Introducing Nick Attree

Nick Attree (@nick_attree) is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Stirling in Scotland, working on thermal modelling in support of the InSight mission. InSight, which lands on Mars on the 26th November, will measure subsurface temperatures up to 5 m deep in order to determine the geothermal heat flow, as well as measuring Mars-quakes! The group at Stirling is interested in the physical and mechanical properties of the upper regolith layers, and how these affect the heat flow measurements.

Nick worked previously at the Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Marseille, in the south of France, on the MiARD (Multi Instrument Analysis of Rosetta Data) project, using modelling and data from ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft to explore the physical and mechanical properties of comet 67P. In particular, he used OSIRIS camera images to analyse surface features, such as overhanging cliffs and fractures, to investigate the mechanical strength of the nucleus material, as well as navigation and position data, to measure the effects of outgassing on the comet’s orbit.

Nick completed his PhD at Queen Mary University of London, working with Cassini data on collisions in Saturn’s F ring. Before that, he obtained his MPhys degree in Physics with Planetary Science from Leicester University.

Outside of research, he enjoys football (watching and playing), walking, reading, sci-fi, music, coffee & cake, and exploring new places in Scotland!


Reintroducing Ward Howard

Ward Howard is a PhD candidate in physics and astronomy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He researches the impact of stellar activity on the detection and habitability of exoplanets around nearby stars by measuring their flare rates using data from the Evryscopes, an ultra-wide survey of the entire visible sky every two minutes. Evryscope-South has produced millions of high-cadence, multi-year light-curves, making feasible long-term monitoring of starspots, star-planet interactions, and large flares, including a superflare from our nearest stellar neighbor, Proxima Centauri, which bathed its terrestrial planet Proxima b with lethal doses of UV radiation. Evryscope-North is now also active, which Ward helped to deploy earlier this year in collaboration with SDSU.

Ward is also excited by the synergies between visible-light Evryscopes and radio telescopes in understanding stellar activity and space weather. This combination allows us to look for exoplanet magnetic fields and investigate mysterious sub-mm flares observed on red dwarfs and what they might mean for habitable exoplanets.

Ward grew up in High Point, NC and was initially inspired to study astronomy by the friendly and enthusiastic staff of the Jamestown, NC Cline Observatory. In 2015, Ward received a BS in physics and mathematics from Union University in Jackson, TN. He enjoys good books (esp. science fiction and fantasy), coffee, physics outreach, and running/hiking.

Introducing Emma Alexander

Emma Alexander (@Emma_Alexander) is a radio astronomer studying the magnetic fields of radio galaxies. She is currently doing her PhD at the Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics (University of Manchester, UK), working on POSSUM, the POlarisation Sky Survey of the Universe’s Magnetism. POSSUM is of the projects currently being undertaken with ASKAP, the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder telescope, and covers a wide range of polarisation and magnetism science. Emma focuses on well-resolved radio galaxies and the magnetic fields of their lobes, which are radio-bright structures extending from the central Active Galactic Nucleus (AGN).

Emma also has a background in amateur astronomy, but doesn’t get the chance to get out of the city as often as she’d like to observe. She is also active in scientific outreach – both in person and through media – including appearances on national radio and working on the Jodcast (@Jodcast), an astronomy podcast run by Jodrell Bank astronomers. Outside of astronomy, she enjoys playing netball, cooking & baking vegan foods, and looking after her pets: two guinea pigs and a cat.

Introducing Kovi Rose

Kovi Rose is a final year physics undergraduate at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is a research assistant, in the Racah Institute of Physics, on an observational astrophysics team that uses radio telescopes to study core-collapse supernovae. In order to create a more extensive catalogue of supernovae and other bright radio sources, the team monitors the discoveries and classifications of low redshift astronomical transients, conducting follow-up observations and analyses of the radio emissions coming from these stellar objects.

