NASA Hubble Fellowship Program 2019 Fellows
Host Institution: Carnegie Department of Terrestrial Magnetism
Proposal Title: Constraining Initial Phases of Planet Formation
Jaehan Bae was born in Seoul, South Korea. He earned his bachelor's and master's degrees in Astronomy from Seoul National University in 2006 and 2008. He worked at Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute for three years before he moved to University of Michigan in 2011 for his PhD, which he completed in 2017. Since then he has been a Vera Rubin postdoctoral fellow at Carnegie Institution of Washington, Department of Terrestrial Magnetism.
Theoretical work has dominated the studies of planet formation, because observing planet formation was not possible. The situation is gradually changing thanks to increasingly powerful observing facilities and techniques. Observing substructures in protoplanetary disks, which may hint at on-going planet formation therein, is now routine. By using numerical simulations and simulated observations, Jaehan focuses on understanding the interactions between growing planets and their host protoplanetary disks. As a Sagan fellow, Jaehan will work to improve strategies for more direct detection of planet formation with on-going/future missions and observations. His goal is to better understand the initial phases of planet and planetary-system formation.
Host Institution: National Optical Astronomy Observatory
Proposal Title: The Evolution of Massive Stars to Supernova
Emma Beasor grew up on the Wirral in the UK, and completed her undergraduate master’s degree in the local city of Liverpool as a joint project between the University of Liverpool and Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU). She began her PhD, which she is due to complete in May, at the Astrophysics Research Institute, LJMU on a Science and Technology Facilities Council Studentship in 2015, under the supervision of Dr. Ben Davies.
Emma's research focuses on the evolution of cool supergiant stars, with the aim of further constraining the progenitor-supernova connection. To date Emma has shown conclusively that the mass loss experienced by red supergiants (the direct progenitors to the most common core-collapse supernovae) is badly over-estimated in stellar models, particularly for the late phases of evolution. As a Hubble Fellow, Emma will use observations from the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) and other observatories to provide the most accurate mass-loss measurements of cool supergiants to date, and develop a new state-of-the-art mass-loss rate prescription for use in stellar evolution calculations. She will then implement this prescription into a stellar evolution code and evolve stars to the brink of core-collapse, allowing her to make predictions for many observed properties of massive stars before their death.
Host Institution: University of Chicago
Proposal Title: Connecting Interstellar and Planetary Chemistry
Jenny Bergner grew up in Virginia and received her undergraduate degree in chemistry from the University of Virginia. She will complete her PhD at Harvard University in spring 2019, under the supervision of Karin Oberg and with support from the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.
Jenny's research is focused on tracing the formation and inheritance of organic molecules in protostars and protoplanetary disks, the evolutionary precursors to planetary systems. In principle, constraints on the chemistry at these early evolutionary stages could be used to predict the range of possible planetary environments, however, at present the importance of chemical reprocessing during the assembly of planetary systems is not well understood. As a Sagan Fellow, Jenny will use a combination of modeling and observations to explore the extent to which pristine interstellar material survives the formation of disks and planets.
Host Institution: University of Pennsylvania
Proposal Title: Improving Cosmological Constraints with the Dark Energy Survey Supernova Program and a Decade of Type Ia Supernovae
Dillon Brout grew up in North Carolina and New York State. His late uncle, theoretical physicist Robert Brout, first ignited his passion for cosmology. In 2013, Dillon graduated from the Johns Hopkins University, where he obtained a B.S. in Physics and simultaneously pursued a double degree in jazz saxophone performance at the Peabody Institute. Dillon is currently finishing his PhD in Physics and Astronomy at the University of Pennsylvania, where he has worked with Masao Sako on the Dark Energy Survey (DES). Dillon is recognized as a builder of DES.
