I’m Dr Jen Gupta, an astrophysicist who loves to talk about how awesome space is with anyone who will listen! I’m based in the Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation at the University of Portsmouth where I am a Senior Public Engagement and Outreach Fellow, in charge of the outreach and public engagement programme for the institute. I also work as a freelance science presenter and most recently co-presented Stranger Than Sci-Fi on BBC Radio 4 with Alice Fraser. I’m also one of the creators and hosts of the currently-dormant Seldom Sirius astronomy podcast. I have been known to perform comedy sets where I use astronomy to make people laugh. In 2017 I presented the BBC Tomorrow’s World Live series with Dr Hannah Critchlow, which went out on facebook and youtube. In my spare time I used to help organise the Winchester Science Festival. I also used to occasionally work at the Winchester Science Centre as a Planetarium Presenter.
I did my PhD at the Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics at the University of Manchester under the supervision of Professor Ian Browne. My research looked at active galactic nuclei (AGN) – galaxies that are emitting far more energy from their centres than can be accounted for by their stars. In particular I focused on a subset of AGN called blazars.
Over the last ten years I have interviewed British astronaut Tim Peake live on stage, performed astronomy-themed stand-up in front of 500 people, travelled to India to observe the skies with the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope, appeared on national TV and radio to talk about astronomy and science, driven around the eMerlin network of radio telescopes in a day, and delivered talks and workshops to tens of thousands of school children and members of the public.
I am British Indian and grew up in Winchester, attending Kings Worthy Primary School, St Anne’s Convent School and Peters Symonds Sixth Form College. In 2004 I moved to Manchester to study Physics with Astrophysics at the University of Manchester. In 2007 I spent the summer working at the Jodrell Bank Observatory as a research student and in 2008 I graduated with a first class MPhys (hons) degree. I started my PhD in the same year and was awarded my doctorate in 2012. I began working at the ICG a week before my viva and have been there ever since!
In 2016 I featured in one of 21 commissioned portraits of leading women by the Royal Astronomical Society. In 2015 I was Highly Commended in the Young Achievers category at the Asian Women of Achievement Awards.
I’m the younger sister of Dr Kat Gupta who does clever things with text and computers that I don’t understand.