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Dr Karen Aplin

Dr Karen Aplin

Dr Karen Aplin
BSc. Hons, PhD, FInstP

Associate Professor

Area of research

Space Science

Office 2.34
Queen's Building,
University Walk, Clifton BS8 1TR
(See a map)

+44 (0) 117 42 83371


I am an interdisciplinary physicist with expertise in innovative instrumentation as applied to problems in space and atmospheric science. I have a particular interest in electrical effects and measurements.


I joined Bristol University in August 2018, having previously been Head of Physics Teaching Laboratories at Oxford University, and before that a Research Physicist at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory's Space Science Department. I have a PhD in atmospheric physics instrumentation from the Department of Meteorology at the University of Reading, an undergraduate degree in Physics and Philosophy from Durham University, and a music diploma from Trinity College London.

I am also a Visiting Professor at the Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering, Bath University.

I am currently recruiting research students to work on a range of projects. If you have a strong background, normally defined as an expected or actual first class integrated Masters (or Bachelors plus Masters) degree in Physics, Engineering or a similar discipline, and research interests that overlap with mine, then I am interested in hearing from you. Please indicate which areas of my research programme you would like to work on when you contact me - you can get a flavour of this by looking at my publications. Most of the funding I have access to is for UK-based students only.


I currently convene the popular fourth year Advanced Space Systems course, and lecture the Sensors part of the third year Sensors, Signals and Control unit. I supervise and assess student projects including the major 4th year industrial group project (AVDASI). I am External Examiner for two Open University courses in Physics and Space Science. In my former role at Oxford I established and led the Physics Department's first group industrial project scheme, which significantly modernised the course. I remain interested in the role of laboratory teaching in physics and engineering.

I am also committed to outreach and give regular talks at schools, scientific societies and STEM events. I run a space weather station, measuring solar radiation, natural radioactivity and cosmic rays at Snowdon Summit with a quasi-real-time data display. (This station is currently offline because of the COVID-19 pandemic).




  • novel instrumentation for space and atmospheric deployment
  • electrical measurements
  • planetary analogue experiments
  • ionisation in gases
  • history of science and technology



Department of Aerospace Engineering

Other sites

Research Groups

Recent publications

View complete publications list in the University of Bristol publications system


Dr Aplin currently teaches 3 courses:

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