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.

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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.