Dr Tom Stallard

Associate Professor of Planetary Astronomy College Director of Postgraduate Research

School/Department: Physics & Astronomy, School of

Telephone: +44 (0)116 252 3589



I completed a BSc in Planetary Sciences from UCL in 1997 and completed a PhD in Planetary Astronomy working under the supervision of Professor Steve Miller at UCL in 2001 studying the aurora of Jupiter using ground-based telescopes. I remained at UCL as a post-doctoral researcher until 2007 expanding my ground-based investigations to include Saturn and Uranus. In 2007 I took an RCUK Fellow position at the University of Leicester becoming a lecturer here on the completion of this fellowship in 2012. I was promoted to Associate Professor in 2014.


My research focuses on the delicate interactions observed within the thin and transient layer at the top of giant planet atmospheres - and how this layer is wrought and wrung by two enormous and powerful systems - the underlying atmosphere and the surround magnetic environment. Each of these two systems pushes and pulls at the ionosphere resulting in a complex interaction where each fight for dominance. Our observations reveal this layer and from the twisted interactions we measure we can begin to understand how forces are driven from above and beneath - and how this energy exchanges and then flows back up and down into these surrounding regions.


(0) Stallard, T., Miller, S., Lystrup, M., Achilleos, N., Bunce, E. J., Arridge, C. S., . . . Drossart, P. (2008). Complex structure within Saturn's infrared aurora. NATURE, 456(7219), 214-217. doi:10.1038/nature07440

Stallard, T., Miller, S., Melin, H., Lystrup, M., Cowley, S. W. H., Bunce, E. J., . . . Dougherty, M. (2008). Jovian-like aurorae on Saturn. NATURE, 453(7198), 1083-1085. doi:10.1038/nature07077



Giant Planet ionospheres and thermosphere Infrared aurora observed from ground-based or space telescopes Magnetosphere-ionosphere-atmosphere coupling


I am currently module convenor on: PA2600c The Planets. I also teach on: FS0043 Waves and Matter PA1110 Mechanics NT2001 Astrophysics Astrochemistry and Astrobiology as well as 3rd and 4th year projects.

Press and media

I'm happy to discuss the giant planets (Jupiter Saturn Uranus and Neptune) space missions and telescope observations of these worlds interactions between planetary atmospheres and the surrounding magnetic field. I can also talk about planetary habitability and the potential for life within the solar system.


In 2019 I was awarded the Royal Astronomical Society Chapman Medal In 2018 as a memeber of the UK Cassini Team I was awarded the Sir Arthur Clarke Space Award for Academic Study/Research In 2018 I was awarded a HEA Senior Teaching Fellowship to highlight my leadership and mentorship in academia. In 2012 Awarded the title of 'Hoku Kolea' by the Mauna Kea observatories Hawaii for 'outstanding commitment to the volunteer program'
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