Simon Vaughan

photoAssociate Professor

Contact details

Tel: +44 (0) 116 252 2074

Email: simon.vaughan (-at-

Office: Room G52, Physics & Astronomy building

Personal details

Professional bodies

Teaching Leadership

Since 2016 I have been one of the two Academic Directors for the School of Physics & Astronomy. My duties and responsibilities include:

  • Chair of the School Learning & Teaching Committee (SLTC)
  • Member of College Learning & Teaching Committee (CLTC)
  • Member of the Student Staff Committee (SSC)
  • Member of the Mitigating Circumstances Panel
  • Lead - Annual Departmental Review (ADR)
  • Member - IOP Directors of Teaching & Learning network
  • Jointly responsible for annual curriculum planning, programme development, timetable planning, etc.
  • Liaising with/recruitment of External Examiners
  • Chair of the Board of Examiners and Panel of Examiners
  • Member of the Senate Student Discipline Committee


During the 2019/20 academic year I teach on the following modules:

  • PA1710 - Mathematical Physics 1.1 (module leader; instructor for units 4 and 5)
  • PA1900 - Experimental Physics 1 (computing workshops)
  • PA2720 - Statistical Physics (module leader, instructor for unit 1)
  • PA2900 - Experimental Physics 2 (computing unit, data handling unit)
  • PA3900 - Third Year Project (supervisor)
  • PA4602 - Scientific Data Analysis (module leader)
  • PA4900 - Fourth Year Specialist Research Project (supervisor)
  • PA4440 - Fourth Year Literature Review (supervisor)
  • plus academic and personal tutorials with Y1-4 students


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

  • The First Swift Intensive AGN Accretion Disk Reverberation Mapping Survey, Edelson R., et al., 2019, ApJ, 870, 123 DIO: 10.3847/1538-4357/aaf3b4
  • X-ray time lags in PS1211+143, Lobban A., et al., 2018, MNRAS, 476, 225, DOI: 10.1093/mnras/sty123
  • Modelling the effect of absorption from the interstellar medium on transient black hole X-ray binaries, Eckersall, A., Vaughan S., Wynn G. A., 2017, MNRAS, 471, 1468, DOI: 10.1093/mnras/stx1652
  • 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

Past and current PhD students

  • Lucy Heil (2011) - Amplitudes Of X-ray Variability In Accreting Black Holes
  • William Alston (2014) - Probing the central engine of Active Galactic Nuclei using time delay studies
  • Alexander Eckersall (2018) - The Accretion Discs of Transient X-ray Binaries


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 100 refereed papers, and received well over 6,000 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 was 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.

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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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