Dillon’s research focuses on measuring the acceleration of the universe using time-domain cosmological tools. As an Einstein Fellow, Dillon will model the host galaxies and explosions of several thousand Type Ia Supernovae discovered by DES as “standard candles,” allowing him to probe the last 8 billion years of the cosmic expansion history. In addition, Dillon will utilize Binary Neutron Star Mergers, as “standard sirens,” to make an independent measurement of the rate of expansion of the universe today. By combining these datasets, which span a large range of cosmic time, Dillon hopes to make unprecedented constraints on theories for dark energy.
Host Institution: Princeton Center for Theoretical Science
Proposal Title: Simulating and Imaging Flaring Black Holes on Horizon Scales
Andrew Chael grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He attended Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in physics in 2013. He will earn a PhD in physics from Harvard University in May 2019, advised by Professor Ramesh Narayan.
As a member of the global Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) collaboration, Andrew’s research centers on the hot accretion disks and relativistic jets just outside the event horizons of the nearest supermassive black holes in the galactic center (Sgr A*), and in the giant galaxy M87. The EHT’s first images of these black holes should reveal the black hole “shadow,” a signature of strong light bending from general relativity. These images will also be powerful tests of theories of accretion, jet launching, and plasma physics in this energetic region. Andrew investigates how incorporating different theories of particle heating and acceleration into advanced numerical simulations affects the images, variability, and spectra from these objects. He also researches new approaches to producing black hole images from EHT data and using these images to test predictions from simulations.
As an Einstein fellow, Andrew will focus on the bright flares and variability from Sgr A* and other supermassive black holes. He will link simulations, images from the EHT, and multi-wavelength observations to constrain the plasma processes and flow geometries that generate these flares, and understand how they may be used to probe the space-time near the black hole event horizon.
Host Institution: University of California, Santa Cruz
Proposal Title: What Reionized the Universe?
John Chisholm grew up in Madison Wisconsin. He received his Bachelors of Science in physics from Boston College in 2010 and returned to Madison to obtain his PhD from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 2016 working with Professor Christy Tremonti. His first postdoctoral position was at the University of Geneva with Professor Daniel Schaerer, and afterwards he was an IMPS fellow at the University of California–Santa Cruz working with Professor Jason X. Prochaska.
High-mass stars die spectacularly as supernovae explosions. These explosions carry gas and metals out of star-forming regions as large-scale galactic outflows. John’s thesis work observationally constrained the total amount of gas and metals that these outflows remove from galaxies, and how the observed outflows relate to trends between galaxy properties. As a Hubble Fellow at the University of California–Santa Cruz he will develop new observational techniques to determine the number of ionizing photons produced by massive stars and whether these high-energy photons can escape from galaxies to reionize the gas between galaxies. John will use these observational techniques with upcoming observations to determine whether massive stars were sufficient to reionize the early universe.
Host Institution: Princeton University
Proposal Title: The Appearance of Disappearing Stars: Mass Ejection, Fallback Accretion, and Jets from Weak and Failed Supernovae
Eric did his graduate work at the University of Colorado, Boulder, under the supervision of Mitch Begelman, and finished his PhD in 2016. He grew up in eastern Pennsylvania, and earned his undergraduate degree from Lehigh University in 2011.
Eric's research interests are primarily in theoretical astrophysics, with particular emphasis on transient, or time-domain, phenomena. Eric uses a combination of analytical and numerical techniques to study hydrodynamics and radiative transport, ultimately to understand how cosmic explosions translate into observable events. Throughout the duration of the NHFP fellowship, he will study the aftermath of “failed supernovae,”' which occur when a massive star undergoes core-collapse, but does not yield a successful supernova. Eric will analyze the means by which these failures (ironically) power some of the most luminous transients we observe.
Host Institution: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Proposal Title: The Formation and Growth of Supermassive Black Holes at Early Cosmic Epochs
Anna-Christina Eilers was born in California, but she spent most of her life in Germany. She received her Bachelor's degree in physics from the University of Goettingen in Germany with a focus on neuroscience. After an internship at the European Space Agency in the Netherlands, she decided to study astrophysics at the University of Heidelberg. Currently she is completing her PhD at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg, where her advisors are Joe Hennawi, Hans-Walter Rix, and David W. Hogg.
