Introducing Tyler Nordgren

Tyler Nordgren is a Professor of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Redlands. For over a decade he has worked with the National Park Service to turn the national parks into the single largest source for public science and astronomy education in the world. His popular science book “Stars Above, Earth Below: A guide to astronomy in the national parks,” reveals what visitors to America’s national parks can observe in their dark night skies. For the upcoming 2017 eclipse he is helping the NPS prepare a campaign of “Go for the Sun, Stay for the Stars.” His newest book, “SUN MOON EARTH: The History of Solar Eclipses from Omens of Doom to Einstein and Exoplanets,” released in 2016 to excellent reviews, describes the vast array of social and scientific influences eclipses have had throughout history. Many of the color illustrations in this and his previous books include vintage-style “travel posters” he designed to help the public learn about and see the astronomical wonders in the sky – ranging from solar eclipses to the Milky Way and geologic features similar to those found on other worlds. In 2012, NASA’s Curiosity rover joined Spirit and Opportunity on Mars, each carrying sundials, or “Marsdials” which he helped design through his science and art. Dr. Nordgren gives public talks and multimedia programs across the country about what every American can expect to experience for this year’s All-American total solar eclipse. This will be his fourth total solar eclipse, his first, in 1979 at the age of nine, was the last total solar eclipse to be visible from the continental United States.

Introducing Jessie Christiansen

Dr. Jessie Christiansen is a staff scientist at the NASA Exoplanet Science Institute at Caltech. She searches for, studies, and catalogues extrasolar planets – planets orbiting other stars. Her main research focuses on using the thousands of exoplanets found by the NASA Kepler mission to determine how common planets similar to the Earth might be throughout the Galaxy, and preparing to do the same with TESS. 

Introducing Héctor Vives-Arias

Héctor Vives-Arias (@DarkSapiens) obtained his PhD in Physics at the University of Valencia, Spain, using gravitational lenses to study both the structure of quasars and the distribution of dark matter subhaloes. He is currently a postdoc at the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC), where he works with ALMA observations of the active galactic nucleus in NGC 1068 to try to understand the structure and kinematics of the dust and molecular gas surrounding its center.
In his last year as an undergrad he got a summer grant at the IAC, where he analyzed the distribution and velocity of the gas in several nearby active galactic nuclei by working with near infrared integral field spectroscopy data from the SINFONI instrument at the VLT. For his Master’s thesis in Valencia, however, he switched to gravitational lens systems in which quasars were multiply imaged by foreground galaxies. Continuing this work on this PhD thesis, he used observations of the Einstein Cross in the optical and mid infrared (from the CanariCam instrument at the Gran Telescopio Canarias) to determine the size and temperature profile of the accretion disk of the quasar by studying the gravitational microlensing in the system, and also to estimate the amount of substructure in the dark matter halo of the lens galaxy that would produce the non-microlensed flux ratios between the quasar images. He also stayed for about a year at the University of Manchester, where he learned to work with radio interferometry data. There, he processed VLA observations of another lens system in order to measure the flux ratios between the multiple images, and to also determine the size of the radio emitting region.
He is currently working on a study of a dozen quadruply lensed systems to estimate the abundance of dark matter subhaloes from the flux ratios between the quasar images in observations of their narrow line regions, radio cores, and dusty tori, while also analyzing ALMA data of nearby active galactic nuclei to study those dusty tori directly in his recently started postdoc at the IAC.
Despite his research focus on active galaxies and dark matter, his scientific interests are much broader than that, and he always tries to keep learning as much as he can about many different fields. He has a passion for science communication that has helped him remain motivated in the low moments of academic life, and he regularly enjoys explaining science on Twitter, blog articles, radio programs, podcasts, and public talks. Other hobbies include archery, drawing, and 3D animation and rendering.

Introducing Quan-Zhi Ye

Quan-Zhi Ye obtained his PhD in astronomy at the University of Western Ontario. He is currently a postdoc at Caltech/IPAC working on solar system observations with the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF). His research interests include small bodies of solar system such as asteroids, comets and meteoroids.

Besides his day(night)-time work, he enjoys doing stargazing and playing string music. As a Chinese native he also regularly engage in public outreach in Chinese languages. He has translated two books into Chinese and has given dozens of lectures and presentation across the country.

Introducing Ward Howard

Ward Howard is a PhD candidate in physics and astronomy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He researches the impact of stellar activity on the detection and habitability of exoplanets around nearby stars by measuring their optical flare rates and energies using data from the Evryscope, an ultra-wide survey of the entire visible sky every two minutes. The Evryscope has produced millions of high-cadence, multi-year stellar light-curves making feasible the long-term monitoring of nearby stars for superflares, flare rates, and starspot activity. He also works with Robo-AO, the first autonomous laser guide-star adaptive optics system, improving image quality for faint targets, particularly for follow-up of the faintest Kepler planetary candidates.

Ward grew up in High Point, NC and was initially inspired to study astronomy by the friendly and enthusiastic staff of the Jamestown, NC Cline Observatory. In 2015, Ward received a BS in physics and mathematics from Union University in Jackson, TN. As an REU student at Baylor’s Center for Astrophysics, Space Physics, and Engineering Research, he studied protoplanetary disk evolution. He enjoys good books (esp. science fiction and fantasy), coffee, physics outreach, and running/hiking.

Introducing Sara Mazrouei

Sara Mazrouei is a PhD candidate in planetary geology at the University of Toronto. Her thesis focuses on the cratering rate on the Moon. She is a science team member on the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter’s Diviner team. Sara received her MSc. from York University, where she studied rocks on asteroid Itokawa using data from the Japanese Hayabusa mission. In between her master’s and PhD studies, Sara worked at the European Space Agency, calibrating radio science data from the Venus Express.

Introducing Simon Porter

Simon Porter (@ascendingnode) is a Research Scientist at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado. He is a Co-Investigator on NASA’s New Horizons extended mission to encounter the cold classical Kuiper Belt Object (KBO) 2014 MU69. On the mission, he focuses on the small satellites of Pluto, determining the orbit of 2014 MU69, and the other KBOs that New Horizons is passing along the way. This summer, he is supporting the stellar occultations of MU69s, in South Africa, aboard SOFIA, and in Patagonia. In addition to mission work, he studies the orbital and tidal dynamics of other binary and triple KBOs and Centaurs.

Simon is originally from Burlington, Ontario, Canada, and grew up there, Oxfordshire, and Tennessee. He received a BS in Physics from the University of Alabama in Huntsville, and was a undergrad Space Grant intern at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. He received his PhD in Astrophysics from the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University, and was a Predoctoral Fellow at Lowell Observatory. Simon enjoys hiking, aerospace history, and identifying obscure aircraft/rockets/spacecraft.