Introducing Ryan Anderson

Dr. Ryan B. Anderson (@Ryan_B_Anderson) is a planetary scientist at the U.S. Geological Survey Astrogeology Science Center in Flagstaff, AZ, where he works on a mix of research and software development.  He got his PhD in Planetary Science from Cornell University. His thesis research played a role in the selection of Gale Crater as the landing site for the Curiosity Mars rover, and his work on analyzing Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS) data with neural networks and other methods led to a role on the ChemCam science team. Ryan is also a member of the science team for the SuperCam instrument on the upcoming Mars 2020 rover and has a few smaller grants of his own, including two Mars geomorphology projects, and one to develop an open-source Python tool for analyzing LIBS (and other) spectra. He is also involved in a NASA-funded project to develop planetary science-themed after school activities for middle school students.

Ryan is passionate about science communication and education. He founded the Martian Chronicles blog, and enjoys giving public talks and generally sharing the excitement of science and planetary exploration.

Outside of work, Ryan enjoys spending time with his wife, baby, and two dogs. He also writes at his personal blog about non-science topics, and sometimes dabbles in fiction writing. He spends too much time on social media, and not enough on fun things like hiking and skiing.

Reintroducing Chris Lintott

Chris Lintott is a professor of astrophysics at the University of Oxford, where he leads the team of people responsible for the Zooniverse.org collection of citizen science projects. Volunteers have used the Zooniverse to classify galaxies, discover planets (and perhaps but probably not an alien megastructure), catch supernovae and do a lot of non-astronomical things too. His own research is on galaxy evolution and formation, mostly using data from Galaxy Zoo to think about what changes star formation in galaxies. His background is a little closer to home, having completed a PhD at University College London mostly on the chemistry of star formation; he’s a big fan of triply-deuterated ammonia but likes sulphur compounds the best.

Chris is best known (in the UK at least) as the co-presenter of the BBC long-running Sky at Night program, a monthly look at the worlds of astronomy and astrophysics. This has taken him to all sorts of places, including the control room for ESA’s Rosetta mission which ends this week. He also once got the age of the Universe wrong on camera by a factor of a million. Away from research, Chris answers email. Away from email, he can be found cooking, watching theatre or opera or shouting loudly at the Chicago Fire and Torquay United. He also plays real tennis, which is far superior to the young upstart lawn tennis.

Most other days, you can find Chris on twitter at @chrislintott

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 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 Rachael Livermore

Rachael is a British astronomer working at the University of Texas at Austin. She received her Bachelors in Mathematics and Physics with Astrophysics from King’s College London, her Masters in Astronomy from the University of Sussex and her PhD from Durham University before moving to Texas as a postdoc.
Her research focuses on the most distant galaxies, trying to understand how the earliest galaxies formed and the effect they had on the reionization of the Universe in its first billion years. Her specialty is gravitational lensing, whereby galaxies that are seen behind massive galaxy clusters appear magnified.
She is also heavily involved in public outreach as the co-founder and host of Astronomy on Tap ATX (@AoTATX), a series of free astronomy talks held in a bar in Austin. She will be hosting this event for the last time this week.
Rachael usually tweets as @rhaegal.

Reintroducing Edward Gomez

Since childhood I have been fascinated by astronomy. When I realised that I could use maths and computers to do fun things with astronomy, I knew I was hooked for life. I never grew out of it and now I am lucky enough to be a professional astrophysicist. As part of my role with Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network (LCOGT) I try to find novel ways to engage the public in science by using astronomy. This has taken the form of creating citizen science projects like Agent Exoplanet, interactive educational web apps like Star in a Box, and online community events like Show Me Stars.

The global education hub for LCOGT is based in Cardiff University where I am an honourary lecturer/adjunct faculty in the School of Physics and Astronomy. One of the enjoyably parts of this position is supervising BSc. and MPhys. level undergraduate projects. This year I had 4 project students investigating extrasolar planets. I am very proud that 2 of my former project students have gone on to do PhDs.

In addition, I am part of the Schools Engagement Team and assist with the outreach of the University. We have recently been awarded funding by the Welsh Government’s National Science Academy to run the programme Universe in the Classroom, inspiring children and teachers with Universe in a Box kits and stellar role models, across Wales. Universe in the Classrom is run in partnership with the international project Universe Awareness.

I co-chair the IAU task force for children and schools, under the guidance of the Office of Astronomy for Development (OAD). Our aim is to help people in astronomically developing countries to engage with and inspire children and teachers.

I regularly appear on the BBC radio wales programmes, Science Cafe and Eleri Sion Show. I have served as guest judge for the national Debating Matters competition. Engaging with the public is fun and I have been lucky enough to do it in several pubs with Ignite Cardiff and Bright Club.

Being a life long fan of Doctor Who, I’ve been delighted to have give Science of Doctor Who talks in St Louis Science Center, and Cardiff Museum.

Currently I am working at how we make the LCOGT global telescope network exciting and accessible to a diverse audience, and what tools we need to make the most of its potential. What particularly concerns me is using the power of astronomy to inspire people who would not normally be interested in science.

I love music and play the lute. Part of me thinks that makes me closer to a renaissance astronomer, like Galileo.

You can find my blog over at Dark Matter Sheep, where I talk about science, music, films, coding, and silly things.

Introducing Elaina Hyde

I am currently a part time lecturer at the University of Western Sydney in Australia as well as the Information Support Officer for the International Telescope Office at the Australian Astronomical Observatory. I also do public astronomy tours as a guide at Sydney Observatory. All this is motivated by my passion for astronomy, physics and exploration. This passion has led me through a bachelor’s in Astronomy and Physics (with minors in Optical Engineering and Planetary Sciences) at the University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona, a research program at the Max-Plank Institute, a masters program in Astrophysics from the University of Amsterdam and my PhD studies at Macquarie University. These studies allowed me to participate in research on both optical spectra, abundances, and kinematics as well as lithographic construction of photonic crystals for use in submillimeter and radio astronomy; planetary sciences and engineering pnCCDs for X-ray astronomy.

I am very interested in observational astronomy as well as the theory behind it, and, yes, even the data management. I participated in the project ASTRO in Tucson, Arizona where we used both theory and observations to involve school teachers and their classes in astronomical research. I also enjoy giving public talks and participating in public observing or ‘star parties’ where the knowledge that I have gained can be shared with the larger community. I find the study of stars and binary stars in late stages of stellar evolution very exciting. I also enjoy planetary sciences, Archaeo-astronomy, and space sciences (in particular Mars satelite imagery via THEMIS) and exoplanet studies, although so far these have been mostly investigated in my free time. For my current science research I am primarily interested in the study of spectral features and the use of ground-based as well as space-based observatories to pursue the realm of Galactic Archaeology and Stellar Streamers in our own local group in particular the Sagittarius dwarf galaxy and its associated stream. Most recently I submitted conference proceedings for the recent ADASS meeting in Sydney on data selection techniques and a paper on the interesting black hole binary LMC X-1 from the perspective of the O star.