Christina’s research focuses on the formation and growth of supermassive black holes in the center of quasars in the early universe. As part of her PhD, she developed a new method to estimate the lifetime of quasars, which sets a timescale on which galaxies actively accrete material to feed and grow their central supermassive black hole. She is particularly interested in the most distant quasars known to date that are observed during the Epoch of Reionization, when our universe was less than a billion years old.
As a Hubble Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Christina aims to develop new approaches to constrain the lifetime of quasars and study the evolution and interplay between galaxies and supermassive black holes. She will make use of multi-wavelength observations from the Magellan telescope in Chile, the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA), as well as NASA's upcoming James Webb Space Telescope. The goal of her research is to understand how the first galaxies, quasars, and black holes formed, and trace their evolution through cosmic time.
Christina is also interested in modelling the structure and dynamics of the Milky Way with data from the Gaia space mission. In a separate aspect of her PhD, she developed a new data-driven model to estimate precise distances to luminous red giant stars using only their spectroscopic and photometric properties, which enabled global kinematic maps of our home galaxy extending over large Galactocentric distances.
Jose María Ezquiaga
Host Institution: University of Chicago
Proposal Title: Precision Cosmology with Present- and Next-Generation Gravitational Wave Detectors
Jose María Ezquiaga grew up in Madrid, Spain. His academic record has been linked to the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, where he obtained his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Physics and Theoretical Physics and will soon earn his PhD. Along with his graduate studies, he has been a visiting scientist at the University of California at Berkeley and CERN.
Jose María’s research focuses on probing the pillars of the standard cosmological model with gravitational waves. In particular, he has proposed and applied tests of dark energy and General Relativity with multi-messenger gravitational wave events. Moreover, he has investigated how to accurately compute the abundance of black holes formed in the early universe, which have strong implications on their contribution to the dark matter and on their gravitational wave signatures. As an Einstein fellow at the University of Chicago, Jose María will exploit LIGO’s data to constrain the propagation of gravitational waves, the expansion of the Universe and the origin of observed black holes, also anticipating how to improve such tests with the next generation of detectors, especially with the space antenna LISA.
Host Institution: University of Arizona
Proposal Title: Seeing the Formation of Planets with High-Contrast Spectroscopy at MagAO-X
Sebastiaan Haffert grew up in the Netherlands in the city of Zoetermeer. He received his double bachelor’s in Physics and Astronomy in 2013 from Leiden University. In 2015, he completed the Astronomical Instrumentation Master at Leiden University. He continued at Leiden Observatory, where he will earn his PhD in Astronomy in the summer of 2019.
As a Sagan Fellow at the University of Arizona, he will develop and implement a novel high-resolution integral-field spectrograph on the Magellan Adaptive Optics eXtreme (MagAO-X) system. MagAO-X will have unprecedented high-contrast imaging performance in the visible part of the spectrum. This will allow Sebastiaan to study proto-planets, as the visible wavelength range provides the necessary spatial resolution and contains the strongest tracers for planet formation, such as Hα emission. With high-resolution spectroscopy at MagAO-X these tracers can be studied in detail to determine temperatures, abundances, and kinematics of planetary accretion which will allow him to validate planet-formation scenarios.
Host Institution: University of California, Santa Cruz
Proposal Title: Inverse Modeling of the Atmospheric Evolution of Lifeless Worlds to Understand Exoplanet Biosignatures
Joshua Krissansen-Totton grew up in Auckland, New Zealand. He received his bachelor’s degree in physics and mathematics at the University of Auckland. Joshua will complete his Dual-Title PhD in Earth and Space Sciences and Astrobiology at the University of Washington, advised by Professor David Catling.
