Reintroducing Michael West

Michael West is Deputy Director for Science at Lowell Observatory. He has been a professional astronomer for more than three decades and feels blessed to be able to explore the universe for a living. He received his PhD in astronomy from Yale University and held research, teaching and leadership positions at universities and observatories on four continents before joining Lowell in 2015.

Michael’s research is extragalactic in focus. Over the years he has studied giant cannibal galaxies, orphaned star clusters, the cosmic web, and other curios of the cosmos.  He began his career as a theoretical astrophysicist – his PhD thesis was a computational study of how the properties of galaxy clusters might depend on the type of dark matter that dominates the universe – but he gradually moved into observational astronomy.

Michael is passionate about sharing the wonders of the universe with people of all ages, and currently serves on the IAU’s Commission C2 on Communicating Astronomy with the Public. He loves writing and is particularly fascinated by the interplay between science and culture. His essays have been published by The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, USA Today, Scientific American, Astronomy magazine and more. He has also written two books, most recently A Sky Wonderful with Stars: 50 Years of Modern Astronomy on Maunakea, and he’s hard at work on his next book.


Introducing Aswin Sekhar

Dr Aswin Sekhar is a solar system dynamicist at Armagh Observatory & Planetarium, Northern Ireland. His work mainly focuses on the dynamical evolution of small solar system bodies like meteoroids, comets and asteroids.

He is the first professional meteor astronomer from India. In addition to research, he contributes popular science articles to various national and international media. He does multiple science public outreach projects in India for rural schools and university students.

Apart from sciency stuff, he enjoys swimming, badminton, cricket, chess, experimenting various Indian recipes, playing Tabla (Indian drums), treks on mountains, sipping beer near beaches and gambling card games for non-astronomical sums of money! Having said all this, he is not an expert in any of these things mentioned above!


Re-introducing Kat Volk

I’m Kat Volk (@kat_volk), a staff scientist at the University of Arizona’s Department of Planetary Sciences/Lunar and Planetary Laboratory in Tucson, Arizona. My research mostly involves a mix of theoretical and observational studies of trans-Neptunian objects (aka Kuiper belt objects) in the outer solar system, with a focus on how their orbits can help us understand the dynamical history of the giant planets in our solar system. I also study the dynamics of exoplanet systems like those discovered by the Kepler mission.

I got my PhD in planetary science from the University of Arizona in 2013. I then spent two years working at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, mostly as part of the Outer Solar System Origins Survey (OSSOS) which discovered more than 800 objects in the outer solar system. I moved back to Tucson in 2015 to continue a variety of research projects. You can find research updates on my website:

Introducing Henry Throop

Henry Throop is a planetary astronomer based in Washington, DC. His research focuses on the outer solar system, and he has published over 40 articles in scientific journals, on topics ranging from to rings of Saturn and Jupiter, to planet and star formation, to astrobiology and the origins of life, to searching for (and co-discovering) Pluto’s smallest moon, Styx, in 2012. Throop is member of the science team for NASA’s New Horizons mission, and was involved in its historic flyby of Pluto in 2015 and Ultima Thule in 2019. He received a PhD in Planetary Science from the University of Colorado, in 2000. Throop is a program officer at NASA Headquarters in Washington, DC, where he is a program manager for NASA’s planetary research program.

Throop has spent much of his career bringing astronomy to the developing world. While living for eight years in Africa, India, and Mexico, he worked extensively with schools and community groups, helping to develop their science programs and inspire the next generation of leaders. He has presented more than 150 lectures for science festivals, planetariums, school groups, and public events across the world. Throop’s work has been featured in Science, Nature, Time, The Washington Post, and on the History Channel and National Geographic TV, as well as dozens of newspapers from Pakistan to Hungary to Namibia.

Throop’s work has won him broad accolades. In 2017 he was awarded both the US State Department’s Avis Bohlen Award, and the American Astronomical Society’s Carl Sagan Medal, for his work in science communication and outreach to the public. Asteroid “193736 Henrythroop” was named in his honor.

Introducing Sam Frampton

Sam Frampton is a PhD Student at the University of Leicester, and is currently looking at mission concept for small satellites to the outer solar system.

After completing his BSc in Physics at Lancaster University, Sam completed his masters degree in Astronautics and Space Engineering at Cranfield University, where he worked on the proposal for the ‘EnVision’ mission to Venus which is currently being reviewed by ESA. After some time working on telecommunication payloads in Toulouse, Sam started his PhD in September.

Sam will be tweeting about the past and future of mission planning, PhD life, as well as sharing some of his favourite space music!

Introducing Oliver Hall

Oliver Hall (@asteronomer) is a 3rd year PhD student with the Sun, Stars & Exoplanets group at the University of Birmingham in the UK. His work is centered around the use of asteroseismology: the study of sound waves inside stars through variations we see on their surfaces. Asteroseismology is a useful tool that can give us masses and radii of stars, and can be compared to models to discover all kinds of things about stellar interiors.

Oliver is currently studying the synergies between asteroseismology and distances from the Gaia mission for stars observed by the Kepler space telscope, and hopes to soon set his sighs on stars observed by the K2 mission as well. He also participates in collaborations such as TESS Data for Asteroseismology (T’DA), working with an international group of astronomers to prepare high quality lightcurves from brand new data from the TESS space telescope, and has contributed to popular open source code such as lightkurve.

Oliver grew up abroad in Bussum in the Netherlands, before moving back to the UK for his undergraduate degree, also at Birmingham. While waiting for his code to run he can be found on twitter and writing for Astrobites. Outside of research, he loves reading, music, exploring, and pretty much every form of media.

Re-Introducing Abhijeet Borkar

I am Abhijeet Borkar. I spend most of my time studying the supermassive black holes at the centres of galaxies and their interaction with the host galaxy, particularly using radio interferometry techniques. And the rest of the time I am working as a contact scientist at the Czech node of the European ALMA Regional Center. My research interests include the study of Sagittarius A*, the SMBH at the center of the Milky Way; formation and evolution of the SMBH at the centers of galaxies, active galactic nuclei (AGN).

I did my B.Sc. & M.Sc. in Physics from Pune, India after which I went to do PhD at the University of Cologne, Cologne, Germany, as a part of the International Max Planck Research School (IMPRS) at the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy (MPIfR). Since my undergraduate days, I have been involved in science communication and outreach and I am actively engaged in outreach online and offline.

I can be found online @borkarabhijeet on Twitter or @borkarabhijeet05 in many other places.