Having noticed the increasing trend of anti-intellectualism and science denial, Kovi developed a passion for science communication and outreach. After the creation of @funfactscience, a Facebook/Twitter/Instagram science communication platform, Kovi has worked with an international team science communicators and educators on a number outreach campaigns; centered around topics like women in STEM and astronomy.

Outside of his online efforts, Kovi works for the Ramon Foundation in a project-based learning program which culminates in the launch of an experiment to the International Space Station. In his remaining free time Kovi volunteers with the HORIZON space educators community as well as SpaceIL, the privately funded Israeli nonprofit set to land a spacecraft on the Moon in February 2019.

Introducing Gourav Khullar

Gourav Khullar (@isskywalker, Pronouns: he/him) is a PhD Candidate at the University of Chicago, affiliated with the Dept. of Astronomy and Astrophysics, and the Kavli Institute of Cosmological Physics. An Indian national, he has been in Chicago since 2015, having moved to the US from the University of Cambridge with a masters degree in Astrophysics, and the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi with a bachelors degree in Engineering Physics.
Gourav’s research focuses on the astrophysics of member galaxies of high-redshift galaxy clusters, which he studies via tools like optical-infrared spectroscopy and strong gravitational lensing. Gourav is part of the South Pole Telescope (SPT) Clusters collaboration, and is also affiliated with the Dark Energy Survey (DES). Counting himself as an observer and an analyst, Gourav is a frequent user of the Magellan Telescopes and the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO) in Chile for his research. His past work as an undergraduate and masters student includes an analysis of host galaxy properties in DES-discovered active galactic nuclei (AGN), understanding chemical enrichment in galaxy environments via simulations and observations, spectroscopic studies of Type Ib supernovae, and building stellar speckle interferometric apparatus in a laboratory that mimic adaptive optics systems on telescopes.
Outside astrophysics research, Gourav has also been a part of the Astrobites collaboration since 2015, both as a science communication writer-editor and an education researcher. Gourav also works on issues of social justice, having co-founded initiatives like the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Journal Club (DEIJC) at UChicago, a platform that helps early-career astrophysicists create an equitable and inclusive local community through peer education. He is an organizer and officer with Graduate Students United – UChicago’s graduate worker union – which has been fighting for labor rights for graduate members of the UChicago community. On a light day, you would find Gourav reading non-fiction books, listening to Punjabi music, or at a movie theatre checking out the latest superhero flick!

Introducing David Wilson

David Wilson (@astrodave2) is a postdoc at the University of Texas at Austin, having recently moved there after completing his PhD at the University of Warwick. His research focuses on observing M dwarf and white dwarf stars using Hubble and other space telescopes. He uses those observations to explore the effects of stellar activity on extrasolar planets and to study the remnants of planetary systems around dead stars. In particular, David is a member of the Mega-Muscles collaboration, which is using a large number of telescopes to produce an archive of pan-chromatic M dwarf spectra.

Along with his research, David is also interested in science communication and outreach. During his PhD he was a writer for the Astrobites collaboration and regularly visited local schools to give talks and present planetarium shows. When not working, David can usually be found reading sci-fi books or adding to his space-themed Lego collection.

Introducing Emily Hunt

Emily Hunt (@emilydoesastro) is a final year undergraduate at the University of Bath in the UK. She is approaching the end of a summer internship, with the aim of improving the knowledge of dust extinction to variable stars in the Magellanic clouds by using parallax data from the Gaia satellite. The past couple of months have been an adventure in learning about Bayesian statistics, variable stars, and doing large-scale data analysis in Python. Emily is also passionate about equality and diversity in science, being involved in running a Network of Women in Physics at her university and being an advocate for LGBT+ people in STEM.

In her spare time, Emily does live sound engineering and plays guitar. She grew up in Coventry in the middle of the UK, and developed her passion for space after a family move nearer to the countryside with a darker night sky. She’s also a science fiction buff, and has an arduino called Lovelace.