Simon Vaughan

photoAssociate Professor

Contact details

Tel: +44 (0) 116 252 2074


Office: Room G52, Physics & Astronomy building

Personal details

  • BSc (Hons)
  • PhD (Leicester)

I obtained a BSc from the University of Southampton in 1997 and a PhD from the University of Leicester in 2001. I held postdoctoral research positions at the Institute of Astronomy, University of Cambridge (2000-2003), and the University of Leicester (2003-2007), before joining the academic staff at Leicester in 2007. I was promoted to Reader in 2013 (renamed Associate Professor in 2016).



I'm the Programme Director (Head of Teaching) for the Physics department. Among other things this means I am:

  • Chair of the Physics department's Learning & Teaching Committee
  • Member of College Academic Committee
  • Member of the Student Staff Liaison Committee
  • Member of the Mitigating Circumstances Panel
  • Co-author department reports such as the Annual Departmental Review (ADR)
  • Member of the IOP Directors of Teaching & Learning network
  • Jointly responsible for annual curriculum planning, programme development, timetable planning, etc.
  • Charged with liaising with external examiners
  • Chair of the Exams Panel meetings


During the 2016/17 academic year I'm involved in the teaching of several modules:

  • PA1710 - Mathematical Physics 1.1 (module leader; teach multiple integrals, probability)
  • PA1720 - Mathematical Physics 1.2 (workshops, revision classes)
  • PA1900 - Laboratory Physics 1 (lead computing workshops)
  • Tutorials with Y1-4 students
  • PA2250 - Scientific Inference (module leader)
  • PA3920 - Third Year Pair Project (supervisor)
  • PA4480 - Advanced Core Physics 1 (module leader)
  • PA4312 - Further Scientific Inference (course leader - part of PA4480)
  • PA4970 - Fourth Year Specialist Research Project (supervisor)
  • PA4440 - Fourth Year Advanced Study Project (supervisor)


As part of my research I often develop software tools for data analysis. Where possible I make the more useful ones publicly available. See my Github page.


Some recent papers

  • False periodicities in quasar time-domain surveys. Vaughan S., et al., 2016, MNRAS, 461, 3145. DIO: 10.1093/mnras/stw1412
  • Evidence for changes in the radiative efficiency of transient black hole X-ray binaries. Eckersall A. J., Vaughan, S., Wynn, G. A., 2015, MNRAS, 450, 3410. DIO: 10.1093/mnras/stv739
  • X-ray time delays from the Seyfert 2 galaxy IRAS 18325-5926. Lobban, A. P.; Alston, W. N.; Vaughan, S., 2014, MNRAS, 445, 3229. DOI: 10.1093/mnras/stu1888
  • Discovery of a ~5 Day Characteristic Timescale in the Kepler Power Spectrum of Zw 229-15. Edelson, R.; Vaughan, S.; Malkan, M.; Kelly, B. C.; Smith, K. L.; Boyd, P. T.; Mushotzky, R., 2014, ApJ, 795, 2. DOI: 10.1088/0004-637X/795/1/2
  • The iron K line profile of IRAS 18325-5926. Lobban, A. P.; Vaughan, S., 2014, MNRAS, 439, 1575. DOI: 10.1093/mnras/stu002
  • X-ray time delays in the narrow line Seyfert 1 galaxy PG 1244+026. Alston, W. N.; Done, C.; Vaughan, S., 2014, MNRAS, 439, 1548. DOI: 10.1093/mnras/stu005
  • Black Holes in Short Period X-ray Binaries and the Transition to Radiatively Inefficient Accretion. Knevitt, G., Wynn, G., Vaughan, S., Watson, M., 2014, MNRAS, 437, 308. DIO: 10.1093/mnras/stt2008
  • The flux-dependent X-ray time lags in NGC 4051. Alston W. N., O, Vaughan S., Uttley P. 2013, MNRAS, 435, 1511. DOI: 10.1093/mnras/stt1391
  • Quasi-Periodic Oscillations and broadband variability in short magnetar bursts. Huppenkothen D, Watts A. L., Uttley P., van der Horst A. J., van der Klis M., Kouveliotou C., Gogus E., Granot J., Vaughan S, Finger M. H. 2013, ApJ, 768, 87. DOI: 10.1088/0004-637X/768/1/87
  • Kepler observations of rapid optical variability in the BL Lac object W2R1926+42. Edelson R., Mushotzky R., Vaughan S, Scargle J, Gandhi P., Malkan M., Baumgartner W., 2013, ApJ, 766, 16. DOI: 10.1088/0004-637X/766/1/16


My research includes the study active galactic nuclei (AGN)gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) and black hole X-ray binariesin our Galaxy. My particular research interests include probes of strong gravity, time series astronomy, Bayesian data analysis in astronomy, and dust-scattering from GRBs (I discovered the first known example of the latter phenomenon in 2004).

I've published more than 85 refereed papers, and received nearly 5,000 citations to date. I have extensive experience with data from ESA's Cornerstone X-ray mission XMM-Newton (including being PI or Co-I on several "Large Programmes"), NASA's Great Observatory Chandra, NASA's RXTE and the joint US-UK-Italy mission Swift as well as many previous high-energy astronomy missions. I've been awarded guest observer time as PI on all these missions and am a member of a Working Group and Science Team for future ESA mission Athena.

One of my research areas is astrostatistics, especially time series analysis. I've published several papers on the use (and misuse) of statistical analysis in astronomy, and have published an undergraduate textbook about using statistical reasoning in physics called Scientific Inference: Learning from Data (Cambridge University Press).

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Contact Details

Tel.: +44 (0)116 252 3506
Fax: +44 (0)116 252 2770

Department of Physics & Astronomy,
University of Leicester,
University Road,
Leicester, LE1 7RH,
United Kingdom.


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