Elizabeth Tasker

I am a theoretical astrophysicist, specialising in the formation of stars and planets. 


Stars are born in cold clouds of gas known as the Giant Molecular Clouds. These stellar nurseries determine the rate stars are born, yet what controls their evolution is less clear. My research group models their formation in different environments, using the astrophysics simulation code Enzo. Enzo is known as a hydrodynamical, adaptive mesh refinement code. In more sensible terms, this means the code models the gas on a series of grids whose cell size changes depending on what resolution is required.  

My planet formation work focusses on understanding exoplanet diversity, through exploring the extensive data sets now available to construct models of individual processes and seeing how these change with planet properties. 


This video was filmed at Hokkaido University while I was an assistant professor in the Faculty of Science. The full video can be found here.


Curriculum Vitae



[2016 - ] Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), Institute for Space and Aeronautical Sciences (ISAS)
Associate Professor in the Division of Solar System Sciences

[2011 - 2016] Hokkaido University, Japan
Assistant/Associate Professor in the Department of Physics, Faculty of Science

[2009 - 2011] McMaster University, Canada
CITA National Postdoctoral Fellow

[2006 - 2009] University of Florida, USA
Theoretical Astrophysics Postdoctoral Fellow



[2006] University of Oxford, UK
D.Phil in computational astrophysics

[2002] Durham University, UK
M.Sci (Hons) Theoretical Physics




From 2012 - 2016, I taught two physics courses at Hokkaido University. These lectures covered core physics topics for first year undergraduates, including classical mechanics, vibrations, waves, optics, thermodynamics, electromagnetism and a touch of quantum mechanics.

Since most of my students were not native-level English speakers, my courses used keynote presentations that included many graphics and movies. I also used the clicker system for in-class questions (keeps students awake and allows me a 5 minute break!). Three or four times during the semester, we watched short movies and read science news stories to see physics beyond the first year syllabus.

I was delighted to be awards the Hokkaido University President's Award for Education in 2014, 2015 and 2016 and be listed as an Excellent Teacher for those last three years.

A research talk I gave at the Otaru University of Commerce in Hokkaido, Japan to students from mixed disciplines. 

Recent Journal Papers

    1. On the effective turbulence driving mode of molecular clouds formed in disc galaxies,  
      Jin, Keitaro; Salim, Diane M.; Federrath, Christoph; Tasker, Elizabeth J.; Habe, Asao; Kainulainen, Jouni T.
      MNRAS, 07/2017
    2. The language of exoplanet ranking metrics needs to change,
      Tasker, Elizabeth; Tan, Joshua; Heng, Kevin; Kane, Stephen; Spiegel, David; Brasser, Ramon; Casey, Andrew; Desch, Steven; Dorn, Caroline; Hernlund, John; Houser, Christine; Laneuville, Matthieu; Lasbleis, Marine; Libert, Anne-Sophie; Noack, Lena; Unterborn, Cayman; Wicks, June.
      Nature Astronomy, 02/2017
    3. Star formation and ISM morphology in tidally induced spiral structures,
      Pettitt, Alex R.; Tasker, Elizabeth J.; Wadsley, James W.; Keller, Ben W.; Benincasa, Samantha M.
      MNRAS, 07/2017