Introducing Thomas Connor

I am Thomas Connor (@Thomas_Connor), a postdoctoral fellow at the Observatories of the Carnegie Institution for Science. This fall, I will be moving down the road in Pasadena to JPL / Caltech as a NASA Postdoctoral Fellow. Previously, I earned my PhD from Michigan State University. As an observational astronomer, I primarily work in the X-ray and optical regimes. I have varied scientific interests — I have worked on numerous nearby galaxies and the most distant quasar yet found. Much of my scientific work has focused on understanding the evolution of clusters of galaxies, utilizing the fantastic Hubble imaging of the CLASH program or my own observations taken on the Magellan telescopes. I am also involved in several active lines of research investigating the properties of quasars in the first billion years of the Universe.
During my week at the helm of Astrotweeps, I will be on-site at Las Campanas Observatory, one of the premier locations for ground-based observations, talking both about life as an observational astronomer and sharing the experience as a total solar eclipse passes over the observatory. The eclipse, which will be visible just before sunset from Buenos Aires, Argentina to La Serena, Chile, and out into the Pacific Ocean, will occur on July 2. Tens of thousands of visitors are expected to arrive just to the little stretch of desert that La Silla and Las Campanas Observatories call home, not to mention everywhere else in the path of the totality.
When not working, I like to spend time outside: hiking, climbing, and camping, and I have recently gotten back into running after a decade of sloth.

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 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!

Reintroducing JJ Eldridge

JJ Eldridge (@astro_jje) is a theoretical astrophysics who studied for their PhD at the University of Cambridge in the UK. Then worked as a post-doc in Paris, Belfast and then returned to Cambridge. In 2011 they became a lecturer at the University of Auckland, New Zealand.

Their research interest involve stars (especially binaries!), galaxies, supernovae and study these across the Universe, from our own Sun to those at the edge of the observable Universe. They are co-PI on the Binary Population and Spectral Synthesis (BPASS) code that was created to facilitate their research.

JJ is a passionate and effective teacher all levels of undergraduate and postgraduate study. They also work to increase how equitable and inclusivity of academia.

They are also a hoopy frood who loves science fiction in all forms (books, TV series, movies and computer games) and they also always know where their towel is.

 

Reintroducing Ángel R. López-Sánchez

Dr. Ángel R. López-Sánchez is an astronomer and science communicator at the Australian Astronomical Observatory and the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the Macquarie University. He studies how gas is converted into stars in nearby galaxies and how this affects galaxy evolution. He also provides support for visiting astronomers to the Anglo-Australian Telescope (AAT, Siding Spring Observatory, NSW). Dr. López-Sánchez is passionate science communicator who continuously gives talks and public lectures, writes popular science articles and organizes stargazing activities. He is very active in social media, his Twitter feed is @El_Lobo_Rayado.

Introducing Mehmet Alpaslan

Mehmet Alpaslan (@mehmsy) is a postdoctoral fellow at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California. He is an extragalactic astronomer that studies the role of environment on the evolution of galaxies using data from from the Galaxy And Mass Assembly (GAMA) survey. Specifically, Mehmet models the large-scale distribution of galaxies, often referred to as the Cosmic Web, and tries to understand how (or, indeed, if) galaxies in filaments differ to those in voids. He is also interested in astrostatistics and will talk about the marvels of the programming language R ad nauseam.

 

Mehmet received his PhD from the University of St Andrews, having also studied at the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research at the University of Western Australia for two years during his doctoral training. Originally Turkish, he has lived in seven countries prior to his arrival in the US. He will most likely post photos of his goofy looking Ibizan hounds.

Introducing Stephanie Bernard

Stephanie Bernard is a third-year PhD student in the School of Physics at the University of Melbourne, in Australia. Her work focuses on galaxies during the epoch of reionisation, when the Universe was less than one billion years old. These galaxies are thought to contribute to the reionisation of the Universe, when the hydrogen in the Universe went from a neutral to an ionised state. Using imaging data from the Hubble Space Telescope’s Wide Field Camera 3, and follow-up observations with the Spitzer Space Telescope, Stephanie is looking for the very brightest, rarest galaxies during this time.

Stephanie received her BSc in physics from the University of Melbourne, and also received a concurrent diploma in Russian language. She then completed a MSc in physics, also from Melbourne, with thesis work on supernovae externally supervised at Swinburne University of Technology, also in Melbourne. She enjoys public outreach, and has worked with schools around Melbourne as a part of the Telescopes in Schools program, run by the Melbourne astrophysics group. Outside astronomy, she greatly enjoys film photography and knitting.

Introducing Molly Peeples

Molly Peeples (@astronomolly) is an astronomer at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland. She studies how galaxies change through time, with a focus on the origin and fate of the heavy elements, which has led her to a several year obsession over the extensive gaseous halos surrounding galaxies known as the circumgalactic medium. Molly considers herself a theorist, but is often found working closely with data and instruments, in an ongoing pursuit of getting fake data to look like real data. When she isn’t traveling, cooking, or hiking (and sometimes when she is), Molly also works on the Hubble Space Telescope and preparing for the WFIRST mission.

Introducing Ana Weigel

Anna Weigel (@annakweigel) is a third year Ph.D. student at ETH Zurich in Switzerland. Her research focuses on the connection between galaxies and their black holes. Specifically she studies if and how active black holes might be shutting down star formation in their host galaxies. Instead of closely examining single objects, Anna is combining phenomenological and statistical approaches. This means looking for trends and correlations in the local galaxy population as a whole.

Anna received her B.S. in physics from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany and then moved to Switzerland for her M.Sc. in physics at ETH. Before starting her Ph.D., she spent three months at the Swinburne Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing in beautiful Melbourne. Anna enjoys teaching, which is part of her Ph.D. student duties, and doing outreach. For example, building galaxies with kids has taught her that 7-year olds and glitter glue do not mix well. From time to time Anna also likes to visualise science in the form of delicious cakes.