Introducing Nathalie Ouellette

Dr. Nathalie Ouellette is currently a Research Associate with the Department of Physics, Engineering Physics and Astronomy at Queen’s University in Kingston, Canada. Born and raised in Montreal, Canada, she graduated from McGill University’s Honours Physics program in 2010 before starting her graduate studies at Queen’s where she obtained her Ph.D. in 2016. Her main research interests are galaxy formation, evolution, dynamics, and scaling relations especially in the Virgo Cluster. She is a key member of the Spectroscopy and H-band Imaging of Virgo (SHIVir) team, and the PI of its spectroscopic component. She’s had the honour and pleasure of travelling to the Apache Point Observatory (Sunspot, New Mexico) and the Very Large Telescope (Paranal, Chile) to collect spectroscopic data firsthand for the program to determine the kinematics of Virgo galaxies and tie these into scaling relations.
Dr. Ouellette developed a passion for science communication and outreach early on during her undergrad, and knew she wanted to make it an integral part of her career moving forward. She managed the Queen’s Observatory for nearly 6 years and led the Queen’s Astronomy Research Group’s outreach efforts during her graduate studies, and only fell more in love with talking to people about how incredibly awesome astronomy is. She’s a frequent contributor in the media on astronomy news and enjoys bringing her love of space to people everywhere from classrooms to science festivals to conferences. Making science accessible to anyone and everyone is one of her main goals. You’ll find her slightly off-kilter sense of humour peppered throughout her website:
She has a wonderful husband and together, they have a dog named Epsilon. In her free time, you’ll most likely find her hanging precariously off a rock climbing wall, forcing her husband to watch really awful movies, or painting some nebulae for her family

Introducing Karen Masters

Dr. Karen Masters (@KarenLMasters) is a Reader in Astronomy and Astrophysics at the Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation, University of Portsmouth. Her research interests are in the area of extragalactic astronomy typically using data from large surveys. She is the Spokesperson for the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS-IV; @sdssurveys), a job which involves maintaining the scientific collaboration, working on press releases and co-ordinating the SDSS Data Release paper among other things. Karen regularly observes with the Green Bank Telescope at 21cm to measure the neutral hydrogen content of galaxies in the SDSS-IV MaNGA (Mapping Nearby Galaxies at APO; @MaNGAsurvey) survey sample. She is also the Project Scientist for Galaxy Zoo (@galaxyzoo) and often uses information on galaxy shapes and types collected from this citizen science project in her research.

Dr. Masters is a passionate advocate for the use of citizen science in research, and the benefits this brings to both researchers and the members of the public who participate. She has published numerous papers making use of Galaxy Zoo classifications, and has also investigate the scientific learning which happens when people engage with citizen science projects.

Dr. Masters grew up in the Midlands of the UK, was state-school educated and went on to read Physics at Oxford (Wadham College) where she graduated top of the BA class in 2000. She moved to the US to study for a PhD in Astronomy at Cornell University, and spent 3 years working as a researcher at the Harvard College Observatory before moving back to the UK in 2008. In 2014 she had the honour of being named the British “Women of the Future” for Science, as well as being listed as of the BBC’s “100 Women”. She is married to a fellow academic and is the mother of two young children.

Introducing Franco Vazza

Franco Vazza  (@franco_vazza) is an astrophysicists who uses large cosmological simulations ( to understand how elusive processes in the Universe work.
After getting is PhD from the University of Bologna (Italy) in 2009, he spent several nice years of Post-Doc at the Jacobs University in Bremen and at the Observatory of Hamburg (Germany). He is currently a Post-Doc Fellow co-funded by the Italian Institute of Astrophysics (INAF) and the the Horizon2020 initiative of the European Union, through the Marie Slodowska Curie Initiative Astrofit2.

In particular, he is interested in non-thermal processes in galaxy clusters and in cosmic filaments, like the  acceleration of cosmic rays, the onset of plasma turbulent motions and the origin of extragalactic magnetic fields.
Complex simulations (often involving ad-hoc code development) are necessary to model how each of these processes may emerge during the formation of cosmic structure, and in order to compare as closely as possible with the real observations coming from radio, X-ray and gamma telescopes.

His long term project MAGCOW (The MAGnetised COsmic Web) has recently received and ERC Starting Grant from the European Union, and will be based from the 1st of September 2017 at the University of Bologna and at the University of Hamburg. The most ambitious goal of this project is to enable the Square Kilometer Array to use its future deep observations to have sure detections of the rarefied cosmic web   (, and to assess the most likely origin of magnetic fields.

His homepage (including pretty pictures and movies of his work) is
He is also a long time contributor to the Italian astro-amateur magazine “Le Stelle”.

Introducing James Guillochon

James Guillochon is currently a postdoc at the Institute for Theory and Computation in the Harvard astronomy department. He studies the  tidal disruptions of stars by supermassive black holes and supernovae, runs hydrodynamical simulations to figure out their physics, and compares model predictions to observed data. He maintains Vox Charta and the Open Astronomy Catalogs (AKA Astrocats)

Introducing Jennifer Piatek

Jennifer Piatek is an associate professor at Central Connecticut State University, where she teaches introductory courses in geology, astrobiology, and planetary astronomy as well as the occasional upper level course in planetary geology or remote sensing. Her research projects involve analysis of thermal infrared images of Mars with the goal of a better understanding the geologic processes that have affected the surface, as well as modeling of lab measurements of light scattering from analog materials. She also is active in projects that use advances in technology to help improve geoscience education through the use of high resolution panoramic images in the classroom and developing inclusive field experiences for students of differing abilities (with the benefit that both of these are great reasons to visit interesting geology, whether just down the road or a long plane flight away).
She was previously a postdoc at the University of Tennessee, and earned a PhD from the University of Pittsburgh in 2003, an M.S. from Arizona State University, and a B.S. in Physics from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. When off campus (indeed there is such a place), she spends too much time consuming popular science fiction and fantasy, and not enough time outdoors.

Introducing Ryan Anderson

Dr. Ryan B. Anderson (@Ryan_B_Anderson) is a planetary scientist at the U.S. Geological Survey Astrogeology Science Center in Flagstaff, AZ, where he works on a mix of research and software development.  He got his PhD in Planetary Science from Cornell University. His thesis research played a role in the selection of Gale Crater as the landing site for the Curiosity Mars rover, and his work on analyzing Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS) data with neural networks and other methods led to a role on the ChemCam science team. Ryan is also a member of the science team for the SuperCam instrument on the upcoming Mars 2020 rover and has a few smaller grants of his own, including two Mars geomorphology projects, and one to develop an open-source Python tool for analyzing LIBS (and other) spectra. He is also involved in a NASA-funded project to develop planetary science-themed after school activities for middle school students.

Ryan is passionate about science communication and education. He founded the Martian Chronicles blog, and enjoys giving public talks and generally sharing the excitement of science and planetary exploration.

Outside of work, Ryan enjoys spending time with his wife, baby, and two dogs. He also writes at his personal blog about non-science topics, and sometimes dabbles in fiction writing. He spends too much time on social media, and not enough on fun things like hiking and skiing.