Research

My astrophysics research focuses on Local Group dwarf galaxies and what they have to say about cosmology.

Observations of Local Group dwarf galaxies

I observe dwarf galaxies of the Local Group (primarily satellites of M31 and the Milky Way) to try to understand their properties and histories. These observations include resolved star optical spectroscopy, deep imaging, and radio searches for neutral hydrogen (HI).

Image Credit: SDSS

Local Group dSph and Near-Field Cosmology

I compare the faintest known galaxies, the dwarf Spheroidals, to cosmological models like ΛCDM. Because these galaxies are so faint, they are dark matter-dominated, and provide some of the best windows into the nature of dark matter.

Image Credit: Aquarius Project

Using the SDSS to understand local dwarfs

I use the Sloan Digital Sky Survey and value-added catalogs like the VAGC and NASA-Sloan Atlas to place Local Group galaxies in a cosmological context.

Image Credit: SDSS

Code Development

I also work on a number of open-source software projects, particularly for science with Python. I highlight some of these below, but see my github repository page for a more complete list.

Astropy

Astropy is a community astronomy library for astronomy. I am on the coordinating committee and a major developer.

ERFA

An open-source project with the functionality of SOFA but with modern distribution and fully FOSS-compatible licensing.

Pymodelfit

A python package for fitting data to models, with a GUI interface based on Enthought Traits and Chaco.

Astropysics

A python package I wrote for various research needs. It's functionality is being subsumed into astropy, but it will remain until all of it is in astropy.

My Curriculum Vitae

PDF

Experience

  • Hubble Fellow, 2012-present

    Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA

    Marla Geha

  • Graduate Student Researcher, 2007-2012

    University of California, Irvine, CA, USA

    James Bullock, Elizabeth Barton

  • Honors Research Thesis, 2005-2006

    University of Puget Sound, Tacoma, CA, USA

    James Bernhard

  • NASA Space Grant Intern, Summer 2005

    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA, USA

    Michael Hecht

  • microEP REU, Summer 2004

    University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AK, USA

    John Shultz

Education

  • University of California, Irvine Irvine, CA, USA

    Ph.D., Physics and Astronomy, June 2012

    Advisor: James Bullock

    Dissertation: "Local Group Dwarf Galaxies in the LCDM Cosmology: Theory Meets Observations"

  • University of California, Irvine Irvine, CA, USA

    M.S., Physics and Astronomy, June 2008

  • University of Puget Sound, Tacoma, WA, USA

    B.S., Physics, Math, May 2006

Honors and Awards

  • Hubble Fellow, 8/2012-present
  • Fletcher Jones Fellow, 9/2011-6/2012
  • UC Irvine Graduate Dean's Dissertation Fellow, 6/2011 - 9/2011
  • UC Irvine School of Physical Sciences Faculty Endowed Fellow, 5/2011
  • Chambliss Astronomy Achievement Award, 217th AAS, 1/2011
  • Optical Society of America Art in Science Award [1], 11/2010
  • Publication Featured in Nature Research Highlights [2], 9/2008
  • GAANN Fellow, 6/2008-6/2011
  • Coolidge Otis Chapman Honors Scholar, 6/2006
  • Nominated member of Sigma Xi, 5/2006
  • Thomas Malcolm & Hilda Enden Jack Physics Scholar, 6/2005
[1]visualization later featured in news media incl. MSNBC, AFP, Science Daily, nature.com
[2]http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v456/n7220/full/456284f.html

Teaching and Outreach

  • COSMOS Teaching Assistant, 2007-2011

    Managed project groups and gave lectures to science-oriented summer camp for California high school students.

  • Public Lectures, UC Irvine Observatory, 2008-2012

  • UC Irvine Observatory Outreach Coordinator, 2006-2008

    Planned and executed nearly 100 outreach visits for K-12 schools, reaching roughly 3000 students.

  • Teaching Assistant, UC Irvine, Intro to Astronomy, 2008

  • Teaching Assistant, UC Irvine, Physics of Music, 2007

  • Teaching Assistant, UC Irvine, Intro to Astronomy, 2007

  • Teaching Assistant, UC Irvine, Astronomy Lab, 2007

  • Lab Assistant, Univ. of Puget Sound, University Physics, 2006

  • Lab Assistant, Univ. of Puget Sound, Waves & Optics, 2005

  • Lab Assistant, Univ. of Puget Sound, College Physics, 2005

Service and Committees

  • Astropy Coordinating Committee, 2011-present

    Member of 3-person planning board for project to create Python programming language library for astronomy.

  • Yale Galaxy Lunch Organizer, 2013-present

    Organize weekly lunch talk/journal club section for faculty, postdocs, and grad students with extragalactic interests.

  • Founder, Yale Organized Discussion of Astronomy, 2012-present

    Created weekly meeting or faculty, postdocs, and grad students to discuss recent results across Yale's subfields.

  • Yale Astronomy Colloquium Organizer, 2012-2014

    Organize colloquium speaker's schedule, introduce seminar speakers before their talks.

  • Associated Graduate Students of UCI Chief of Staff, 2011

    Representative on administrative committees, liaison to President.

  • UCI Graduate Council Representative, 2010-present

    Representative to UC Irvine Academic Senate committee on graduate student curriculum development.

  • Organizer for UC Irvine "READ" journal club, 2009-present

    Organized bi-weekly discussions of recent papers on ArXiv/astro-ph between graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, and faculty.

  • Co-Organizer, Astronomy Graduate Seminar, 2009-2010

    Organized weekly talks by graduate students and postdocs.

  • Founding Chair, UCI Physics Graduate Caucus, 2007-2010

    Created graduate student organization to provide peer advising and graduate student voice in departmental affairs.