I'm Fiona H. Panther, I'm a British/Kiwi astronomer working at the Australian National University, in Canberra, Australia.
I am a physicist and mathematician with an interest in astronomy. My expertise is primarily in microphysical astronomy: how processes that occur on the atomic and subatomic scale can influence what we observe on galactic and cosmological (whole-universe) size scales.
My interest in astronomy arose because I was unable to choose a single field of physics in which to concentrate. I am fascinated by particle physics, nuclear physics, and the behavior of matter in physical extremes, as well as the mathematics that underlies the physical world. More recently I have developed interests in understanding how to improve imaging of MeV gamma-rays with coded-aperture systems.
My PhD has focused on understanding the origin of antimatter in our Galaxy. Although primarily a problem in gamma-ray astronomy, explaining the origin of the immense number of positrons (anti-electrons) that annihilate in our Galaxy has implications for our understanding of nucleosynthesis, supernova rates, cosmic ray propagation, and Galactic chemical evolution.
Although I am primarily a theorist, most at home solving problems via computational methods or with good old-fashioned pen and paper, I am also an experienced observer. I am interested in optical spectroscopy, particularly integral field unit (IFU) data, and multi-object fiber spectroscopy. I am interested in using data from these systems to understand how supernovae are influenced by properties of their host galaxies, such as stellar population age, angular momentum and metallicity.
More recently, I have joined the International Gamma-Ray Astrophysics Laboratory (INTEGRAL) team working on data from the Spectrometer on-board INTEGRAL (SPI, pronounced 'spee'). I am interested in understanding the complex backgrounds produced in the SPI instrument, and the analysis of low signal-to-noise data where simple background subtractions are not tangible.
Aside from my research, I am also interested in developing software and data visualizations for astronomy applications. I enjoy volunteering my time to Mt Stromlo Observatory's excellent outreach program, and I have recently become a science mentor in the MSATT teaching telescope program. I give public talks several times a year (please contact me for more information). I also coordinate meetings of Mt Stromlo's growing high energy astrophysics group and the observatory-wide weekly journal club.