Introducing Rachael Ainsworth

Rachael Ainsworth (@rachaelevelyn) is a Research Associate at the Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics (JBCA) at the University of Manchester. Her expertise lies in the interpretation of radio emission from protostellar systems in nearby star forming regions, particularly at very long (metre) wavelengths. Her primary research interests include astrophysical jets/outflows, star formation and evolution. She works on the Horizon 2020 RadioNET “Radio Interferometry Next Generation Software” (RINGS) project to develop software for calibrating dispersive delay corrections in long baseline radio interferometry for long wavelength telescopes such as the Low Frequency Array (LOFAR).

She is Open Science Champion for the Interferometry Centre of Excellence at JBCA, where she promotes, advocates and organises events relating to open science in astronomy. She is also a Mozilla Open Leader running the open project Resources for Open Science in Astronomy (ROSA), which aims to compile and tailor open science best practices from around the web into a toolkit for astronomers to work openly from proposal to publication. This project seeks input from the entire astronomy community, so feel to bookmark and become a contributor to the project in the coming weeks.

Rachael also organises the Manchester chapter of XX+Data (@xxplusdatamcr) – a community for women who work with and love data. The goal of the community is to bring together women with diverse expertise and experience to support one another, share experiences and talk data.


Introducing Ben Montnet

Ben Montet (@benmontet) is a NASA Sagan Fellow at the University of Chicago. He works to find and characterize planets with Kepler and K2, and soon, the upcoming TESS mission. He also uses Kepler data to better understand stellar activity through observations of long-term brightness variations of stars. (Ask him about KIC 8462852, or “Boyajian’s Star.”)
Ben is originally from the Chicagoland area, receiving his BS from the University of Illinois before heading to sunny California for his PhD at Caltech. When he’s not in the office, he enjoys traveling, watching the Cubs, and exploring his old and new hometown of Chicago.

Introducing Nick Attree

Nick Attree (@nick_attree) is a postdoctoral researcher at the Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Marseille (@LAM_Marseille) in France. He works on the MiARD (Multi Instrument Analysis of Rosetta Data) project, using modelling and data from ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft to explore the physical and mechanical properties of comet 67P. In particular, he uses OSIRIS camera images to analyse surface features, such as overhanging cliffs and fractures, to investigate the mechanical strength of the nucleus material, as well as navigation and position data, to measure the effects of outgassing on the comet’s orbit.
Nick completed his PhD at Queen Mary University of London, working with Cassini data on collisions in Saturn’s F ring. Before that, he obtained his MPhys degree in Physics with Planetary Science from Leicester University. Outside of research, he enjoys football (watching and playing), walking, reading, sci-fi, music and coffee and exploring his new, adopted home in the sunny South of France!

Introducing Meenakshi Wadhwa

Meenakshi (Mini) Wadhwa (@minwadhwa) is Director of the Center for Meteorite Studies (@ASUMeteorites) and Professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration (@SESEASU) at Arizona State University. Her research focuses on the origin and evolution of the Solar System and planets through geochemical and isotopic studies of meteorites, Moon rocks and other extraterrestrial samples returned by spacecraft missions. She has hunted for meteorites in Antarctica with the NASA- and NSF-funded Antarctic Search for Meteorites (ANSMET) Program.

Mini holds a PhD in Earth and Planetary Science from Washington University in St. Louis. Following her doctorate, she was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California at San Diego, and was subsequently appointed as Curator of Meteorites at the Field Museum in Chicago. She moved to ASU in 2006 and has been there since. At ASU, she feels incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to work with some wonderfully talented students and colleagues, and loves the variety and the challenge afforded by the diverse responsibilities of her position. Outside of work, she enjoys outdoors activities; she loves hiking, running, biking and swimming. She received her pilot’s license (single engine rating) when she moved to Arizona, and enjoys scuba diving as well.

Introducing Will Armentrout

Will Armentrout (@WillArmentrout) is a doctoral student at West Virginia University in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. A graduate of Westminster College (@WestminsterPA), his roots are in Ford City, Pennsylvania, a glass town northeast of Pittsburgh. He’s in his last year of graduate school at WVU, studying high-mass star formation and Galactic HII regions with Prof. Loren Anderson (@Loren__Anderson). HII regions are areas of ionized gas surrounding young, high-mass stars and can help us to understand the structure, formation, and chemistry of galaxies. Will’s current project involves observing HII regions in the most distant molecular spiral arm within the Milky Way, known as the Outer Scutum-Centaurus spiral arm.

Will is spending this week at the Green Bank Telescope (@IamGBT), smack in the center of the National Radio Quiet Zone, which will certainly make tweeting a bit difficult! Primarily a radio astronomer, he is the principal investigator on projects with the GBT and the Very Large Array (@TheNRAO). He has recently moved into optical astronomy, though, with a project at the Gemini North Observatory (@GeminiObs).

Outside of research, he co-founded the West Virginia University Science Policy Organization (@WVUScience) in 2014. The group aims to open communication channels between university scientists and policy makers on the state and federal level and to also convey the importance (and excitement!) of basic and applied scientific research to the public. He also serves as president of the WVU Graduate and Professional Student Senate (@WVUGPSS), a group dedicated to keeping graduate students part of the larger campus conversation at WVU.