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.

Introducing Benne Holwerda

Benne Holwerda is a postdoc at Leiden Observatory in the Netherlands working with Rychard Bouwens. He will be starting as an associate professor at the University of Louisville on January 1, 2017. Leiden Observatory has a rich hiistory in astronomy and today is a vibrant research facility in extra-galactic astronomy, astrochemistry and instrumentation.

Benne Holwerda works on galaxies, and their gas, dust and stars, in galaxies both near and far. He studies dust in galaxies using accidental overlapping (occulting) galaxies and gas using the MeerKAT Radio Telescope, under construction in South Africa (to be completed mid-2017). He works on the most distant galaxies with Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes. He has worked at the Space Telescope Science Institute, the University of Cape Town, and the European Space Telescope.

You can find Benne  most other weeks at @BenneHolwerda

Introducing Andreea Font

Andreea Font is a Senior Lecturer at the Astrophysics Research Institute (ARI), Liverpool John Moores University. Her research interests are on the formation and evolution of galaxies, in particular that of the Milky Way, Andromeda and of other galaxies in the Local Group.  She uses super-computer simulations to model the formation of stellar haloes and tidal streams of Milky Way-like systems and to make predictions for these Galactic surveys, such as Gaia and WEAVE. She is also interested in how stellar discs form and survive in the framework of hierarchical cosmology, what clues can be found in the chemical abundance of present-day stars about the formation history of their host galaxies and how environment affects the properties of galaxies.
Prior to her tenured position in the UK, she held post-doctoral positions in US at Wesleyan University and in UK at Institute for Computational Cosmology at Durham University and at the Institute of Astronomy, University of Cambridge.