Introducing the Kepler/K2 Guest Observer Office

NASA’s Kepler/K2 Guest Observer Office (@KeplerGO) is tasked with helping the scientific community extract the best possible science from the rich data set collected by NASA’s Kepler spacecraft.  The GO office provides an interface between Kepler’s mission operations and the scientific community, provides critical technical support to users, develops documentation and open source software tools, and supports outreach activities.  Details of the GO Office’s activities can be found at keplerscience.arc.nasa.gov.

Kepler’s GO team consists of four astronomers based at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California.  Over the next week, these four astronomers will tweet about their daily activities at Kepler HQ:

* Geert Barentsen (@GeertHub) completed his PhD at the Queen’s University of Belfast (UK) in 2012, researching star formation using narrow-band photometry.  He leads Kepler’s GO office, develops the K2 proposal calls, and organizes the proposal reviews.

* Christina Hedges (@TheChedgehog) completed her PhD at the University of Cambridge (UK) in 2017, researching exoplanet transmission spectroscopy using the Hubble Space Telescope and mining the K2 data for young dipper stars using machine learning. Christina leads the support of our exoplanet and asteroseismology communities.

* Michael Gully-Santiago (@gully_) earned his PhD at the University of Texas in Austin in 2015, where he developed innovative technologies for and observational studies of star and planet formation. Gully leads the support of the [K2 Supernova Cosmology Experiment](https://keplerscience.arc.nasa.gov/supernova-experiment/) and is helping our community leverage modern data science methods.

* Ann Marie Cody (@astronomcody) earned her PhD at the California Institute of Technology in 2011, where she investigated the properties of young brown dwarfs and low-mass stars using time series photometry and spectroscopy. Ann Marie helps our stellar astrophysics community mine the star clusters observed by K2.

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Introducing Graeme Poole

Graeme Poole is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Bristol working on early solar system cosmochemistry and the formation of planetary bodies. Via the dark art of mass spectrometry, he is measuring isotopes in meteorites to gauge the origin of volatiles delivered to Earth. Meteorites from primitive bodies are the equivalent of a time machine; they hold a record of the conditions during solar system formation over 4.5 billion years ago and have remained (mostly) unchanged since.

Prior to this, Graeme studied for a PhD at Imperial College London, researching nucleosynthetic isotope anomalies and the conditions in the solar nebula at the time of terrestrial planet formation. During his undergraduate degree in Earth Sciences at the University of Oxford, Graeme also had the privilege to work on lunar samples brought back by the Apollo missions. So if it’s a rock and it’s from space, Graeme is all over it!

Graeme is currently co-chair of the United Kingdom Planetary Forum (@UKPlanetary), a body that promotes planetary research within the UK, and is a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society (@RoyalAstroSoc). Outside of the lab, Graeme can be found almost exclusively on the cricket pitch.

Introducing James Matthews

James Matthews is postdoctoral researcher at University of Oxford where he tries to understand where the highest energy cosmic rays come from. Cosmic rays are particles with energies up to 100 billion billion electron volts (that’s a lot of energy!) that strike our atmosphere and produce showers of secondary particles, which we can detect at places like the Pierre Auger observatory. Although they were discovered at the start of the 20th century, we still don’t really know where the highest energy cosmic rays come from.
James’ work is mostly theoretical; I do hydrodynamics simulations of outflows from active galactic nuclei (AGN) to see if they produce the observed cosmic rays. AGN are supermassive black holes that shine brightly due to the gas that is falling onto them, meaning they are interesting for all sorts of reasons — not just for cosmic ray astrophysicists! So, he also works on trying to generally understand the outflows and accretion discs that form part of their sometimes confusing behaviour. James’ PhD thesis, completed at the University of Southampton, focused on this topic. Outside of academia James plays guitar and keyboards in a band called Waking Aida and enjoy football, squash and good pubs!

Introducing Katie Breivik

Katie Breivik is a finishing phd student at Northwestern University and is also a member of the Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics (CIERA). Her thesis research focuses on binary evolution and compact binary populations. In particular, she likes to think about what can be learned from combining the results of large-scale electromagnetic surveys like Gaia and future gravitational wave catalogs from LISA. To do this, she generates synthetic Milky Way compact binary populations using several different binary evolution models which can be compared to current and future observed populations.
When she is not running binary population synthesis codes, she likes to explore the Chicago brewery scene or watch RuPaul’s Drag Race with her two cats, Margot and Richie.