Introducing Megan Bruck Syal

Megan Bruck Syal is a Postdoctoral Researcher at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), where she works with an interdisciplinary team of physicists and engineers on planetary defense problems. Specifically, she utilizes the Spheral adaptive SPH code (developed by J. Michael Owen, LLNL) to calculate asteroid response to deflection by both kinetic impactors and nuclear devices. Prior to joining LLNL, Megan completed her PhD and ScM in Geological Sciences and a ScM in Engineering at Brown University; her research involved high-speed instrumentation for impact experiments carried out at the NASA Ames Vertical Gun Range, paired with numerical simulations of planetary impacts. Megan continues to work on a range of planetary science problems, including impact vapor plume evolution and impact delivery of planetary materials. She received BA’s from Williams College in Astrophysics and Mathematics.

Introducing Edgard Rivera-Valentin

Edgard Rivera-Valentin is currently a Staff Planetary Scientist in the Department of Solar System Studies at the Arecibo Observatory in Arecibo, PR. Ed is the first Arecibeño to serve as a scientist at the observatory and among the counted few Puerto Ricans. His research interests focus on two aspects of astronomy: “How did we get here?” and “Are we alone?”. In his research, Ed uses numerical techniques along with observations to understand early solar system processes by way of impact craters. He additionally studies volatile stability and transport on planetary surfaces in search for habitable abodes beyond Earth.

Ed received a Bachelor’s degree in 2008 from Alfred University where he double majored in Physics and Mathematics and minored in Planetary Science, a minor which he helped establish at Alfred. After an internship at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in the summer of 2007, Ed was convinced that planetary science was what he wanted to study. He went on to earn his doctoral degree in Space and Planetary Sciences at the University of Arkansas in 2012. After 2 years as a Postdoctoral Research Associate at Brown University with Dr. Amy Barr, Ed joined the staff at the Arecibo Observatory. Ed now leverages his position at the observatory to be an advocate for under represented minorities in STEM and is actively involved in education and public engagement activities at the observatory.

Ed can normally be found on Twitter at @PlanetTreky. He also co-tweets through @AreciboRadar, the official twitter account of the Planetary Radar Group at the Arecibo Observatory, and through @NAICobservatory, the official account for the Arecibo Observatory.

Introducing Rachael Livermore

Rachael Livermore is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow at The University of Texas at Austin. Her research focuses on distant galaxies, studying how they evolve into the kinds of galaxies we see around us today and how galaxies in the early Universe influenced the environment around them. Her particular specialty is gravitational lensing, a byproduct of Einstein’s theory of General Relativity that causes light from distant galaxies to be distorted and – usefully – magnified when it passes by something with a lot of mass, like a galaxy cluster.

Rachael is originally from Plymouth, England, and was an accountant before realising that science is more exciting. She did her undergraduate work in Mathematics and Physics with Astrophysics at King’s College, University of London, before moving to the University of Sussex for a Masters in Astronomy. She obtained her PhD from Durham University in 2013 with a thesis on gravitationally lensed galaxies. She is also heavily involved in outreach and is the co-organiser of Astronomy on Tap ATX, a series of astronomy talks in the pub.

Rachael can normally be found on Twitter at @rhaegal

Introducing Angel Lopez-Sanchez

Angel a Spanish astrophysicist working at the Australian Astronomical Observatory (AAO) and the Astronomy, Astrophysics and Astrophotonic Department of the Macquarie University (MQ) in Sydney (Australia). His research is focused in the analysis of star formation phenomena in galaxies of the Local Universe, especially in dwarf starbursts and spiral galaxies. He uses a multiwavelength approach and hence he combines ultraviolet, optical, infrared, and radio data to characterize the physical and chemical properties of galaxies and get a better understanding of the physical processes than govern their nature and evolution.

He has large experience teaching and supporting undergraduate and PhD students and giving lectures and classes about Astronomy. Outreach is a very important part of his work as a scientist. As an active amateur astronomer he enjoys observing the sky with his eyes, binoculars, or small telescopes and taking astronomical images using his own equipment. This webpage contains a large compilation of my images that includes galaxies, nebulae, astronomical observatories, time-lapse videos, and even drawings and photos taken using amateur techniques. The majority of these images are hosted on his Flickr webpage.

Angel originally from the beautify city of Córdoba (Spain). He got his Physics Degree at the University of Granada in 2000 and his PhD Thesis at the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias / La Laguna University (Tenerife, Spain) in 2006. Between 2007 and 2010 he worked at the CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science (Australia Telescope National Facility), obtaining many radio and optical data of galaxies of the Local Volume. Part of his actual job is providing support to the Anglo-Australian Telescope.

He was the first Spanish astronomer hosting a blog only dedicated to Astronomy, El Lobo Rayado (here the English Translation using Google), which was created in early 2004. Since 2011 he also maintain a blog in English, The Lined Wolf, which is focused on publicising his scientific work and outreach activities in Australia. You can also find him on Facebook and Twitter.

Introducing David Sliski

David Sliski is currently a Telescope Engineer at the University of Pennsylvania where he will also be starting his Ph.D this fall. His work mainly focuses on the detection and characterization of
exoplanets. At Penn, David joined Prof. Cullen Blake’s group to help design, build, install and new fiber fed echelle spectrograph aimed at probing the NIR (800-900nm) to study the planet population of nearby M-Dwarfs. MINERVA Red, a 0.7m telescope installed at Mt. Hopkins (May 2015) and should begin commissioning this fall. Although the telescope is small, the hope is that with an high cadence observations, a stabilized spectrometer, and a photonic lantern used to eliminate modal noise, one should be able to achieve ~m/s resolution. This telescope and its design goals are very similar to the MINERVA collaboration, which uses the same telescopes, and design concepts; the only major difference is that MINERVA is targeting solar type stars in the eta earth catalog rather than nearby M-Dwarfs.

David’s past work focused on detrending Kepler data using a technique dubbed “Asterodensity Profiling”, which is the act of comparing the stellar density derived from the transit light curve to an independent measure. David Kipping (@David_Kipping), David’s former advisor and others have determined several causes for a potential difference between the two densities, most notably an eccentric orbit, a background blend, and TTVs. Understanding these effects allows the observer to back out effects which otherwise require additional follow up from RVs. In the era of Kepler, K2, Tess, and Plato, follow up resources will be scarce. The hope is that this technique can help astronomer identify the best ways to use our collective resources.

David will also highlight past projects such as DASCH, the Digital Access to a Sky Century at Harvard which aims to digitize 500,000+ glass plates taken over a century (1885-1992). Once digitized, this catalogue will create the longest baseline currently available to evaluate photometric variability of objects whose magnitude is greater than 17th in B band. While working at DASCH, David was responsible for launching the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics portion of the Smithsonian Transcription Center, which focused on transcribing old logbooks to aid in the digitization of DASCH. David is also collaborating with Derrick Pitts, Chief Astronomer at the Franklin Institute, to create a new lecture series where astronomers in the Philadelphia area will present their research to the general public in hopes of continuing to excited them about the wonders of the cosmos.