Introducing Jennifer Sobeck
Jennifer Sobeck is a Senior Scientist in the Department of Astronomy at the University of Virginia. She is a participant in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey IV (SDSS-IV) and serves as the Deputy Project Manager for one of its cornerstone projects, the Apache Point Galactic Evolution Experiment 2 (APOGEE-2). With the employment of data from a high-resolution, near-infrared spectrograph situated at Apache Point Observatory in New Mexico, she works with a cadre of people to generate accurate kinematic and chemical information for hundreds of thousands of Milky Way stars. Additionally, Jennifer is a member of the team that is building a second near-infrared instrument to be located at Las Campanas Observatory in Chile, effectively making APOGEE-2 a dual hemisphere survey.
Jennifer’s research is centered on the chemical composition of stellar populations and relatedly, chemical evolution in the various components of the Galaxy. She is also interested in stellar astrophysics and the use of fundamental physics data to improve the derivation of stellar parameters. As a member of a large-scale data project, Jennifer is keen to develop efficient data extraction and utilization techniques and enjoys searches for patterns and correlations in the data (well, usually).
Jennifer received an undergraduate degree from the University of Texas at Austin, majoring in Physics. She took a brief detour into biophysics and medicine for a couple of years. Realizing that she was a glutton for a different type of punishment, Jennifer changed course and obtained a MA (2003) and a Ph.D. (2007) in Physics at UT-Austin. Her dissertation research focused on the generation of high quality atomic input data and the continued development of a radiative transfer code in order to extract robust element abundances in stars (with supervisors Chris Sneden and Roger Bengtson). Jennifer completed postdoctoral positions at the European Southern Observatory, the University of Chicago and the Observatoire de le Cote d’Azur, before landing a long-term position. Currently, she is splitting time between UVa and UW-Seattle.
Introducing Daniel Majaess
Daniel Majaess’ primary research interest pertains to improving the reliability of the cosmic distance scale. Establishing a reliable distance scale is crucial for determining the expansion rate of the Universe, the age of the Universe, and facilitating efforts to delineate the structure of our Milky Way galaxy. Dan presently divides his time between research as a member of ESO’s VVV survey, and instructing astronomy and physics at Saint Mary’s University and Mount Saint Vincent University. He likewise enjoys contributing articles to Universe Today news site, which was started by fellow Canadian Fraser Cain. Regarding the structure of our Milky Way galaxy, Dan remarks that unfortunately our presence within the plane of the Galaxy hampers efforts to map its structure. Indeed, there is currently no consensus on the number or nature of the Galaxy’s spiral arms and its central structure. Dan Majaess is a Canadian astronomer based in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Introducing Jennifer Johnson
Dr. Jennifer Johnson is a professor in the Department of Astronomy at Ohio State University. She studies the formation and evolution of the Milky Way and its satellite galaxies and the origin of the elements. Her favorite element is arsenic, followed closely by ytterbium. Jennifer is currently the Spokesperson of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey and is particularly involved in the @APOGEEsurvey of the compositions and motions of hundreds of thousands of Milky Way stars. She should really be writing the Data Release 13 paper right now.
Jennifer grew up as a Foreign Service brat in Arlington, Virginia, Prague, Czechoslovakia, Trindid and Tobago, and Bonn, West Germany. She received her B.A. in physics at Carleton College and her Ph.D. in astronomy and astrophysics from UC Santa Cruz. Her PhD with Mike Bolte focused on deriving ages for stars using the radioactive element thorium, and she continues to try and guess the ages and masses of stars. After postdoctoral fellowships at @CarnegieAstro in Pasadena and at the Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics in Victora, British Columbia, Jennifer moved to Columbus, Ohio to join the faculty at Ohio State. She is one of the tweeters from the @sdssurveys and @APOGEEsurvey accounts as well as tweeting personally as @jajohnson51.