Prof. Michael Watson
Department of Physics & Astronomy
University of Leicester
MA (Oxon.), MSc (Sussex), PhD (Leicester), FRAS, Professor of High Energy Astrophysics, University of Leicester & Head of X-ray and Observational Astronomy (XROA) Research Group; ESA's XMM-Newton Survey Scientist (1996-); Principal Investigator for the international XMM-Newton Survey Science Centre Consortium (1996-2013); ESA Astronomy Working Group (1996-2000); AstroGrid Lead Investigator for Leicester (2001-2009); STFC Astronomy Grants Panel (2010-2012); STFC Computing Advisory Panel (2010-2013); Chair of STFC DiRAC Oversight Committee; LSST:UK Consortium Board (2014-); Coordinator for the UK Team for ESA's Athena Mission (2014-).
Special interests: Space astronomy, high energy astrophysics, Galactic and extra-galactic X-ray source populations, X-ray surveys, AGN population studies, astronomical computing, large-scale scientific data processing and archives.
I believe the RAS still has a vital role to play in promoting the well-being of astronomy and geophysics for both the professional and amateur communities. Pressure on science funding has increased inexorably over the last 5-10 years to the extent that some important areas of astronomical research have already become marginalised and the UK’s status internationally has started to be eroded. The future of UK space astronomy in particular faces some new challenges due to reorganisation of responsibilities nationally with funding lines being largely transferred to the UK Space Agency. I am convinced the RAS must continue to play its part in protecting the health and vitality of astronomy. My background is in high energy astrophysics and space astronomy more generally, but I also have expertise in astronomical computing and large-scale data projects which is continuing with my participation in LSST: UK as a board member. I have wide-ranging experience in working with international space agencies (both ESA and NASA), both as a PI and in an advisory role, coupled with significant involvement in the UK research councils. Given this background I welcome the opportunity to make a strong contribution to the RAS, bringing in particular my 30+ years of experience of space astronomy which remains a key ingredient of current and future astronomy research.