Introducing Oliver Hall

Oliver Hall (@asteronomer) is a 3rd year PhD student with the Sun, Stars & Exoplanets group at the University of Birmingham in the UK. His work is centered around the use of asteroseismology: the study of sound waves inside stars through variations we see on their surfaces. Asteroseismology is a useful tool that can give us masses and radii of stars, and can be compared to models to discover all kinds of things about stellar interiors.

Oliver is currently studying the synergies between asteroseismology and distances from the Gaia mission for stars observed by the Kepler space telscope, and hopes to soon set his sighs on stars observed by the K2 mission as well. He also participates in collaborations such as TESS Data for Asteroseismology (T’DA), working with an international group of astronomers to prepare high quality lightcurves from brand new data from the TESS space telescope, and has contributed to popular open source code such as lightkurve.

Oliver grew up abroad in Bussum in the Netherlands, before moving back to the UK for his undergraduate degree, also at Birmingham. While waiting for his code to run he can be found on twitter and writing for Astrobites. Outside of research, he loves reading, music, exploring, and pretty much every form of media.


Introducing Jo Barstow

Jo Barstow is a specialist in exoplanet atmospheres, with a particular interest in spectral retrievals and cloud properties. She is currently a Royal Astronomical Society Research Fellow at University College London, performing comparative studies of exoplanet atmospheres. She balances part time work with caring for her toddler daughter. Although she doesn’t get much time for it at the moment, she is also a keen amateur singer, actress and musician and is now an expert sheet music/toddler juggler.

Introducing Bruce Macintosh

Bruce Macintosh is an astronomer studying extrasolar planets with high-contrast imaging. His PhD was at UCLA graduating in 1994, when UCLA was first starting its world-class infrared instrumentation lab – Bruce worked on the Gemini 2-channel IR camera for Lick Observatory. After that, he took a postdoc at Lawrence Livermore National Lab and then becomes a staff scientist at LLNL through 2013. At LLNL he worked on adaptive optics systems at Lick and Keck Observatory, and was one of the founders of the NSF Center for Adaptive Optics.

Together with Christian Marois, Bruce led the team that used Keck adaptive optics to make the first-ever images of an exoplanet system – the four young giant planets orbiting HR8799. He is the Principal Investigator for the Gemini Planet Imager (GPI), an advanced AO coronagraph now on the Gemini South Telescope carrying out a survey for young planets. He also co-leads a coronagraph science team for the WFIRST instrument. He is active in astro science policy, having served on the ground-based optical/IR panel for the 2010 Decadal Survey, the Mid-Decadal Survey, and the just-completed Exoplanet Science Strategy panel.

Introducing Christian Schaller

Christian Schaller is the lead software developer for the HiRISE operations group at the Lunar and Planetary Lab at the University of Arizona. He specializes in mission planning and instrument commanding software. In addition to developing the HiRISE planning tools, he is currently developing similar tools for the CaSSIS camera for the University of Bern, one of the instruments aboard the ESA ExoMars 2016 Trace Gas Orbiter. He likes cats, robotic space exploration, prog rock, and Dungeons and Dragons.

Introducing Henry Ngo

Henry Ngo (@AstroDino; is a Plaskett Postdoctoral Fellow working at the National Research Council of Canada’s Herzberg Astronomy & Astrophysics Research Centre in Victoria, British Columbia. In addition to typing out extremely long affiliations, he is interested in the origin and evolution of giant exoplanets. Specifically, he uses the direct imaging method to search for planetary and binary star systems to reveal clues about planetary histories.
Henry is passionate about outreach and enjoys visits to Victoria-area public schools. He regularly thinks and tweets about the role of scientists in society, work-life balance for early career academics, creating a equitable, inclusive and diverse academic community, and the adventures of being a parent to a 1-year-old.

Introducing John Wenskovitch

John Wenskovitch (@wenskovitch) is a PhD student in the Computer Science Department at Virginia Tech.  His research falls in a zone combining aspects of data visualization, human-computer interaction, and machine learning.  As a part of the Discovery Analytics Center, he works to develop intelligent and interactive techniques for the visualization and exploration of high-dimensional datasets.  His past work in collaboration with astronomers involved visualizing and interactively exploring spectral flux density data from stellar merger simulations.
John is also an amateur astronomer, volunteering his free time at observatories and with his own telescopes to share the otherwise-invisible wonders that can be found telescopically to all who are interested.  He is passionate about astronomical outreach, particularly regarding light pollution and basic science education.  He currently serves as Vice-President of the Roanoke Valley Astronomical Society, and is actively involved in outreach with the Amateur Astronomers Association of Pittsburgh.
During those unfortunate nights when the moon is full or the weather is sub-par, John is also an avid science fiction reader, mediocre marathoner, accidental artist, nature enthusiast, and traveler (having set foot in 43 US states and 25 countries over the past five years).

Introducing Emily Hunt

Emily Hunt (@emilydoesastro) is a final year undergraduate at the University of Bath in the UK. She is approaching the end of a summer internship, with the aim of improving the knowledge of dust extinction to variable stars in the Magellanic clouds by using parallax data from the Gaia satellite. The past couple of months have been an adventure in learning about Bayesian statistics, variable stars, and doing large-scale data analysis in Python. Emily is also passionate about equality and diversity in science, being involved in running a Network of Women in Physics at her university and being an advocate for LGBT+ people in STEM.

In her spare time, Emily does live sound engineering and plays guitar. She grew up in Coventry in the middle of the UK, and developed her passion for space after a family move nearer to the countryside with a darker night sky. She’s also a science fiction buff, and has an arduino called Lovelace.