Introducing Ira Thorpe

Ira Thorpe (@IraThorpe) is an astrophysicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. Ira’s research focus is the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA), a space-based observatory of gravitational waves that will extend our capabilities in this exciting new area of astrophysics. Sometimes called the “Hubble for Gravitational Waves”, LISA will observe merging massive black holes in the early universe, the capture of compact objects by massive black holes, millions of close compact binaries in the Milky Way, and perhaps signals that are entirely unexpected. LISA was recently approved as a new mission by the European Space Agency and is expected to have a significant NASA contribution. Ira serves as the lead US scientist for the NASA effort.

Born and raised in the mountains outside Santa Fe, New Mexico, Ira studied Mechanical Engineering and Physics at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, PA before entering the Physics graduate program at the University of Maryland. While at UMD, Ira began a graduate internship at Goddard working with the nascent LISA project. After moving to The University of Florida to complete his Ph.D., Ira returned to Goddard as a postdoc and later converted to a position in the federal civil service. Ira lives with his wife and three young boys in the suburbs of Washington, DC. Any time that is not covered by science or parenting will typically find Ira running, cycling, or hiking.

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Reintroducing JJ Eldridge

JJ Eldridge (@astro_jje) is a theoretical astrophysics who studied for their PhD at the University of Cambridge in the UK. Then worked as a post-doc in Paris, Belfast and then returned to Cambridge. In 2011 they became a lecturer at the University of Auckland, New Zealand.

Their research interest involve stars (especially binaries!), galaxies, supernovae and study these across the Universe, from our own Sun to those at the edge of the observable Universe. They are co-PI on the Binary Population and Spectral Synthesis (BPASS) code that was created to facilitate their research.

JJ is a passionate and effective teacher all levels of undergraduate and postgraduate study. They also work to increase how equitable and inclusivity of academia.

They are also a hoopy frood who loves science fiction in all forms (books, TV series, movies and computer games) and they also always know where their towel is.

 

Introducing Stephanie Juneau

Stephanie Juneau is an associate astronomer at NOAO (National Optical Astronomy Observatory) headquartered in Tucson AZ. After growing up in Quebec, Canada, she moved to the United States to pursue a PhD in astronomy at the University of Arizona, studying the connection between supermassive black holes and their host galaxies across cosmic time. Following her PhD, she moved to Paris in France to work at CEA-Saclay (Commissariat de l’Energie Atomique). She spent the first year as a postdoc and then transitioned to a staff position at the same institute for a total of about 5 years in France. Despite excellent cheese and wine, she then moved back to Tucson, AZ and joined NOAO and her current position in 2016. Stephanie’s work continues to focus on unveiling the history of giant black holes and galaxies, but with a new twist combining data science and astronomy as part of the NOAO Data Lab (datalab.noao.edu). Ongoing and upcoming large samples of several millions of galaxies have inspired her to put the black hole-galaxy question in the larger context by considering the large-scale structures of the universe. She is a member of the DESI (Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument) and Euclid projects, which will allow us to make the most comprehensive 3D maps of the Universe by measuring distances to tens-to-hundreds of galaxies and quasars, and thus reveal clues about Dark Energy and other cosmological quantities.

Besides work and a few astronomy outreach projects, Stephanie likes to stay active with rockclimbing, hiking, camping (living in Arizona may not be a coincidence), and also enjoys visual arts such as painting, drawing, and engraving. She dreams of combining her scientific and artistic interests more closely. She will talk about black holes, galaxies, large galaxy surveys including the challenges that come with conducting and distributing them, and how to put it all together in the big picture. There are also two outreach events coming up this week so Tweeps will get a tour behind the scene as she prepares to inspire teenagers, and the general public.

is an associate astronomer at NOAO (National Optical Astronomy Observatory) headquartered in Tucson AZ. After growing up in Quebec, Canada, she moved to the United States to pursue a PhD in astronomy at the University of Arizona, studying the connection between supermassive black holes and their host galaxies across cosmic time. Following her PhD, she moved to Paris in France to work at CEA-Saclay (Commissariat de l’Energie Atomique). She spent the first year as a postdoc and then transitioned to a staff position at the same institute for a total of about 5 years in France. Despite excellent cheese and wine, she then moved back to Tucson, AZ and joined NOAO and her current position in 2016. Stephanie’s work continues to focus on unveiling the history of giant black holes and galaxies, but with a new twist combining data science and astronomy as part of the NOAO Data Lab (datalab.noao.edu). Ongoing and upcoming large samples of several millions of galaxies have inspired her to put the black hole-galaxy question in the larger context by considering the large-scale structures of the universe. She is a member of the DESI (Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument) and Euclid projects, which will allow us to make the most comprehensive 3D maps of the Universe by measuring distances to tens-to-hundreds of galaxies and quasars, and thus reveal clues about Dark Energy and other cosmological quantities.

