James MullaneyDr James Mullaney

Lecturer in Observational Astrophysics

Contact details




I am interested in the relationship between galaxies and the supermassive black holes that reside at their centers. From computer simulations, astronomers now believe that these black holes have played a significant role in shaping galaxies like our own Milky Way. As such, determining how galaxies and black holes interact is crucial to figuring-out why the Universe looks the way it does. One way I investigate this relationship is by exploring what causes black holes to consume gas and dust from their host galaxies. I do this by measuring the types of galaxies that contain these “rapidly growing” black holes. If we can identify the types of galaxies in which black hole growth preferentially occurs, then this will provide clues as to what processes trigger this growth.

The reason why identifying what causes black holes to grow is so important is because huge amounts of energy is released in the process. It is thought that this energy plays an important role in regulating the growth rates of galaxies by suppressing the formation of stars. One way this energy is transported from the black hole to the host galaxy is via powerful 1000km/s winds. As part of my research, I use some of the largest telescopes in the world to measure the strength and prevalence in these winds.

I have published over 60 journal papers, six of which have >100 citations. My current research team at Sheffield consists of three PhD students (Emmanuel Bernhard, Liam Grimmet and Lydia Makrigianni).


Physics and Astronomy MSci (2000-2004, The University of Nottingham)
Astrophysics PhD (2005-2008, Durham University)

Academic career

Leverhulme-funded PDRA (2008-2010, Durham University)
European-funded (FP7) fellowship (2010-2012 CEA-Saclay, France)
Leverhulme Early Career fellowship (2012-2013, Durham University)
Vice Chancellor’s fellowship (2013-2016, The University of Sheffield)
Lecturer (2016 – onwards, The University of Sheffield)

Departmental administration

Postgraduate admissions tutor for the Astronomy group.


Research funding (major awards)

Consolidated Grant for Sheffield Astrophysics, STFC, £1.2M (2015-2018, CoI)


Undergraduate taught modules (current)

PHY405 Galaxy Evolution
PHY101 Mechanics and Optics (Tutor)

Undergraduate projects

PHY480 Research project


Complete publications

Co-authorship of 60+ peer reviewed journal papers, including review paper

Complete list of publications is available via ADS database


Public Engagement I regularly provide astronomy talks to primary and secondary schools and local amateur societies.