Reintroducing Jonathan Fortney

Jonathan Fortney is a Professor in the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, University of California, Santa Cruz, and the director of their Other Worlds Laboratory ( He received his PhD in Planetary Sciences in 2004 from the University of Arizona and was a postdoc for 4 years at NASA Ames Research Center before starting at UC Santa Cruz in 2008.

Jonathan’s major fields of interest are the atmospheres, interiors, spectra, composition, and evolution of planets, both inside and outside the solar system.  He focuses on modeling and theory of these objects, with targets that range from terrestrial planets to brown dwarfs.  He was a member of the Kepler Science Team during its prime mission and is currently a member of the Cassini Science Team.

Introducing Sarah Jane Schmidt

Sarah Jane Schmidt (@sjs917) is a postdoctoral fellow at the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics – Potsdam (AIP). The unifying theme of her work is the objects she studies: the lowest mass stars and a few of the warmest brown dwarfs. Within those guidelines, she drifts from magnetic activity to kinematics to spectroscopic features to metallicities either on individual objects or using “medium data.” Sarah is primarily an observer and often works with survey data – some of her most exciting recent projects have been with the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS), the All-Sky Automated Survey for Supernovae (ASAS-SN), and Kepler K2.
In addition to tweeting a lot about magnetic fields and flares, Sarah plans to also discuss some topics related to equity and inclusion in Astronomy, including her work as co-chair of the Committee on Inclusion in SDSS (COINS).
Sarah grew up in the suburbs of Chicago, then moved to NYC to get a BA at Barnard College (2006) and to Seattle to complete a PhD at University of Washington (2012). Before moving to Berlin, Sarah was the Columbus Postdoctoral Fellow at Ohio State University. Outside work, she nerds out about public transit, sings in multiple choirs, and cooks with her husband.

Introducing Emily Rice

Emily Rice is an assistant professor in the Dept. of Engineering Science & Physics at the College of Staten Island (City University of New York), faculty in Physics at the CUNY Graduate Center, member of CUNY Astro, and resident research associate in the Dept. of Astrophysics at the American Museum of Natural History. She studies low mass stars, brown dwarfs, & exoplanets by studying their spectra and modeling their atmospheres. Additionally she is a co-author of a new lab manual for introductory college-level astronomy courses.

She frequently give public presentations, including at the Hayden Planetarium. Emily also makes fun videos, organize astronomy presentations at bars, and share science fashion. Some past projects include AMNH’s Science Bulletins and Cosmic Discoveries iPhone app.

You can find Emily tweeting at @emilylurice.

Introducing John Gizis

This week features John Gizis. He is a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Delaware in the USA. Instead of studying extremely distant luminous objects  with our most moderrn telescopes, he studies dim, nearby stars— think M, L, T and Y dwarfs. Objects at 100 parcsecs are uncomfortably distant in his opinion. When he started graduate school in 1992, nearby M dwarfs were considered uninteresting, but now they are fashionable thanks to the possibilty of detecting habitable  planets. He has also been fortunate to see the study of brown dwarfs go from searches for hypothetical objects to an active field of research. He considers himself an optical/infrared observational astronomer but he has ventured into the ultraviolet and X-rays from time to time.  He thinks he is fortunate to have the best job in the world and enjoys having the opportunity to teach both physics and astronomy.  The rest of the year, he is @johngizis, tweeting about astronomy and sports.

Introducing Niall Deacon

This week, January 13-18, 2014, features Niall Deacon.  Niall is a postdoctoral astronomer working at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg, Germany. He specialises in using large scale surveys of the sky to identify failed stars called brown dwarfs to understand how they form and the processes which go on in their atmospheres. These objects are typically the same size as Jupiter but  12-80 times as massive and much hotter. They form a bridge between giant planets and stars helping us to learn more about both. Niall also is active in astronomy outreach, producing astronomy videos such as Don’t Call Me Colin and others. When not working, he is a keen pub quizzer, supports Scotland and Falkirk FC (so is used to seeing teams in dark blue lose) and hates referring to himself in the third person.

Starting Monday, follow along with astrotweeps on Twitter, Facebook, or right here on the Astrotweeps webpage. If you have questions for Niall, you can post them in the comments below or ask him on Twitter at @astrotweeps. For the remaining 51 weeks of the year, you can follow Niall at @nialldeacon on Twitter.