Dr Emily Brunsden

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I am a Lecturer in the Department of Physics specialising especially in Astrophysics. I am the Director of Astrocampus - a teaching and outreach observatory at the University of York. My research interests include the spectroscopy of pulsating stars and higher education in physics and astrophysics. I am the current Year 3 Tutor, Head of Student Liaison in the department and I coordinate the staff-student committee.


  • Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice, University of York, UK
  • PhD 'The Music of the Stars', University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand
  • Grad. Dip. Tch. (Sec) Bethlehem Tertiary Institute, Tauranga, New Zealand
  • BSc (Hons) University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand

Departmental roles

  • Astrocampus Director
  • Year 3 Tutor
  • Head of Student Liaison



  • Lecturer for Stage 1 Mapping the Universe module
  • Lecturer for Stage 1 Optics module component
  • Lab Project Coordinator for Stage 1 Astrophysics 
  • Lecturer for Planetary Science module component
  • Lecturer for Stage 3 Radio and Infrared Astronomy module
  • Laboratory supervisor for Astrophysics in Stage 3 Advanced Astrophysical Laboratory

Learning and Teaching Philosophy

My enthusiasm for education roots from a personal value that the process of knowledge acquisition and development is a social and co-operative activity. This philosophy has motivated my academic and educational work to share my passion of physics and astronomy. I subscribe to an individual-centred view of learning where positive relationships are key in developing successful teaching and learning strategies, including the engagement of students. I support the use of technology to enhance the delivery and interactive nature of learning whilst maintaining a human perspective. I approach physics as an interactive and interdisciplinary subject grounded in our everyday experiences and with possibilities beyond our own current comprehension.

Other teaching

Example Final Year Projects

  • 'The Sky is Falling' - Studies of Meteors using long exposure photography – BSc
  • 'Observing Variable Stars using a Remote Observatory' - Using a remote telescope in Spain to observe variable stars– BSc
  • 'Song of a Star' - The spectroscopic analysis of a γ Doradus star -MPhys (This project can involve primary data collection from a research telescope in New Zealand)
  • 'Classifying Stellar Pulsations From Space' - using the Keplerspacecraft data to investigate frequencies in variable stars -MPhys
  • 'Planet Hunting- Pushing Telescopes to the limit' - observing planetary transits with small telescopes. -MPhys

Research Student Opportunities

I offer self-funded Masters by Reasearch (MScR) projects in asteroseismology. Please enquire for further details.



Summary of Expertise

  • Asteroseismology of A-F type stars
  • High-resolution spectroscopy of stars
  • Astronomy, astrophysics and physics teaching and outreach

Asteroseismology is the study of pulsations in stars. Pulsations occur in most types of stars, in most times of their lives, but one type of pulsation, in some classes of star, offers something special. The pulsations in γ Doradus stars are g-modes, where the restoring force is gravity. The physical origin of the pulsations means the pulsations propagate very deep into the stellar interior, probing the core. The characterisation of the pulsations thus allows us to determine key properties of the stellar interior such as the size of the core and the interior density. The g-modes in γ Doradus stars not only probe the depths of the stars, but they also provide information on the evolution of stars which are born just a bit more massive and hotter than the Sun.

To achieve measurements of all the above, massive efforts have been made from the ground and from space. Observations are made in one of two ways-from measurements of the changing amount of light emitted from the star (photometry) and from studying the Doppler shifts in the light (spectroscopy). My research focuses primarily on the latter involving hundreds of nights of time on a variety of international telescopes to characterise the pulsations of A-F type stars.


Full publications list

  • Brunsden, E.; Pollard, K. R.; Wright, D. J.; De Cat, P.; Cottrell, P. L.: "Frequency and mode identification of γ Doradus from photometric and spectroscopic observations", MNRAS, 475, 3813 (2018)
  • Brunsden,E.;Pollard, K. R.; Cottrell, P. L.; Uytterhoeven, K.; Wright, D. J.; De Cat, P. “The classification of frequencies in the γ Doradus/δ Scuti hybrid star HD 49434”. MNRAS, 447,2970 (2015)
  • Davie, M. W.; Pollard, K. R.; Cottrell, P. L.; Brunsden, E.; Wright, D. J.; De Cat, P. “Spectroscopic Pulsational Frequency and Mode Determination of the γ Doradus Star HD 189631”, PASA, 31, (2014)
  • Sódor, Á.; De Cat, P.; Wright, D. J.; Neiner, C.; Briquet, M.; Lampens, P.; Dukes, R. J.; Henry, G. W.; Williamson, M. H.; Brunsden, E.; et al. “Extensive study of HD 25558, a long-period double-lined binary with two SPB components”, MNRAS, 438, 3535 (2014)
  • Brunsden E., Pollard K. R., Cottrell P. L., Wright D. J., De Cat P. "Spectroscopic Pulsational Frequency Identification and Mode Determination of Gamma Doradus Star HD 12901", MNRAS, 427, 2512 (2012)
  • Brunsden E., Pollard K. R., Cottrell P. L., Wright D. J., De Cat., Kilmartin P. M. "Spectroscopic Pulsational Frequency Identification and Mode Determination of Gamma Doradus Star HD 135825", MNRAS, 422, 3535 (2012)
  • Utterhoeven K., Mathias P., Poretti E., Rainer M., Martin-Ruiz S., Rodriguez E., Amado P. J., Le Contel D., Jankov S., Niemczura E., Pollard K. R., Brunsden E., et al. "The Gamma Doradus CoRoT target HD 49434. I. Results from the ground-based campaign" A&A, 489, 1213 (2008)

External activities


Director of Astrocampus

Astrocampus is a hub for astronomy teaching and outreach at the University of York. The observatory houses multiple optical, solar and radio telescopes and related equipment used for teaching in the undergraduate programme. Astrocampus is open to the public and schools through organised events. For more information on the outreach aspects of the site please see Astrocampus. For more technical information see an overview of our facilities.

For regular updates on local and international astronomy news - follow @astrocampus on twitter. 

Public Lectures 

I strive to promote science in the community as a social and positive activity. Towards this, I regularly give public lectures on a variety of topics. Some examples of past titles include:

Syzygy - An Astronomy Podcast

Syzygy is about the latest breakthroughs in astronomy- what is out there, how we know about it and what it really means. No prior astronomy knowledge required!

We discuss topics such as planets in other galaxies, dark matter and how to find out about the interiors of stars.

You can see our syzygy website  or on itunes.

Emily Brunsden

Contact details

Department of Physics
University of York
YO10 5DD

Email: emily.brunsden@york.ac.uk

Phone: +44 (0) 1904 322931

Room: P/C/014