Joshua’s research focuses on laying the groundwork for exoplanet life detection. For his PhD thesis, he developed theory to quantify chemical disequilibrium biosignatures and proposed biosignature gas combinations for planets with anoxic atmospheres such as the early Earth. Joshua’s PhD work also involved modeling the biogeochemical cycles that control the atmospheric evolution of Earth and other terrestrial planets. As a Sagan Fellow at the University of California, Santa Cruz, he will continue to pursue research at the intersection of exoplanet astronomy and Earth sciences. Specifically, Joshua will focus on preparing for NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope by exploring how upcoming observations of highly irradiated, lifeless worlds could more generally improve our understanding of terrestrial planet atmospheric evolution. He will apply this knowledge to interpreting future observations of potentially habitable exoplanets to help distinguish genuine biosignatures from non-biological processes.
Host Institution: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Proposal Title: Bridging the Gap between Galaxy and Star Formation with Star Clusters
Hui Li was born in Shijiazhuang, China. He received his bachelor and master degrees in astronomy from Nanjing University. He then moved to the US and obtained his PhD from the University of Michigan under the supervision of Oleg Y. Gnedin. After his graduation in 2017, he has been a postdoc associate at MIT working with Mark Vogelsberger.
Hui is a computational astrophysicist working on a broad range of topics including galaxy formation, star cluster formation, stellar dynamics, and globular clusters. In his PhD thesis, Hui designed a novel implementation that directly models the formation and evolution of star clusters in cosmological simulations. The suite of simulations provides rich predictions on the connection between young massive clusters formed at high-z and globular clusters observed at present. As a Hubble fellow, Hui will assemble multiscale numerical tools to study the influence of the large-scale galactic environment on the evolution of giant molecular clouds and the formation of star clusters. The results will also be used to design realistic cluster-based star formation and stellar feedback subgrid models for new generation cosmological simulations.
Host Institution: Carnegie Observatories
Proposal Title: Constraining Dark Matter with Stellar Streams and Dwarf Galaxies
Ting Li grew up in Shanghai, China, where she completed her bachelor's degree at Fudan University, with a major in Physics and a minor in Diplomacy. She received the Eramus Mundus Scholarship for a Joint European Master Program in Space Science and Technology, during which she studied in Germany, Sweden, France, and Japan for six months each. She earned her PhD in Physics from Texas A&M University in 2016, and was selected as the 2016 recipient of the Leon Lederman Fellow at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory.
Ting's research focuses on near-field cosmology. In particular, she studies the stellar streams and dwarf galaxies in the Milky Way to understand the formation of galaxies and the nature of dark matter. She not only specializes in analyzing large data sets from wide-area imaging surveys, but also performs traditional astronomical observations with large aperture optical/NIR telescopes. Apart from the scientific researches, Ting uses her spare time in building astronomical instruments and in contributing to infrastructure work for large-area sky surveys, such as the Dark Energy Survey (DES), and Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI), etc. As an Einstein Fellow at Carnegie Observatories, Ting aims to improve the constraints on the dark matter models via astronomical measurements.
Host Institution: California Institute of Technology
Proposal Title: A New Light on Neutron Stars
Renee Ludlam grew up in Dearborn, Michigan, and received her bachelor’s degrees summa cum laude in physics and astronomy at Wayne State University in 2015; one of two in the astronomy program's first graduating class. As a graduate student at the University of Michigan, she was awarded a NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship. She defended her PhD in astronomy and astrophysics in March 2019, advised by Jon M. Miller.
Renee’s work involves utilizing state-of-the-art spectroscopic techniques to reveal properties of accreting neutron stars (NSs). Determining the location of the inner disk places a limit on the radius of the neutron star, its magnetic field strength, or probes the presence of a boundary layer region. As an Einstein Fellow at CalTech, Renee plans to expand upon this work to push on the equation of state of ultradense cold matter through capturing multiple emission features with the X-ray telescopes NICER and NuSTAR, as well as obtaining complementary NS mass estimates with Keck. The upper limits on neutron-star radii from disk reflection, combined with the lower limits from gravitational wave events from NS-NS mergers, can provide tight constraints on allowed regions on the mass-radius plane.
