Introducing Tom Rice

Tom Rice is a second-year astronomy PhD student at the University of Michigan. His research focuses on the environments in which stars and planets are born, and he’s currently working on creating the first catalog of star-forming molecular clouds throughout the Milky Way. In the past, he’s studied how the infrared brightness of young, disked stars changes over time, and for his PhD thesis plans to study the role of nitrogen astrochemistry in planetary formation, with his advisor Ted Bergin.
Tom is an Oregon native and attended Harvard as an undergrad. As a child of deaf adults (CODA), Tom grew up speaking American Sign Language (ASL) alongside English bilingually, and aspires to develop astronomy curricula in ASL for education and outreach to Deaf youth. Tom tweets at @tomr_stargazer when not astro-tweeping, is an avid stargazer and occasional guitarist, and only listens to the Mountain Goats.

Calling All Astrotweeps – Sign up for the first half of 2015

Demitri, Niall, and I would like to thank both the astrotweep volunteers (past, current, and future for 2014) and followers alike who’ve made @astrotweeps a success this year. It’s been great fun to see this idea we hatched at the 2014 AAS Hack Day take on a life of its own. We hope you’ve enjoyed as much as we have getting a peak each week into the lives of different astronomers and planetary scientists. We’d like to keep this going into 2015.

If you’re interested in taking over the account for a week and haven’t participated before, now’s your chance. Today we’re formally announcing the signup for the first half of 2015. You can see the current schedule with open spots here and  sign up to volunteer on our registration page.  If you already are an astrotweeps veteran and would like to have another go, please do sign up again. The more the merrier, though we’ll give some slight preference to people who didn’t have a turn in 2014.

Spread the word and let’s make 2015 an awesome year for @astrotweeps!





Introducing Michael Aye

Michael Aye is a postdoctoral scholar at the Earth, Planetary and Space Sciences Department at the University of California, Los Angeles. He has wandered all over the wavelengths and works currently on far infrared thermal radiation data taken by the Diviner Lunar Radiometer Experiment of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. Before he was doing his Ph.D in the UK, working on gamma-ray detection at the H.E.S.S. telescope system. He then went on to work on the visual wavelengths DAWN camera system in Germany at the Max-Planck-Institute for Solar System Research. The next gig was in Switzerland, where working on Europe’s first planetary laser altimeter for the BepiColombo system working at 1064 nm only marginally distracted him from the cheese fondues and the famous chocolate. After that he went to UCLA, his current position, but until the end of this week(!), we will know if the next gig working on UV camera systems will work out, so the whole Twitterverse is asked to cross fingers for the ongoing pursuit to cover all the wavebands.
Scientifically speaking, his main tasks currently are recalibrating the whole 1.5 TB dataset of the lunar radiometer without messing anything up and understanding how the allegedly ‘dead’ planet Mars can be so hyperactive during spring with CO2 gas jets popping out all over the polar areas from underneath that seasonal CO2 ice cap.
He tweets under the handle @michaelaye, often about science, tech and science politics, including open access and science funding.

Introducing Laura Watkins

This week features Laura Watkins, a postdoc at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore.  Laura’s research focuses on the dynamics of stars in globular clusters in the Milky Way. By comparing observations against dynamical models, she learns about their structures and how they formed and evolved. She also models the dynamics of the satellite systems of the Milky Way and Andromeda in order to understand their origins and to weigh the host galaxies. Laura is part of the HSTPROMO collaboration, using HST proper motion measurements to study all sorts of weird and wonderful astrophysical objects.
Laura was born and raised in the UK.  She did her PhD at the Institute of Astronomy in Cambridge and then spent 3 years as a postdoc at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg before moving to STScI a year ago. When not being an astronomer, Laura loves ballroom and latin dancing. She also likes reading, baking and travelling. She tweets at @laurawatkins_.

Introducing Karen Masters

Dr. Karen Masters is an astronomer studying extragalactic astronomy at the Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation, University of Portsmouth. She uses information from large surveys of the sky to search for clues about how galaxies formed and evolve over cosmic time. This includes information on the shapes and types of galaxies provided by citizen scientists via the Galaxy Zoo project ( Dr. Masters has been a member of the Galaxy Zoo science team since 2008, and Project Scientist since 2013.

Karen is also a member of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey – the survey which provided the original images for Galaxy Zoo. She is Director of Outreach and Public Engagement for SDSS as well as having leading role in the MaNGA (Mapping Nearby Galaxies at APO) survey which has just recently started observations on the Sloan telescope.

Karen normally tweets about her adventures in astronomy research as @KarenLMasters.