Introducing Rachael Alexandroff

I am  Rachael Alexandroff, an NSERC postdoctoral fellow in observational extragalactic astronomy with a joint appointment at the Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics and the Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics.

My research interests focus primarily on extragalactic astronomy. In particular, I am interested in exploringfeedback from actively accreting supermassive black holes (quasars) using a variety of multi-wavelength data in the radio to the X-ray. I previously identified the largest catalog of optically-selected obscured quasars in the early Universe and have been using this catalog to study how quasars effect their surroundings from the local environment to the entire host galaxy. In particular, I search for observational signatures of quasar feedback to help constrain models of galaxy evolution. You can read more here.

In particular, I love to solve interesting problems using a combination of large datasets and targeted observations to elucidate the underlying physics. By constructing models and digging out fundamental correlations we can come to understand the physical principles that govern the myriad disparate observations we are trying to analyze.

I obtained my graduate degree on July 18, 2017 from Johns Hopkins University’s Department of Physics and Astronomy working for Prof. Nadia Zakamska. Previously, I obtained a bachelor of arts in astrophysical sciences from Princeton University.

I am also very passionate about astronomy education and outreach and am president emeritus of the Physics and Astronomy Graduate Student Outreach group at Johns Hopkins University. I have spoken to groups of 500+ audience members at Astronomy on Tap Toronto and given talks at local libraries, high schools and community centres.


Introducing Rebecca Larson

Rebecca is a PhD student at the University of Texas at Austin studying some of the first galaxies that formed in the Universe. She wasn’t always interested in astronomy and claims to have ended up here ‘by accident’. Out of high school she joined the US Air Force and worked in the Intelligence Community as an Arabic Linguist for six years. During this time, and after leaving the military, she took as many college classes as possible. By the time she graduated with her Bachelor’s degrees she had attended 9 separate colleges and universities, and pursued 4 different degrees. Now she is halfway through her PhD in Astronomy and an advocate for non-traditional students.
When she’s not doing research she spends her time organizing Astronomy on Tap ATX (@AoTATX) and is the President of the Student Veterans Association (@TexasSVA).


Introducing Kathryn Neugent

Kathryn Neugent is a PhD Candidate in Astronomy at the University of Washington working with Dr. Emily Levesque. She has additionally been working as a research associate with Phil Massey at Lowell Observatory for the past 10 years. Alongside Emily and Phil, Kathryn studies massive stars (stars greater than 10 solar masses) and their evolution in the Local Group Galaxies (primarily M31, M33, and the Magellanic Clouds). Her current projects include identifying and characterizing binary Red Supergiants and their B-type star companions, understanding the evolution of Yellow Supergiants as both pre-and post- Red Supergiant objects, and directly determining the masses of Wolf-Rayet + O star binary systems. As an observational astronomer she travels the world observing at telescopes such as Gemini in Hawaii and Las Campanas in Chile. While not observing she enjoys backpacking, photography, and hanging out with her boyfriend, cat and corgi in sunny Seattle. You can stalk her more at her website:

Introducing Thomas Connor

I am Thomas Connor (@Thomas_Connor), a postdoctoral fellow at the Observatories of the Carnegie Institution for Science. This fall, I will be moving down the road in Pasadena to JPL / Caltech as a NASA Postdoctoral Fellow. Previously, I earned my PhD from Michigan State University. As an observational astronomer, I primarily work in the X-ray and optical regimes. I have varied scientific interests — I have worked on numerous nearby galaxies and the most distant quasar yet found. Much of my scientific work has focused on understanding the evolution of clusters of galaxies, utilizing the fantastic Hubble imaging of the CLASH program or my own observations taken on the Magellan telescopes. I am also involved in several active lines of research investigating the properties of quasars in the first billion years of the Universe.
During my week at the helm of Astrotweeps, I will be on-site at Las Campanas Observatory, one of the premier locations for ground-based observations, talking both about life as an observational astronomer and sharing the experience as a total solar eclipse passes over the observatory. The eclipse, which will be visible just before sunset from Buenos Aires, Argentina to La Serena, Chile, and out into the Pacific Ocean, will occur on July 2. Tens of thousands of visitors are expected to arrive just to the little stretch of desert that La Silla and Las Campanas Observatories call home, not to mention everywhere else in the path of the totality.
When not working, I like to spend time outside: hiking, climbing, and camping, and I have recently gotten back into running after a decade of sloth.