Introducing Joanna Bridge

Joanna Bridge is a sixth-year PhD candidate at Pennsylvania State University in University Park, Pennsylvania. She studies galaxy evolution using emission lines to study properties such as star formation rate, mass, metallicity, and dust geometry. Using Hubble Space Telescope (HST) spectroscopic data, Joanna is particularly interested in tracing the evolution of emission lines across cosmic time, from nearby galaxies to the very first galaxies that formed in the universe.

Joanna received her B.S. in Engineering Physics from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign.  In addition to studying physics, she also acquired minors in both Astronomy and Classical Civilizations, interests that are connected through the history of astronomy and Greco-Roman mythology. As a graduate student, she was the recipient of a National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship and a NASA Pennsylvania Space Grant Fellowship. She spent last year pursuing her research at Stockholm University in Stockholm, Sweden as an NSF Graduate Research Opportunities Worldwide (GROW) Fellow.  Outside of research, Joanna is a member of the Astrobites (link here to team, distilling current astronomical research papers and writing summaries to share astronomy with a wider audience.  In her free time, Joanna likes to read and do karaoke.

Introducing Jessica Noviello

Jessica Noviello (@jessicanoviello) is a third-year PhD candidate at the School of Earth and Space Exploration (SESE) at Arizona State University in Tempe, AZ. Her research focuses on chaos on Jupiter’s ocean moon, Europa, and how it relates to heating patterns within icy moons. How chaos forms is still an open question due to a lack of high-resolution imaging at a global or regional scale, but evidence strongly indicates that liquid water is involved in its creation. Knowing the global distribution of chaos better will help refine chaos formations models to learn about how heat and liquid water are transported within an icy shell, which has implications for planetary evolution and astrobiology. Besides Europa and other icy moons, her academic research interests include asteroids, paleontology, and statistics.

Jessica received her BS degree from the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD in Physics and Earth and Planetary Sciences. While there she was the first student accepted to the new Space Science and Technology minor program, which she helped to develop and popularize. She actively pursues opportunities for science communication by sharing scientific updates on social media and volunteering for organizations like Science Olympiad. When she is not absorbed in her Europa research, Jessica enjoys hiking, reading, playing board games and heckling bad science-fiction movies with her friends, and practicing Krav Maga.

Introducing Fiona Panther

Fiona Panther is a PhD student at the Australian National University’s Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics in Canberra, Australia. Her work spans theoretical, computational and observational astrophysics, and she focuses on understanding how positrons propagate in astrophysical plasmas and galactic outflows, how host galaxy environments influence peculiar thermonuclear supernovae and their progenitors, and how the rates of peculiar supernovae vary over cosmic time. She is a member of the SkyMapper telescope team, based at ANU, as well as the Dark Energy Survey and the related spectroscopic followup survey OzDES.

She was born in Northumberland in the UK, and emigrated to New Zealand with her family when she was 15. She received a BSc(Hons) degree in mathematics and physics from the University of Auckland. Her honours project focussed on the effects of General Relativity on the dynamics of the Milky Way’s nuclear star cluster. She moved to Australia in mid-2015 to start her PhD at ANU.

Fiona contributes a substantial amount of time to education and outreach. She has worked as a teaching assistant, laboratory demonstrator and guest lecturer at both the University of Auckland and the Australian National University for a number of courses. She particularly enjoys working with school groups that visit the Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics, and was among those who helped prepare Mt Stromlo’s Visitor Center for its reopening in September 2016.

Outside of astronomy, Fiona has a strong interest in mathematics, computational techniques and bibliometrics. When not working on her PhD, she can be found playing ultimate frisbee or exploring Canberra on her bike.

Introducing Leo Burtscher

Leo was born in Austria but grew up in both California and Germany. After finishing his PhD at MPIA in Heidelberg he moved to Garching to work on the next generation VLTI GRAVITY interferometer. He is now a faculty member at Sterrewacht Leiden working on instruments for the European Extremely Large Telescope as well as continuing his research into the central regions of active galactive nuclei.

Introducing Abigail Stevens

Abigail Stevens is a PhD candidate at the Anton Pannekoek Institute for Astronomy at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands. She researches X-ray spectral variability from compact objects (stellar-mass black holes and neutron stars) in order to understand the extreme physics in strong gravitational fields, and is very excited for NICER to be launched in a few months. Abbie is also a “pythonomer” and is involved in the open science community. Previously, Abbie did her MSc at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and her BA at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, USA. In addition to her astronomy research, she enjoys tea, interior design, memes, reading blogs, watching tv, and exploring new places.

Introducing John Bochanski

John Bochanski is an Assistant Profesor of Physics at Rider University in Lawrenceville, New Jersey.  His astronomy research is focused on using cool stars (both dwarfs and giants) to understand the structure and dynamics of the Milky Way.  John has primarily used survey data, including the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, 2MASS, UKIDSS and others.  In addition to his survey work, John helped build and commission FIRE, an IR spectrograph on the Magellan telescopes.  John also periodically writes for Sky & Telescope.

Introducing Jeffrey Simpson

Jeffrey Simpson (@DoctorJeph) is a postdoctoral fellow at the Australian Astronomical Observatory (AAO) based in Sydney. His research focuses on globular clusters, in particular, the chemical abundances of their stars. He makes use of spectra to investigate the abundances of elements like carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and sodium to try and unravel the multiple populations of stars that exist in these peculiar stellar conglomerations. Recently he has focused on low mass clusters to try and find if there is a mass limit to multiple populations. Along with research, he provides support for users of the Anglo-Australian Telescope (AAT), especially people making use of their fibre-fed spectrographs: HERMES and AAOmega. He is also trying (and will eventually succeed at) at putting together the AAT schedule for the six months starting in February 2017.

He is involved with the GALAH survey (@galahsurvey), where he occasionally tweets as well) which is using HERMES on the AAT to acquire high-resolution spectra of one million stars in our Milky Way. GALAH will determine the temperature, gravity, overall metallicity for these stars, but more crucially, the abundance of over 20 different elements. He spends a lot of nights observing for GALAH.

He grew up in the town of Invercargill, New Zealand, home to amongst other things tuatara and the southernmost large pyramid in the world. From there he did his undergraduate and PhD at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch from 2010 to 2014. He did a short stint at Macquarie University before moving down the road to the AAO in 2015.