Planets form in cold discs of dust and gas around young stars like the sun. We know, however, that only a small fraction of the material in these protoplanetary discs ends up in planets; most of the disc is either accreted on to the star or blown away in winds or jets. The figure to the right shows a numerical simulation of disc clearing by photoevaporation.
Much of my current research looks at how protoplanetary disc physics shapes the formation of planetary systems. I have built detailed numerical models of how these systems evolve, and used high-performance computing facilities to run large numbers of models in order to make statistical predictions for the properties of both protoplanetary discs and exoplanets. With PhD student Alex Dunhill, I looked at how disc-planet interactions alter planetary orbits, particularly the planets' eccentricity. With PhD student Tom Hands, I am studying the formation and dynamics of compact multi-planet systems. Recently I have also begun to model the evolution of discs around binary stars, with the aim of understanding the formation and evolution of circumbinary planets such as Kepler-16b. Detailed discussion of these issues can be found in our recent review chapter in Protostars & Planets VI.