Introducing Jennifer Johnson

Dr. Jennifer Johnson is a professor in the Department of Astronomy at Ohio State University. She studies the formation and evolution of the Milky Way and its satellite galaxies and the origin of the elements. Her favorite element is arsenic, followed closely by ytterbium. Jennifer is currently the Spokesperson of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey and is particularly involved in the @APOGEEsurvey of the compositions and motions of hundreds of thousands of Milky Way stars. She should really be writing the Data Release 13 paper right now.

Jennifer grew up as a Foreign Service brat in Arlington, Virginia, Prague, Czechoslovakia, Trindid and Tobago, and Bonn, West Germany. She received her B.A. in physics at Carleton College and her Ph.D. in astronomy and astrophysics from UC Santa Cruz. Her PhD with Mike Bolte focused on deriving ages for stars using the radioactive element thorium, and she continues to try and guess the ages and masses of stars. After postdoctoral fellowships at @CarnegieAstro in Pasadena and at the Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics in Victora, British Columbia, Jennifer moved to Columbus, Ohio to join the faculty at Ohio State. She is one of the tweeters from the @sdssurveys and @APOGEEsurvey accounts as well as tweeting personally as @jajohnson51.

Introducing Michele Bannister

Dr Michele Bannister is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Victoria, in British Columbia. She specializes in searching for icy worlds in the outer Solar System, and has been involved in the discovery of more than five hundred new trans-Neptunian objects. Michele works with the Outer Solar System Origins Survey, a collaboration of nearly fifty researchers around the world, who are trying to understand the formation and evolution of the Solar System using the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope on Maunakea.

Originally from Waitara in New Zealand, Michele studied astronomy and geology for her B.Sc (Hons) as an Aurora Scholar at the University of Canterbury, including nine weeks of geophysics field work in the Dry Valleys of Antarctica. Her PhD at Mt Stromlo Observatory of the Australian National University and at Caltech used the data from a small telescope at Siding Spring to search for bright icy worlds in the southern sky. After three years on hummingbird-rich and snow-free Vancouver Island, she’ll be moving to Belfast from August to become a Research Fellow at Queens’ University. You can find her tweeting about icy worlds and the non-sidereal life at @astrokiwi.

Introducing Demitri Muna

I am excited to be hosting week two (19-25 Jan 2014) of Astrotweeps! I am an astrophysicist who works on the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) at Ohio State University. SDSS was responsible for producing the largest color image of the sky ever made – a trillion pixels that would require half a million HDTVs to display. But that’s old news – the current phase of the survey has collected over a million spectra of stars and galaxies. A spectrum is a measurement where the light is split into different wavelengths, like that you would see through a prism. My current research interest is using this data to learn how galaxies evolve over time and even the histories of individual galaxies. I am also interested in the data science aspect of research; how we as astronomers can analyze and do science with far more data than we’ve ever had access to. It’s a good problem to have, but not a solved one. I’m also a contributor to the Astropy project. I am also interested in public outreach and run a chapter of Astronomy On Tap. In a prior life, I worked on a dark matter experiment called DRIFT, located 1.1km underground in a working mine that is a stone’s throw from where Dracula landed in England. I also curl.

I look forward to your questions on galaxy evolution, dark matter, curling, or anything else you’d like to hear about! Send questions to @astrotweeps or as a comment on this blog post. After this week, you can follow me on Twitter at @demitrimuna and @scicoder.

Introducing Niall Deacon

This week, January 13-18, 2014, features Niall Deacon.  Niall is a postdoctoral astronomer working at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg, Germany. He specialises in using large scale surveys of the sky to identify failed stars called brown dwarfs to understand how they form and the processes which go on in their atmospheres. These objects are typically the same size as Jupiter but  12-80 times as massive and much hotter. They form a bridge between giant planets and stars helping us to learn more about both. Niall also is active in astronomy outreach, producing astronomy videos such as Don’t Call Me Colin and others. When not working, he is a keen pub quizzer, supports Scotland and Falkirk FC (so is used to seeing teams in dark blue lose) and hates referring to himself in the third person.

Starting Monday, follow along with astrotweeps on Twitter, Facebook, or right here on the Astrotweeps webpage. If you have questions for Niall, you can post them in the comments below or ask him on Twitter at @astrotweeps. For the remaining 51 weeks of the year, you can follow Niall at @nialldeacon on Twitter.