Simon Vaughan

photoAssociate Professor

Contact details

Tel: +44 (0) 116 252 2074

Email: simon.vaughan (-at-

Office: Room G52, Physics & Astronomy building

Personal details

I have written a textbook - Scientific Inference: Learning from Data - published by Cambridge University Press, and from 2016 have been Programme Director for the Undergraduate Physics degrees (one of two in the role).

Teaching Leadership

I'm one of the two UG Programme Directors for the Physics & Astronomy department. My duties and responsibilities include:

  • Chair of the Physics department's Learning & Teaching Committee (LTC)
  • Member of College Academic Committee (CAC)
  • Member of the Student Staff Committee (SSC)
  • Member of the Mitigating Circumstances Panel
  • Lead writing of 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.
  • Liaising with/recruitment of external examiners
  • Chair of the Exams Panel and Exam Board meetings
  • Member of the Senate Student Discipline Committee


During the 2017/18 academic year was involved in the teaching of several modules:

  • PA1710 - Mathematical Physics 1.1 (module leader; instructor for units 4 and 5)
  • PA1720 - Mathematical Physics 1.2 (workshops, revision classes)
  • PA1900 - Experimental Physics 1 (computing workshops)
  • PA2720 - Statistical Physics (module leader, instructor for unit 1)
  • PA2900 - Experimental Physics 2 (computing and data handling sessions)
  • 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)
  • 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

  • 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

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 90 refereed papers, and received well over 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 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.

Share this page:

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.


For current students and general enquiries within UoL:

For Postgraduate Research enquiries:

For general enquiries outside UoL:

Student complaints procedure


DisabledGo logo

The University of Leicester is committed to equal access to our facilities. DisabledGo has a detailed accessibility guide for the Physics and Astronomy Building.