Introducing Richard Scalzo

This week’s Astrotweeps host is Richard Scalzo.  Richard earned his Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Chicago in 2004, where he contributed to the design, construction, and operation of the STACEE high-energy gamma ray telescope.  He has held postdoctoral positions in astrophysics at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Yale University, and most recently at the Australian National University, where he studied the progenitors and explosion physics of type Ia supernovae.  At ANU, he also led the ongoing development and operation of a search for type Ia supernovae in data from the SkyMapper robotic telescope, including the crowdsourced “Snapshot Supernova” project in collaboration with the Zooniverse citizen science community, as featured on BBC Two’s Stargazing Live in March 2015.
Richard currently works as a Research Engineer in the new Centre for Translational Data Science at the University of Sydney.  His main role is to develop probabilistic graphical models of human metabolism, to be deployed for discovery in basic biological science and for personalized medicine.  He remains engaged with the astronomical community and hopes to continue working on astronomy-related data science projects from time to time.  He tweets as @scalzonova on Twitter.

Introducing Gautham Narayan

This week’s Astrotweeps host is Gautham Narayan (@gsnarayan Gautham is an astrophysicist who likes stuff that blows up – explosive transients – particularly supernovae! He moved to the US in 2001 and got his BS in Physics at Illinois Wesleyan, where he worked with Prof. Linda French (@ispahan1) working on Jovian Trojans and Damocloids. From there he moved to grad school at Harvard University where he worked with Prof. Christopher Stubbs and Prof. Robert Kirshner. He got his PhD in Physics using type Ia supernovae from the ESSENCE and Pan-STARRS surveys to study the accelerating rate of expansion of the Universe, and the equation of state of the dark energy, w.

He began his post-doctoral career at the National Optical Astronomy Observatory ( in Tucson, AZ, where he used the Hubble Space Telescope to establish a set of faint DA White Dwarfs as spectrophotometric standards for LSST and future surveys to address the largest source of systematic bias with SNIa cosmology surveys. These days, he works with the Computer Science department at University of Arizona on the ANTARES (Arizona-NOAO Transient Alert and Response to Events System) project, using machine learning techniques to characterize transients using their light curves, and identify the rarest, most interesting objects. He also works on education and outreach with the NOAO EPO office, and organizes Astronomy on Tap in Tucson (@space_drafts).

When he’s not sciencing, he’s hanging out with friends and his dog, Kepler, wandering town & listening to local musical acts, working on his photography (, hiking, and he’s known to get passionate about politics and equity in astronomy and society.

Introducing Jennifer Hoffman

This week features Jennifer Hoffman. Jennifer is an associate professor of Physics & Astronomy at the University of Denver. However, she is on sabbatical from DU and is currently visiting the University of Wisconsin, where she received her Ph.D. Jennifer studies evolved massive stars and supernovae, with particular interests in binary interactions and circumstellar material. She uses observational spectropolarimetry and computational modeling to discover connections between core-collapse supernova explosions and their massive progenitor stars.

Now that she has tenure, Jennifer is also reviving longstanding interests in science education, public outreach, and diversifying the STEM community. She is still a relative Twitter newbie, but suspects that it can be a powerful tool for all of these purposes (and science too!). She normally tweets at @astroprofhoff, and her website is

Introducing Branden Allen

This week features Branden Allen, a staff astronomer at the Harvard College Observatory, part of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA). Branden’s research has primarily been focused on the development and deployment of next generation X/γ-Ray wide field monitors with the goal of detecting and characterizing a wide range of
high energy phenomena such as Gamma-Ray Bursts (GRBs) and Supernova. He began his career as graduate student at the University of California, Irvine with the Milagro project (a water Cherenkov all sky TeV γ-ray monitor) and, after graduating in 2007, moved to the CfA joining the ProtoEXIST collaboration which has successfully launched two next generation CdZnTe (CZT) hard X-ray telescopes in two balloon payloads in 2009 and 2012.

In a strange twist of fate he has recently joined the science team of the OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample return mission, and has become engaged in the study of near earth objects (NEOs). Here he has been active in the development of the REgolith X-Ray Imaging Spectrometer (REXIS), a joint Harvard-MIT effort which is the student instrument for
OSIRIS-REx that will characterize the elemental composition of the surface of the asteroid 101955 Bennu. OSIRIS-REx is slated for launch in September of 2016, will reach Bennu in 2018, and return a sample to Earth in 2023.

You can find Branden the rest of the year on Twitter at @fermi_lives