Besides work and a few astronomy outreach projects, Stephanie likes to stay active with rockclimbing, hiking, camping (living in Arizona may not be a coincidence), and also enjoys visual arts such as painting, drawing, and engraving. She dreams of combining her scientific and artistic interests more closely. She will talk about black holes, galaxies, large galaxy surveys including the challenges that come with conducting and distributing them, and how to put it all together in the big picture. There are also two outreach events coming up this week so Tweeps will get a tour behind the scene as she prepares to inspire teenagers, and the general public.

Introducing Christa Van Laerhoven

Christa is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of British Columbia
(UBC). She’s from a small town just a couple hours east of Vancouver,
BC. She did her Bachelors in Physics and Astronomy at UBC, then did
her PhD in Planetary Sciences at the University of Arizona. She does
orbital dynamics, or, as she likes to call it “orbital shenanigans.”
She investigates how orbits change over long periods of time and how
that can be used to tease out interesting things about a planetary
system. In particular, she is interested in what the Kuiper Belt can
tell us about the history of our Solar System, and in how planetary
systems go unstable (or avoid going unstable). In her spare time she
works with the Yukon Center of the Royal Astronomical Society of
Canada (rasc.ca). As a result of that collaboration, this week she
will be on a flight to see the Aurora Borealis.

Christa tweets as @K04PB2B. Her twitter handle is the Minor Planet
Center (MPC) packed designation for the Kuiper Belt object 2004 PB112,
which orbits 4 times in the time it takes Neptune to orbit 27 times.

Introducing Coel Hellier

Coel Hellier is a Professor of Astrophysics at Keele University in the UK, working on extrasolar planets.   After undergraduate study at the University of Oxford and a PhD at University College London he was then a Hubble Fellow at the University of Texas at Austin before moving to Keele.

In 2004 Keele joined the WASP consortium (Wide Angle Search for Planets) to search for transiting exoplanets.  Professor Hellier leads the team which built and now operates the WASP-South camera array, hosted at the South African Astronomical Observatory. Over the last decade WASP has become the most productive of the ground-based transit searches with over 140 discoveries, including many that are prime targets for characterisation with the Hubble Space Telescope and the imminent James Webb Space Telescope.

Coel posts about exoplanets at https://wasp-planets.net/ and tweets as @WASPplanets.

Introducing Bella Boulderstone

Bella Boulderstone is a PhD student currently working in the University of Southampton. She works on Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN) and their dusty tori. She graduated from Lancaster University in 2014 with an MPhys in physics with particle physics and cosmology. She decided after that she liked doing degrees so much she’d get another master’s so studied at Queen Mary University of London and got an MSc in astrophysics a year later. Bella’s first master’s project was working on Dark Matter Halos of galaxies and their density profiles and her second was working on the orbital evolution of Triton (Neptune’s largest moon), she also has a soft spot for magnetospheric physics in the Solar System.

Bella is a dual UK/US national and therefore enjoys both American Football and Cricket. She enjoys listening to podcasts and considers herself a feminist. She tries to do a lot of outreach because it reminds her why she likes doing what she does.

Introducing Larry Nittler

 

Larry Nittler is a staff scientist in the Dept. of Terrestrial Magnetism of the Carnegie Institution of Washington. He is a cosmochemist and planetary scientist whose research interests span stellar evolution, nucleosynthesis, interstellar and interplanetary dust, meteorites, and the formation and evolution of planets. He earned a BA in Physics from Cornell University in 1991 and a PhD in Physics from Washington University in St. Louis in 1996. He has been on the Carnegie staff since 2001, following a postdoc at the Carnegie and two years as a staff scientist at NASA’s Goddard Spaceflight Center. His laboratory research focuses on isotopic and mineralogical properties of microscopic extraterrestrial materials including presolar grains in meteorites, interplanetary dust particles and spacecraft-returned samples, including solar wind and comet Wild 2 samples returned by the Genesis and Stardust missions, respectively. He also performs spacecraft-based remote-sensing geochemical research on planetary bodies. He led the analysis of X-ray fluorescence data for the Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous mission, which orbited asteroid Eros in 2000-2001, and for the MESSENGER mission, which orbited Mercury from 2011-2015. He also served as Deputy Principle Investigator for MESSENGER. He is on the Science Team for the ESA-JAXA BepiColombo Mercury mission, to be launched in 2018, and is a Participating Scientist on JAXA’s Hayabusa2 asteroid sample return mission. He received the Nier prize of the Meteoritical Society in 2001 and became a Fellow of the same society in 2010. Asteroid 5992 Nittler is named in his honor. In addition to his scientific research, Larry is a jazz pianist and composer who performs frequently with his soul-jazz group Dr. Nittler’s Elastic Soultastic Planet. He lives in Washington DC with his wife, physicist Rhonda Stroud, and their daughter and two cats.