Introducing Haley Wahl

I’m Haley Wahl (@hwahl16) and I’m a PhD student in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at West Virginia University. I’m originally from New England and I did my undergraduate at the University of Vermont. My main research interest is pulsars. I love pulsars because each of them is different and they exhibit weird phenomena like nulling (where they just randomly stop pulsing for a period of time and we have no idea why!). They’re a ton of fun to study and we can learn about neutron stars, equations of state, the interstellar medium, gravitational waves, plasma physics, and so much more from them.

During my time at UVM, I worked with Dr. Joanna Rankin studying two pulsars that exhibit an emission phenomenon called “swooshing” and also started a project on pulsar emission geometry at low frequencies. I’m currently working with Dr. Maura McLaughlin with the NANOGrav collaboration (the Nanohertz Observatory for Gravitational Waves, a collaboration that is working to detect gravitational waves using pulsar timing) on studying the polarization and rotation measures of a set of 40 pulsars.

In addition to doing research, I’ve recently fallen in love with science outreach! I work at WVU’s planetarium putting on shows for the public and love getting people excited about space. I frequently talk to classes through the Skype a Scientist program and love sharing my knowledge about space with elementary and middle school classes and telling them what it’s like to be a scientist. I recently started writing for AstroBites and once a month, I get to take a really cool paper that may be a little bit technical and bring it down to a level that everyone can understand. I’ve always loved writing so I’m so happy to have found AstroBites.

When I’m not at my computer exploring the mysteries of pulsars, you can find me in the kitchen trying my hand at yet another pastry (I’ve been inspired lately by The Great British Baking Show), in my running shoes exploring another part of Morgantown, or with a book in my hand. I’m also part of the Physics and Astronomy Graduate Student Organization (PAGSO) at WVU and am currently the secretary of the Graduate and Professional Student Senate, a group that is dedicated to keeping graduate students involved in what’s going on at WVU.


Introducing Andrew Mann

I’m Andrew Mann (@amannastro) a new assistant professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Before coming to North Carolina, I was a Hubble Postdoctoral Fellow at Columbia University, before which I was the Harlan J. Smith Fellow at University of Texas and Austin after getting my PhD from University of Hawaii at Manoa in 2013. My research focuses on the evolution of planetary systems. Primarily, I search through data from the K2 and TESS transiting planet surveys to find young (10-650 million year old) planets and compare their properties to similar older planets statistically.

I also work on fundamental stellar properties (chemical composition, radius, mass, temperature). Primarily I study low-mass and young stars as a means to better understand the planets orbiting them (we only know a planet as well as we know its host star). I am just getting involved with the design and building of small satellites (CubeSats) to answer fundamental questions about astrophysics.

Outside astronomy, my primary interests are hiking, traveling, eating exotic food, sci-fi books, and board games. I am also slightly obsessed with my cat.

Introducing Keaton Bell

Hi, I’m Keaton Bell (@astrokeat), an observational astronomer interested in all things stellar astrophysics, time domain surveys, pulsating variable stars, white dwarf stars and exoplanets. I earned my PhD at the University of Texas at Austin, where I spent 225 nights observing variable white dwarf systems at McDonald Observatory.  As a postdoc at the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Göttingen, Germany, I am currently focused on developing tools for classifying large numbers of variable stars observed by space missions like Kepler and TESS.  I am excited to begin searching for the first planets transiting white dwarf stars in data from the Zwicky Transient Facility as a NSF Astronomy and Astrophysics Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Washington this fall.

In my free time I enjoy playing guitar in our institute’s band, watching live music, reading, cooking, and traveling around Europe as much as I can while I’m living here.

Introducing Jessie Dotson

I’m Jessie Dotson (@jessiedotson) I work at NASA Ames Research Center on the Kepler/K2 mission and the Asteroid Threat Assessment Project. For Kepler/K2 I spend my time figuring out how NASA can enable the most science out of the data from the Kepler space telescope.  For the Asteroid Threat Assessment Project I study the physical properties of Near Earth Asteroids that effect how an asteroid would interact with the Earth’s atmosphere.

In my non-astronomy time, I love to play with my dog, raise bees, make chocolate, and play the banjo.

Introducing Sarah Schmidt

I’m Sarah Jane Schmidt (@sjs917), and currently I’m the Schwarzschild Postdoctoral Fellow at the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics – Potsdam (AIP). Before that, I was a postoctoral fellow at Ohio State University and before that I got my PhD at the University of Washington (2012). My work is focused on determining the magnetic properties and metallicities of some of the smallest stars and warmest brown dwarfs (spectral types M and L). To do this, I primarily works with survey data of all sorts – photometric, spectroscopic, and/or time-domain. In addition to cool star science, I plan to tweet about equity + inclusion, learning to mentor students, and what it’s like to be from the US and (try to) adapt to German academia.

In my non-astronomy time, I read (sci-fi, fantasy, history, biography, feminist theory), sing in a collective women’s choir, listen to podcasts, play video games, and recently borrowed a bass guitar that is my new favorite thing.