Rebecca Bowler

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I am an Ernest Rutherford Fellow studying the formation and evolution of galaxies in the early Universe, in particular:

  • the robust identification of galaxies at cosmic dawn from multi-wavelength datasets on the degree scale
  • the importance of massive galaxies in the process of cosmic reionization
  • the prevalence and properties of dust in galaxies
  • the interplay of active galactic nuclei and galaxies in reionization

I use a variety of telescopes to investigate these topics. These include optical (Subaru) to near-infrared imaging (VISTA, Euclid) on the degree scale, with space-based imaging at high spatial resolution (Hubble, JWST) and sub-mm (ALMA) and radio (MeerKAT) to probe the dust obscured star formation.

I am passionate and committed to making physics and science accessible to all.  Looking around the average Physics department in the UK there is still work to be done to increase diversity, and it is everybody's responsibility to work towards a more inclusive community.



Ernest Rutherford Fellow January 2022- University of Manchester

Ernest Rutherford Fellow 2021-2022 Dept. of Physics, University of Oxford

Glasstone Research Fellow 2018-2021 Dept. of Physics, University of Oxford

Hintze Research Fellow Dept. of Physics 2015-2018 University of Oxford

Postdoctoral Research Assistant 2014-2015 Institute for Astronomy, University of Edinburgh

PhD Astronomy Institute of Astronomy, University of Edinburgh Supervised by Prof. James Dunlop and Dr. Ross McLure 2010-2014 
Title: The evolution of bright star-forming galaxies in the first billion years

MSci Natural Sciences: Experimental and Theoretical Physics 2006-2010 University of Cambridge

Non-stipendary affiliations (Oxford)

Junior Research Fellow New College 2018-2021 University of Oxford

Nicholas Kurti Junior Research Fellow Brasenose College 2015-2018 University of Oxford

Prizes and awards

Konigstuhl Colloquium Signature Speaker 2023, MPIA (Germany)

Henry Mosley Prize and Medal 2021, Institute of Physics (UK)

Tinsley Visiting Scholar 2020, University of Texas at Austin

Winton Award 2018, Royal Astronomical Society (UK) awarded annually for a postdoctoral fellow whose career has shown the most promising development

Block Award 2016, Aspen Centre for Physics (US) for a “promising young physicist” at the conference ‘The Reionization Epoch: New Insights and Future Prospects’.

Research interests

Below you can find links to several recorded talks about my research interests.  The first is a short (10 minute) contributed conference talk at the SAZERAC meeting.  The second is a seminar at the level of first year PhD students, while the third (the prize talk I gave at the RAS) was to a more general audience of RAS members (a little old now).

Contributed talk at the high-redshift SAZERAC conference (2021)

Seminar for 'Galaxy Fidelity' Lecture series (2021)


There is a lack of diversity within many UK Physics departments, be this diversity in ethnic backgrounds, gender, people with a disability and those from the LGBTQ+ communities, we are missing extraordinary talent and must work towards a more inclusive subject.  The reasons for the current are complex and intersectional, and I refer you to the many articles published by the IoP for further details.  

Fortunately there are things that everyone, but particularly schools and Universities, can do to work towards a more equitable Physics.  I find the concept of "science capital" useful in understanding why some people choose to pursue science while other equally qualified people do not.  

Despite being the "largest minority", there is still a lack of women working in physics.  Below are details of some of the outreach events I have been part of to encourage girls to study science:

Marie Curious A day of talks and workshops for girls aged 11-14 who are interested in seeing what STEM has to offer.  More information here

Big Questions in Astronomy Joint with the Museum for the History of Science, this (online in 2021) workshop is centred around a panel discussion with female researchers in Astronomy and Space Science.  More information here

Oxford Women in Physics Society The society reaches 100s of members of the department through fortnightly events and a mentoring scheme (I was president from 2016-2018).  More information here

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities

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