Introducing Jielai Zhang

During her PhD at the University of Toronto, Jielai (@zhangjielai) helped build the Dragonfly Telephoto Array, the world’s best telescope for low surface brightness observations of the Universe. She led the development of the image processing software for Dragonfly. The team, led by Prof. Roberto
Abraham and Prof. Pieter van Dokkum, discovered a new class of galaxies called ultra-diffuse galaxies, a subset of which has been shown to be strangely devoid of dark matter.  Jielai also led studies of galaxy disks and dust in the Milky Way, co-supervised by Prof. Peter Martin.

For her first postdoc, Jielai is pivoting to medical imaging on a Schmidt Science Fellowship. She is in Prof. Alison Noble’s group working on applications of deep learning for fetal health monitoring. Her goal is to produce atlases of the developing fetal brain using 3D ultrasound data for fetuses affected by congenital heart disease or were born small for their gestational age. She will also use routine fetal ultrasound videos and related multi-modal data to explore the systematic improvement of clinical image recording.

Equipped with new image analysis and deep learning techniques, Jielai will move to Australia in late 2019 to uncover the mysteries of how the Universe changes second to second.

Re-introducing Gautham Narayan

I’m Gautham Narayan (@gsnarayan). I study supernovae and other things that go bump in the night. I work on identifying and classifying them very early with machine learning, understanding their progenitor systems, finding the electromagnetic counterparts of gravitational wave sources, calibrating their brightness and using them to constrain the nature of dark energy, and I’m studying the interplay between these stellar deaths and their environments. I’m currently the Lasker Data Science Fellow at the Space Telescope Science Institute (@stsci), and I’m particularly excited to talk exploding stars with you this week because we’ve got TWO awesome meetings about this field, so you’ll hear about the forefront of our field and meet some of the awesome people I work with! I grew up in India, the UK and Ireland, moved to Illinois Wesleyan for my undergraduate work, Harvard for my Ph.D., and the National Optical Astronomy Observatory for my postdoctoral work. I’m delighted to be moving to the University of Illinois this Fall. Aside from science, there may also be tweeting about the academic job search, baby owls, building the LEGO Millennium Falcon, re-watching Marvel movies, hiking outside Baltimore, and ranting about how my dog Kepler has stolen my dinner/place on the bed/heart.

Introducing Joshua Lothringer

I’m Joshua Lothringer (@JDLothringer). I’m a PhD candidate in my final semester at the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory at the University of Arizona. I did my undergrad in astronomy from the University of Colorado at Boulder where I worked at the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics operating several NASA spacecraft, including the Kepler space telescope and the Student Dust Counter on New Horizons. I also worked on the science team of the MAVEN mission to Mars. In the fall, I’ll be moving to Baltimore to postdoc at Johns Hopkins University and work with folks at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI).

My research has focused on studying exoplanet atmospheres. I’ve been lucky enough to observe and model exoplanet atmospheres. I’ve used observations from HST/STIS to study Neptune and sub-Neptune sized exoplanets, as well as done some ground-based observing work at MMT. I’ve also used the PHOENIX stellar atmosphere model to simulate the atmospheres of the hottest Jovian exoplanets.

Outside of my research time, I like to read (mostly sci-fi), play video games, watch sitcoms, play guitar, and walk by partner’s doge.

Introducing Sarah McIntyre

I’m Sarah McIntyre (@ExoBioExplorer) a PhD student at the Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the Australian National University.

My current research aims to examine the effect that a diverse range of astronomical and planetary parameters have on an exoplanet’s ability to sustain liquid water. I spend most of my time working on exoplanet models and simulations and doing lab experiments. Long term research plans include helping determine optimal targets for near-future ground- and space-based observations of planetary atmospheres and the potential detection of life in space.

When not exploring exoplanets I read (lately mainly about AI/machine learning), compose, play piano (or violin) and travel.

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 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.

Introducing Jo Barstow

Jo Barstow is a specialist in exoplanet atmospheres, with a particular interest in spectral retrievals and cloud properties. She is currently a Royal Astronomical Society Research Fellow at University College London, performing comparative studies of exoplanet atmospheres. She balances part time work with caring for her toddler daughter. Although she doesn’t get much time for it at the moment, she is also a keen amateur singer, actress and musician and is now an expert sheet music/toddler juggler.

Introducing Bruce Macintosh

Bruce Macintosh is an astronomer studying extrasolar planets with high-contrast imaging. His PhD was at UCLA graduating in 1994, when UCLA was first starting its world-class infrared instrumentation lab – Bruce worked on the Gemini 2-channel IR camera for Lick Observatory. After that, he took a postdoc at Lawrence Livermore National Lab and then becomes a staff scientist at LLNL through 2013. At LLNL he worked on adaptive optics systems at Lick and Keck Observatory, and was one of the founders of the NSF Center for Adaptive Optics.

Together with Christian Marois, Bruce led the team that used Keck adaptive optics to make the first-ever images of an exoplanet system – the four young giant planets orbiting HR8799. He is the Principal Investigator for the Gemini Planet Imager (GPI), an advanced AO coronagraph now on the Gemini South Telescope carrying out a survey for young planets. He also co-leads a coronagraph science team for the WFIRST instrument. He is active in astro science policy, having served on the ground-based optical/IR panel for the 2010 Decadal Survey, the Mid-Decadal Survey, and the just-completed Exoplanet Science Strategy panel.