Introducing Brian Jackson

I am an assistant professor teaching astronomy in the Physics Department at Boise State University.

Before coming to Boise State, I was a postdoctoral fellow at the Carnegie Institution of Washington’s Dept. of Terrestrial Magnetism in Washington DC and before that, at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt MD.

I earned my PhD in Planetary Science from the University of Arizona‘s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory in Tucson AZ and my BS in Physics from Georgia Tech in Atlanta GA.

My research focuses primarily on orbital dynamics and transit observations of extrasolar planets, planets outside of our solar system. I also do some planetary science field work, notably on Death Valley’s Racetrack Playa and on terrestrial and Martian dust devils.

When I’m not chasing my  daughter around the house, I enjoy running around Boise and learning classical guitar.

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Introducing Beth Johnson

Beth Johnson is a graduate student in geology at San Jose State University in California. She is also the social media coordinator for the SETI Institute, where she shares not only the news, outreach, and photographs of the Institute’s work but curates a wide variety of astronomy, space, and planetary news from other sources. Her master’s research may be grounded in submarine volcanoes here on Earth, but she hopes to apply what she learns to cryovolcanoes in our solar system, particularly at Europa and Enceladus. Prior to her graduate studies, she completed her undergraduate work, also at SJSU, in physics with an emphasis in astrophysics. She worked on several research projects at the university, including looking for earthquake precursor signals in MgO and analyzing galactic evolution processes. She spent the summer of 2013 in an internship via CAMPARE (Cal Poly Pomona) at the SETI Institute, where she worked with Dr. Peter Jenniskens on NASA’s Cameras for Allsky Meteor Surveillance project (CAMS). She analyzed the data for numerous meteor tracks and helped find several new meteor showers. She presented posters on her research at both winter and summer AAS conferences in 2014. In her personal life, she is the wife of a Canadian network engineer/hockey player, the mother of an almost-teenager, and the guardian of five cats. She is passionate about science communication and education and can be found on many social media sites as planetarypan. She volunteers with the local Astronomy on Tap group to publicize and help host their monthly events. She recently joined the Weekly Space Hangout Crew and will be a regular on the show starting in October. She has ambitious plans to launch her own Twitch stream later this year.

Introducing Phil Massey

Phil Massey (@MassiveStarGuy) is an observational astronomer at Lowell Observatory, where he joined the staff in 2000.  Before that, he worked at the National Optical Astronomy Observatory, where he was the telescope scientist for the Kitt Peak 4-meter Mayall telescope. At Lowell, he’s served as the principal Investigator for the Large Monolithic Camera, the workhorse imager for Lowell’s 4.2-meter Discovery Channel Telescope.  He is also well-known for his observing and IRAF manuals, which have served as an introduction to optical CCD imaging and spectroscopic reductions for several generations of astronomers.  Phil also enjoys teaching, and teaches the occasional course at neighboring Northern Arizona University, where he serves as an adjunct.
Phil’s research interests include the study of massive stars (O-type, Wolf-Rayet, and red supergiants).  He and his collaborators use the nearby galaxies of the Local Group to study how the evolution of the most luminous and massive stars is affected by environmental factors such as metallicity.  In this work he primarily uses optical photometry and spectroscopy from ground- and space-based telescopes, with occasional forays into the ultraviolet and near infrared.  Paradoxically, Phil hates travel but loves observing from remote mountain tops, particularly Las Campanas Observatory, from which he studies stars in the Magellanic Clouds.
He’s published more than 300 papers, conference proceedings, and abstracts over the years, and hopes to make it to 1000.  He’s privileged to work with some great collaborators, including @KathrynNeugent and @emsque.  He also enjoys hiking and backpacking with his family, particularly in the Grand Canyon.

Introducing Rachael Alexandroff

I am  Rachael Alexandroff, an NSERC postdoctoral fellow in observational extragalactic astronomy with a joint appointment at the Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics and the Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics.

