Dr Phil Bull, Lecturer in Cosmology (School of Physics and Astronomy); Dr Tessa Baker, Royal Society University Research Fellow (School of Physics and Astronomy), and Dr Alexandre de Mendoza Soler, Lecturer in Bioinformatics (School of Biological and Chemical Sciences). Phil and Tessa will receive a total of over £3 million to help them start their own research groups.

In his project, Phil will look to map out the 3D structure of the universe using data from two cutting-edge radio telescopes, HERA and MeerKAT.

Whilst a great deal of work has gone into designing methods to analyse the data from these telescopes already, current approaches are not yet accurate enough. Phil said: "At the moment all experiments trying to make these observations are severely limited by systematic effects, worsened by the extremely high dynamic range between the cosmological signal and many other sources of radio emission. Even tiny calibration errors can cause huge artefacts in the data that make it extremely difficult to pick out the target signal."

For this research Phil will develop a novel statistical framework, called "Total Calibration", to address existing limitations with the analysis of radio data and produce more precise maps of the universe. The new maps, which would cover 13 billion years of cosmic history, could be used to answer some of the most pressing questions in cosmology, such as how fast space is expanding, what the physical properties of Dark Energy are, and how the first stars and galaxies lit up the Universe.

Phil added: "This project will help us map out the 3D structure of the Universe over an unprecedentedly large amount of cosmic time – extending from around 400,000 years after the Big Bang until the present day, some 13.8 billion years later. Using these maps we will be able to generate the most robust, statistical measurements of the large-scale structures in the universe that have ever been made using radio data."

More information about the ERC Starting Grants can be found here:


Updated by: Michal Filus