Introducing Sarah Jane Schmidt

Sarah Jane Schmidt (@sjs917) is a postdoctoral fellow at the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics – Potsdam (AIP). The unifying theme of her work is the objects she studies: the lowest mass stars and a few of the warmest brown dwarfs. Within those guidelines, she drifts from magnetic activity to kinematics to spectroscopic features to metallicities either on individual objects or using “medium data.” Sarah is primarily an observer and often works with survey data – some of her most exciting recent projects have been with the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS), the All-Sky Automated Survey for Supernovae (ASAS-SN), and Kepler K2.
In addition to tweeting a lot about magnetic fields and flares, Sarah plans to also discuss some topics related to equity and inclusion in Astronomy, including her work as co-chair of the Committee on Inclusion in SDSS (COINS).
Sarah grew up in the suburbs of Chicago, then moved to NYC to get a BA at Barnard College (2006) and to Seattle to complete a PhD at University of Washington (2012). Before moving to Berlin, Sarah was the Columbus Postdoctoral Fellow at Ohio State University. Outside work, she nerds out about public transit, sings in multiple choirs, and cooks with her husband.

Introducing Jeffrey Simpson

Jeffrey Simpson (@DoctorJeph) is a postdoctoral fellow at the Australian Astronomical Observatory (AAO) based in Sydney. His research focuses on globular clusters, in particular, the chemical abundances of their stars. He makes use of spectra to investigate the abundances of elements like carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and sodium to try and unravel the multiple populations of stars that exist in these peculiar stellar conglomerations. Recently he has focused on low mass clusters to try and find if there is a mass limit to multiple populations. Along with research, he provides support for users of the Anglo-Australian Telescope (AAT), especially people making use of their fibre-fed spectrographs: HERMES and AAOmega. He is also trying (and will eventually succeed at) at putting together the AAT schedule for the six months starting in February 2017.

He is involved with the GALAH survey (@galahsurvey), where he occasionally tweets as well) which is using HERMES on the AAT to acquire high-resolution spectra of one million stars in our Milky Way. GALAH will determine the temperature, gravity, overall metallicity for these stars, but more crucially, the abundance of over 20 different elements. He spends a lot of nights observing for GALAH.

He grew up in the town of Invercargill, New Zealand, home to amongst other things tuatara and the southernmost large pyramid in the world. From there he did his undergraduate and PhD at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch from 2010 to 2014. He did a short stint at Macquarie University before moving down the road to the AAO in 2015.

Introducing Duncan Forgan

Dr Duncan Forgan is a postdoc at the University of St Andrews in Scotland. He did his PhD and first postdoc at the nearby University of Edinburgh, where his focus was simulations of star and planet formation at very early epochs.

During his PhD he explored numerical approaches to the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI), which often makes headlines. He does his best to parlay this attention into public outreach, engaging with wide audiences from school kids to gamers to prisoners.

He is a member of the Royal Society of Edinburgh’s Young Academy of Scotland, a diverse grouping of academics, civil servants and third sector workers gathered to answer the challenges facing Scotland in the 21st Century, and to be a voice for the young.

Duncan will be tweeting from California this week, as he visits the Berkeley SETI Research Center. He’ll still give a flavour of academic life in beautiful St Andrews, and his country life replete with chickens in the back yard, and nosey horses for neighbours.

Introducing Ana Weigel

Anna Weigel (@annakweigel) is a third year Ph.D. student at ETH Zurich in Switzerland. Her research focuses on the connection between galaxies and their black holes. Specifically she studies if and how active black holes might be shutting down star formation in their host galaxies. Instead of closely examining single objects, Anna is combining phenomenological and statistical approaches. This means looking for trends and correlations in the local galaxy population as a whole.

Anna received her B.S. in physics from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany and then moved to Switzerland for her M.Sc. in physics at ETH. Before starting her Ph.D., she spent three months at the Swinburne Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing in beautiful Melbourne. Anna enjoys teaching, which is part of her Ph.D. student duties, and doing outreach. For example, building galaxies with kids has taught her that 7-year olds and glitter glue do not mix well. From time to time Anna also likes to visualise science in the form of delicious cakes.