My research interests focus primarily on extragalactic astronomy. In particular, I am interested in exploringfeedback from actively accreting supermassive black holes (quasars) using a variety of multi-wavelength data in the radio to the X-ray. I previously identified the largest catalog of optically-selected obscured quasars in the early Universe and have been using this catalog to study how quasars effect their surroundings from the local environment to the entire host galaxy. In particular, I search for observational signatures of quasar feedback to help constrain models of galaxy evolution. You can read more here.

In particular, I love to solve interesting problems using a combination of large datasets and targeted observations to elucidate the underlying physics. By constructing models and digging out fundamental correlations we can come to understand the physical principles that govern the myriad disparate observations we are trying to analyze.

I obtained my graduate degree on July 18, 2017 from Johns Hopkins University’s Department of Physics and Astronomy working for Prof. Nadia Zakamska. Previously, I obtained a bachelor of arts in astrophysical sciences from Princeton University.

I am also very passionate about astronomy education and outreach and am president emeritus of the Physics and Astronomy Graduate Student Outreach group at Johns Hopkins University. I have spoken to groups of 500+ audience members at Astronomy on Tap Toronto and given talks at local libraries, high schools and community centres.

Introducing Rebecca Larson

Rebecca is a PhD student at the University of Texas at Austin studying some of the first galaxies that formed in the Universe. She wasn’t always interested in astronomy and claims to have ended up here ‘by accident’. Out of high school she joined the US Air Force and worked in the Intelligence Community as an Arabic Linguist for six years. During this time, and after leaving the military, she took as many college classes as possible. By the time she graduated with her Bachelor’s degrees she had attended 9 separate colleges and universities, and pursued 4 different degrees. Now she is halfway through her PhD in Astronomy and an advocate for non-traditional students.
When she’s not doing research she spends her time organizing Astronomy on Tap ATX (@AoTATX) and is the President of the Student Veterans Association (@TexasSVA).

 

Introducing Kathryn Neugent

Kathryn Neugent is a PhD Candidate in Astronomy at the University of Washington working with Dr. Emily Levesque. She has additionally been working as a research associate with Phil Massey at Lowell Observatory for the past 10 years. Alongside Emily and Phil, Kathryn studies massive stars (stars greater than 10 solar masses) and their evolution in the Local Group Galaxies (primarily M31, M33, and the Magellanic Clouds). Her current projects include identifying and characterizing binary Red Supergiants and their B-type star companions, understanding the evolution of Yellow Supergiants as both pre-and post- Red Supergiant objects, and directly determining the masses of Wolf-Rayet + O star binary systems. As an observational astronomer she travels the world observing at telescopes such as Gemini in Hawaii and Las Campanas in Chile. While not observing she enjoys backpacking, photography, and hanging out with her boyfriend, cat and corgi in sunny Seattle. You can stalk her more at her website: kathrynneugent.com.

Introducing Thomas Connor

I am Thomas Connor (@Thomas_Connor), a postdoctoral fellow at the Observatories of the Carnegie Institution for Science. This fall, I will be moving down the road in Pasadena to JPL / Caltech as a NASA Postdoctoral Fellow. Previously, I earned my PhD from Michigan State University. As an observational astronomer, I primarily work in the X-ray and optical regimes. I have varied scientific interests — I have worked on numerous nearby galaxies and the most distant quasar yet found. Much of my scientific work has focused on understanding the evolution of clusters of galaxies, utilizing the fantastic Hubble imaging of the CLASH program or my own observations taken on the Magellan telescopes. I am also involved in several active lines of research investigating the properties of quasars in the first billion years of the Universe.
During my week at the helm of Astrotweeps, I will be on-site at Las Campanas Observatory, one of the premier locations for ground-based observations, talking both about life as an observational astronomer and sharing the experience as a total solar eclipse passes over the observatory. The eclipse, which will be visible just before sunset from Buenos Aires, Argentina to La Serena, Chile, and out into the Pacific Ocean, will occur on July 2. Tens of thousands of visitors are expected to arrive just to the little stretch of desert that La Silla and Las Campanas Observatories call home, not to mention everywhere else in the path of the totality.
When not working, I like to spend time outside: hiking, climbing, and camping, and I have recently gotten back into running after a decade of sloth.