Re-introducing Kat Volk

I’m Kat Volk (@kat_volk), a staff scientist at the University of Arizona’s Department of Planetary Sciences/Lunar and Planetary Laboratory in Tucson, Arizona. My research mostly involves a mix of theoretical and observational studies of trans-Neptunian objects (aka Kuiper belt objects) in the outer solar system, with a focus on how their orbits can help us understand the dynamical history of the giant planets in our solar system. I also study the dynamics of exoplanet systems like those discovered by the Kepler mission.

I got my PhD in planetary science from the University of Arizona in 2013. I then spent two years working at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, mostly as part of the Outer Solar System Origins Survey (OSSOS) which discovered more than 800 objects in the outer solar system. I moved back to Tucson in 2015 to continue a variety of research projects. You can find research updates on my website: katvolk.com.

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Introducing Jielai Zhang

During her PhD at the University of Toronto, Jielai (@zhangjielai) helped build the Dragonfly Telephoto Array, the world’s best telescope for low surface brightness observations of the Universe. She led the development of the image processing software for Dragonfly. The team, led by Prof. Roberto
Abraham and Prof. Pieter van Dokkum, discovered a new class of galaxies called ultra-diffuse galaxies, a subset of which has been shown to be strangely devoid of dark matter.  Jielai also led studies of galaxy disks and dust in the Milky Way, co-supervised by Prof. Peter Martin.

For her first postdoc, Jielai is pivoting to medical imaging on a Schmidt Science Fellowship. She is in Prof. Alison Noble’s group working on applications of deep learning for fetal health monitoring. Her goal is to produce atlases of the developing fetal brain using 3D ultrasound data for fetuses affected by congenital heart disease or were born small for their gestational age. She will also use routine fetal ultrasound videos and related multi-modal data to explore the systematic improvement of clinical image recording.

Equipped with new image analysis and deep learning techniques, Jielai will move to Australia in late 2019 to uncover the mysteries of how the Universe changes second to second.

Re-introducing Gautham Narayan

I’m Gautham Narayan (@gsnarayan). I study supernovae and other things that go bump in the night. I work on identifying and classifying them very early with machine learning, understanding their progenitor systems, finding the electromagnetic counterparts of gravitational wave sources, calibrating their brightness and using them to constrain the nature of dark energy, and I’m studying the interplay between these stellar deaths and their environments. I’m currently the Lasker Data Science Fellow at the Space Telescope Science Institute (@stsci), and I’m particularly excited to talk exploding stars with you this week because we’ve got TWO awesome meetings about this field, so you’ll hear about the forefront of our field and meet some of the awesome people I work with! I grew up in India, the UK and Ireland, moved to Illinois Wesleyan for my undergraduate work, Harvard for my Ph.D., and the National Optical Astronomy Observatory for my postdoctoral work. I’m delighted to be moving to the University of Illinois this Fall. Aside from science, there may also be tweeting about the academic job search, baby owls, building the LEGO Millennium Falcon, re-watching Marvel movies, hiking outside Baltimore, and ranting about how my dog Kepler has stolen my dinner/place on the bed/heart.

Introducing Joshua Lothringer

I’m Joshua Lothringer (@JDLothringer). I’m a PhD candidate in my final semester at the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory at the University of Arizona. I did my undergrad in astronomy from the University of Colorado at Boulder where I worked at the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics operating several NASA spacecraft, including the Kepler space telescope and the Student Dust Counter on New Horizons. I also worked on the science team of the MAVEN mission to Mars. In the fall, I’ll be moving to Baltimore to postdoc at Johns Hopkins University and work with folks at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI).

My research has focused on studying exoplanet atmospheres. I’ve been lucky enough to observe and model exoplanet atmospheres. I’ve used observations from HST/STIS to study Neptune and sub-Neptune sized exoplanets, as well as done some ground-based observing work at MMT. I’ve also used the PHOENIX stellar atmosphere model to simulate the atmospheres of the hottest Jovian exoplanets.

Outside of my research time, I like to read (mostly sci-fi), play video games, watch sitcoms, play guitar, and walk by partner’s doge.

Introducing Sarah McIntyre

I’m Sarah McIntyre (@ExoBioExplorer) a PhD student at the Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the Australian National University.

My current research aims to examine the effect that a diverse range of astronomical and planetary parameters have on an exoplanet’s ability to sustain liquid water. I spend most of my time working on exoplanet models and simulations and doing lab experiments. Long term research plans include helping determine optimal targets for near-future ground- and space-based observations of planetary atmospheres and the potential detection of life in space.

When not exploring exoplanets I read (lately mainly about AI/machine learning), compose, play piano (or violin) and travel.

Introducing Haley Wahl

I’m Haley Wahl (@hwahl16) and I’m a PhD student in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at West Virginia University. I’m originally from New England and I did my undergraduate at the University of Vermont. My main research interest is pulsars. I love pulsars because each of them is different and they exhibit weird phenomena like nulling (where they just randomly stop pulsing for a period of time and we have no idea why!). They’re a ton of fun to study and we can learn about neutron stars, equations of state, the interstellar medium, gravitational waves, plasma physics, and so much more from them.

During my time at UVM, I worked with Dr. Joanna Rankin studying two pulsars that exhibit an emission phenomenon called “swooshing” and also started a project on pulsar emission geometry at low frequencies. I’m currently working with Dr. Maura McLaughlin with the NANOGrav collaboration (the Nanohertz Observatory for Gravitational Waves, a collaboration that is working to detect gravitational waves using pulsar timing) on studying the polarization and rotation measures of a set of 40 pulsars.

In addition to doing research, I’ve recently fallen in love with science outreach! I work at WVU’s planetarium putting on shows for the public and love getting people excited about space. I frequently talk to classes through the Skype a Scientist program and love sharing my knowledge about space with elementary and middle school classes and telling them what it’s like to be a scientist. I recently started writing for AstroBites and once a month, I get to take a really cool paper that may be a little bit technical and bring it down to a level that everyone can understand. I’ve always loved writing so I’m so happy to have found AstroBites.

When I’m not at my computer exploring the mysteries of pulsars, you can find me in the kitchen trying my hand at yet another pastry (I’ve been inspired lately by The Great British Baking Show), in my running shoes exploring another part of Morgantown, or with a book in my hand. I’m also part of the Physics and Astronomy Graduate Student Organization (PAGSO) at WVU and am currently the secretary of the Graduate and Professional Student Senate, a group that is dedicated to keeping graduate students involved in what’s going on at WVU.

Introducing Andrew Mann

I’m Andrew Mann (@amannastro) a new assistant professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Before coming to North Carolina, I was a Hubble Postdoctoral Fellow at Columbia University, before which I was the Harlan J. Smith Fellow at University of Texas and Austin after getting my PhD from University of Hawaii at Manoa in 2013. My research focuses on the evolution of planetary systems. Primarily, I search through data from the K2 and TESS transiting planet surveys to find young (10-650 million year old) planets and compare their properties to similar older planets statistically.

I also work on fundamental stellar properties (chemical composition, radius, mass, temperature). Primarily I study low-mass and young stars as a means to better understand the planets orbiting them (we only know a planet as well as we know its host star). I am just getting involved with the design and building of small satellites (CubeSats) to answer fundamental questions about astrophysics.

Outside astronomy, my primary interests are hiking, traveling, eating exotic food, sci-fi books, and board games. I am also slightly obsessed with my cat.