This website is no longer being updated. Please visit my new website.
I am an Astronomer studying galaxies in the Universe.
I am an Associate Professor in Astronomy and Physics at Haverford College, PA, USA, and until 30th September 2019 I am (20%) a Reader (Associate Professor) in Astronomy and Astrophysics at the Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation, University of Portsmouth, UK.
I am the Project Scientist for Galaxy Zoo and most of my research time is spent combining classifications from this project with other data to study galaxy evolution. I'm also the Spokesperson for the Sloan Digital Sky Survey ( SDSS-IV) - for my science I'm most interested in data from the MaNGA survey part of SDSS-IV.
In recent years I'm grateful for funding from a Google Faculty Research Award, SEPnet, The Leverhulme Trust, and The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation, and the University of Portsmouth Faculty of Technology Research Investment Fund.
You can follow me on Twitter @KarenLMasters, or read my science related blog posts.

Selected Recent Papers

For the most up-to-date list of papers please visit my ORCHID page:


Science Learning via Participation in Online Citizen Science, Masters et al. 2016, JCOM. In this work we discovered that a positive correlation between scientific content knowledge and active engagement in online citizen science projects. We interpreted this as citizen science acting as an "engine of motivation" for science learning.

Galaxy Zoo and ALFALFA: Atomic Gas and the Regulation of Star Formation in Barred Disc Galaxies, Karen Masters et al. 2012 MNRAS (arXiV:1205.5271). We used 2090 galaxies with both morphologies from Galaxy Zoo and data on atomic hydrogen content from the ALFALFA survey at Arecibo to study the links between atomic gas content and whether or not a galaxy hosts a bar. We found a clear anti-correlation between atomic gas content and likelihood of hosting a bar. You can read more about this work in this blog article, and look at the galaxies in the sample here.

The Morphology of Galaxies in the Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey, Karen Masters et al. 2011 MNRAS 418, 1055 (arXiV:1106.3331). A look at the small fraction of the 1.5 millon intermediate redshift galaxies being observed by the SDSS3 project BOSS which have Hubble Space Telescope images. A blog post about the work appears on the SDSS3 blog.

Galaxy Zoo: Bar Lengths in Nearby Disc Galaxies, Ben Hoyle, Karen Masters, Bob Nichol et al. 2011, MNRAS.
The results of a Portsmouth based Galaxy Zoo offshoot project in which Ben Hoyle developed an interface using Google Sky in which volunteers could draw the shapes and sizes of bars on Galaxy Zoo galaxies. Our main finding is that bars in redder discs are longer and redder than those in bluer discs. MNRAS 415, 3627 ArXiV link. Ben's Galaxy Zoo blog post about it..

Galaxy Zoo: Bars in Disk Galaxies, Karen Masters et al. 2011, MNRAS
The first results from Galaxy Zoo 2 on trends of the bar fraction with other properties of disk galaxies. ( ArXiv link). See my blog post about this work and this page has some example images for this project. It was the subject of a RAS press release, and got covered in Nature Research Highlights, The Economist, Astronomy Now, A&G, WIRED and other places online like World Science.

Galaxy Zoo: Red Spirals, Karen Masters et al. 2010, MNRAS
A look at the intrinsically red spirals (as red as a normal elliptical) found in the Galaxy Zoo project. Link...