Introducing Peter Williams

Peter K. G. Williams is an American astronomer at the Harvard/Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, MA. His recent research has centered on the magnetic fields of very low-mass stars and brown dwarfs, which were originally expected to be weak and unimportant but turn out to be surprisingly strong and structured. In fact, these magnetic fields are quite similar to those of the Solar System planets, even driving powerful aurorae. Peter’s studies are mostly based on radio-wave observations, and there’s a lot of excitement in the community about using new radio telescopes to probe the magnetic fields of exoplanets themselves. Along with his astrophysical research, he’s very interested in improving the ways that scientists write code, analyze their data, and communicate their results.

Peter is an early-career scientist; he got his PhD from UC Berkeley in 2012 and has been working at Harvard as a postdoc for three years. He currently lives in the Cambridge area and grew up around there, too. Normally he tweets as @pkgw.


Introducing Ivy Wong

Ivy Wong is an Australian astronomer working as an Australian Research Council’s Super Science Fellow in Perth at the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) hosted by the University of Western Australia. Unfortunately, even though she’s a Super Science Fellow, she doesn’t get a cape… She studies how galaxies start and stop forming stars, grow supermassive black holes and how galaxies have come to look like they do today. Her plans are to use the new telescopes being built in Western Australia to help her figure out the answers to some of these questions. You can also help Ivy with her research as a citizen scientist. Check out and help her find black holes in distant galaxies!

Ivy received her PhD from the University of Melbourne in 2008. She then worked at Yale University and CSIRO (Sydney) before moving to Perth and ICRAR. Ivy can normally be found at @owning_ivy.

Introducing Toby Brown

Toby Brown is a PhD candidate at the Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing, Swinburne University, Melbourne. Originally from the UK, Toby graduated with a masters degree in astrophysics from the University of Liverpool and Liverpool John Moores University. Toby’s research focuses on the nearby galaxies of the Local Universe. He uses multi-wavelength observations to understand the relationships between observed galaxy properties and the galaxy environment. In particular he makes use of large scale, extragalactic surveys in order to study the open issues surrounding the gas content, structural trends, and the star formation potential of local galaxies in the field, group, and cluster environments. On the side, Toby is a keen outreacher and has been trying to explain the Universe through many public talks, articles, and (occasional) radio broadcasts. Toby can be found the rest of the year at @AstronomyBrown.

Introducing Erin Ryan

Erin Ryan is a research scientist at University of Maryland working at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. She is one of the few telescope jockeys in the solar system exploration division at Goddard content with using telescopes both on the ground and in space. She currently studies comets and main belt-ish asteroids in an effort to understand the reservoirs of water in our solar system, and how water might have been transported into the inner solar system by migrations of small bodies over time.

Erin received her bachelor’s degree in astronomy from the University of Arizona in 2002, and then went to the Spitzer Science Center for three years before starting her PhD at the University of Minnesota where she graduated in 2011. Erin has been at Goddard since 2012, first as a NASA Postdoctoral Program Fellow and now as a soft money funded scientist through University of Maryland. Erin is often found on Twitter under the user name @erinleeryan where she sometimes makes fun of her astronomer spouse @markdavidlacy and their dog @Buster_of_dog.

Introducing Mark Lacy

Mark Lacy works at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Charlottesville, Virginia. He works on support for the ALMA telescope as part of the North American ALMA Science Center, principally on data processing and user support for the ALMA archive. His science interests lie in the infrared and radio, in particular using surveys with the Spitzer Space Telescope as a basis to study galaxy evolution and active galactic nuclei.

Mark obtained his PhD in radio astronomy in 1993 from Cambridge University in the UK, after a postdoc and a temporary lectureship at Oxford he moved to the US in 1999 to work as a postdoc at Lawrence Livermore Laboratory before moving the the Spitzer Science Center in 2002, and then to NRAO in 2009. Mark can normally be found at @markdavidlacy.