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!
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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.

Introducing Abhijeet Borkar

I did my B.Sc. from the Fergusson College, Pune, India in 2010, M.Sc. in Physics from the University of Pune, Pune, India, with specialization in Quantum Field Theory. After that I went for PhD at the University of Cologne, Cologne, Germany, as a part of the International Max Planck Research School (IMPRS) at the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy (MPIfR). I recently completed my PhD in November 2015, and will soon start my first post-doc position at the Astronomical Institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences in Prague, Czech Republic.

For my masters’ thesis, I worked on the modelling of the gas distribution in local dwarf galaxies and relating the star formation rates with the gas distribution. My PhD thesis was about the observations of the Galactic Center at 3 mm to study the flaring activity of Sagittarius A*, the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way, and the study of the stellar SiO maser sources in the central parsec region. My research interests include the Galactic Center region, the AGN-host relation & Evolution, Cosmic Archaeology, Formation of first objects in the Universe (First Stars, First Galaxies, First Black Holes), Radio Interferometry etc.

I am also fairly active in public outreach in India, where I have been involved with the Astro Club at the Fergusson College, Pune. Currently involved in activities related to improving science awareness among students in parts of rural India.

You can find me on Twitter at @borkarabhijeet

Introducing Amanda Bauer

This week features  Amanda Bauer.  Amanda is a research astronomer and outreach officer at the Australian Astronomical Observatory (AAO) based in Sydney, Australia. She started this 50/50 role one year ago and is still exploring how to maximise both research and science communication without working WAY too much!

Her research explores variations in how galaxies form, how they live their lives, and how they evolve into the diverse array of galaxy species we see today.  She uses surveys with thousands or hundreds of thousands of galaxies, like GAMA and the SAMI Galaxy Survey, to investigate what physical processes regulate star formation inside galaxies that live in different cosmic environments.

Her passion for science communication through her personal @astropixie account has lead to her ability to do this as 50% of her official job. As the first outreach officer at the AAO, she is developing a strategy to capture and communicate the excitement of new astronomical discoveries and innovative engineering feats occurring within the AAO and the astronomical community.

Introducing Karen Masters

Dr. Karen Masters is an astronomer studying extragalactic astronomy at the Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation, University of Portsmouth. She uses information from large surveys of the sky to search for clues about how galaxies formed and evolve over cosmic time. This includes information on the shapes and types of galaxies provided by citizen scientists via the Galaxy Zoo project (www.galaxyzoo.org). Dr. Masters has been a member of the Galaxy Zoo science team since 2008, and Project Scientist since 2013.

Karen is also a member of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey – the survey which provided the original images for Galaxy Zoo. She is Director of Outreach and Public Engagement for SDSS as well as having leading role in the MaNGA (Mapping Nearby Galaxies at APO) survey which has just recently started observations on the Sloan telescope.

Karen normally tweets about her adventures in astronomy research as @KarenLMasters.

Introducing Michael Rutkowski

This week features Michael Rutkowski, a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Minnesota’s Institute for Astrophysics.  Michael recently finished his Ph.D. research in 2013 at Arizona State University. There, as in Minnesota, Michael has focused on the formation and evolution of galaxies across the Hubble Sequence.   His dissertation research was primarily focused on the star formation histories of early-type galaxies, a broad class of massive galaxies which were once roundly assumed to be “red and dead” and lacking recent star formation.  Using UV-optical imaging of these galaxies,  he and collaborators have shown the picture of ETG evolution to be a bit more complicated.

While at Minnesota, he continues to use the Hubble Space Telescope, space-based UV observatories, and large ground-based facilities for the study of galaxy evolution, though his research now is primarily focused on dwarf star-forming galaxies and their role in cosmic reionization.  In addition to the astrophysics of galaxies, Michael is also generally interested in the development of techniques and algorithms for quantitatively assessing multi-wavelength galaxy morphologies.  Outside of the lab, Michael enjoys making galileoscopes with students around the US, teaching public classes on general astronomy at the local learning annex, and learning more of the cosmologies of the native peoples of the places where he’s been lucky enough to live during his term as a science migrant.

Michael tweets regularly at @mjrutkow