Introducing David Wilson

David Wilson (@astrodave2) is a postdoc at the University of Texas at Austin, having recently moved there after completing his PhD at the University of Warwick. His research focuses on observing M dwarf and white dwarf stars using Hubble and other space telescopes. He uses those observations to explore the effects of stellar activity on extrasolar planets and to study the remnants of planetary systems around dead stars. In particular, David is a member of the Mega-Muscles collaboration, which is using a large number of telescopes to produce an archive of pan-chromatic M dwarf spectra.

Along with his research, David is also interested in science communication and outreach. During his PhD he was a writer for the Astrobites collaboration and regularly visited local schools to give talks and present planetarium shows. When not working, David can usually be found reading sci-fi books or adding to his space-themed Lego collection.

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Introducing Ward Howard

Ward Howard is a PhD candidate in physics and astronomy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He researches the impact of stellar activity on the detection and habitability of exoplanets around nearby stars by measuring their optical flare rates and energies using data from the Evryscope, an ultra-wide survey of the entire visible sky every two minutes. The Evryscope has produced millions of high-cadence, multi-year stellar light-curves making feasible the long-term monitoring of nearby stars for superflares, flare rates, and starspot activity. He also works with Robo-AO, the first autonomous laser guide-star adaptive optics system, improving image quality for faint targets, particularly for follow-up of the faintest Kepler planetary candidates.

Ward grew up in High Point, NC and was initially inspired to study astronomy by the friendly and enthusiastic staff of the Jamestown, NC Cline Observatory. In 2015, Ward received a BS in physics and mathematics from Union University in Jackson, TN. As an REU student at Baylor’s Center for Astrophysics, Space Physics, and Engineering Research, he studied protoplanetary disk evolution. He enjoys good books (esp. science fiction and fantasy), coffee, physics outreach, and running/hiking.