Host Institution: Rutgers University
Proposal Title: The Galaxy-Halo Connection: Probing the Dark Universe with Galaxies
Yao-Yuan Mao grew up in Taipei City, Taiwan and received his B.S. degree in physics from National Taiwan University in 2009. Yao then went to graduate school at Stanford University, where he was awarded a Weiland Family Stanford Graduate Fellowship and a Paul Giddings KIPAC Fellowship. Yao received his PhD in physics from Stanford in 2016, under the advisement of Professor Risa Wechsler. Since fall 2016, Yao has been a Samuel P. Langley PITT PACC Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Pittsburgh.
Yao’s research focuses on the connection between visible galaxies and dark matter halos. He employs numerical simulations and empirical models to create "mock universes" and to compare them with observational datasets. He is particularly interested in the galaxy-halo connection at low-mass scales, which will shed light on galaxy formation physics (such as which halo properties impact galaxies’ properties the most), and the fundamental nature of dark matter (such as particle mass and self-interaction strength). Yao holds active roles in many scientific collaborations, including the SAGA Survey and the LSST Dark Energy Science Collaboration. As a NHFP Einstein Fellow, Yao will advance galaxy-halo connection models, and continue his active roles to provide vital components for a diverse set of ongoing and upcoming surveys and experiments.
Anna Faye McLeod
Host Institution: University of California, Berkeley
Proposal Title: Stellar Feedback in the Era of Integral Field Spectroscopy
Anna McLeod grew up in Ascona, Switzerland. She obtained her BSc from Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich, Germany, and her MSc from Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands. Anna then returned to Munich for her doctoral degree at the European Southern Observatory, where she was advised by Leonardo Testi. After earning her PhD, Anna moved to Christchurch, New Zealand, where she was a Marsden Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand after a brief stint in the software industry. In 2018 she moved to UC Berkeley to work with Dan Weisz, and she currently holds a joint appointment with Texas Tech University.
In her research, Anna uses integral field spectroscopy to study star formation and feedback from massive stars in the Milky Way and beyond. As a Hubble Fellow, Anna will exploit integral field spectroscopic data of nearby galaxies and photometry of their resolved stellar content to obtain a large systematic study aimed at observationally quantifying feedback from massive stars. With the detailed knowledge obtained for the massive stars and the simultaneously derived information about the gas within the host galaxies, Anna will directly quantify how stellar feedback affects its immediate and galactic environments, as well as connect her results to state-of-the-art star formation and galaxy evolution models.
Host Institution: Harvard University
Proposal Title: Spectral Signatures of Atmospheric Escape in Exoplanets
Antonija Oklopcic grew up in Zagreb, Croatia, where she completed her undergraduate studies. After obtaining a master’s degree in physics from the University of Zagreb in 2011, she started working toward a PhD in astrophysics at the California Institute of Technology as a Fulbright International Science & Technology fellow. She obtained her PhD in 2017 and since then she has been an Institute for Theory and Computation (ITC) postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University.
Antonija’s research interests cover a broad range of topics in theoretical astrophysics, but her recent work has been focused on developing new diagnostic tools for studying the atmospheres of exoplanets. She uses atmospheric models and hydrodynamical simulations, coupled with radiative transfer calculations, to predict and interpret spectroscopic observations that can be used to constrain the physical and chemical properties of exoplanets. She is particularly interested in studying highly irradiated exoplanet atmospheres undergoing strong atmospheric escape, which is much more efficient at removing planetary gas than any process that can be observed and studied in our Solar System today. As a Sagan fellow at Harvard University, Antonija will continue her work on modeling spectroscopic signatures of atmospheric escape in exoplanets, with the goal of improving our understanding of the physical processes that govern planetary formation and evolution.
Georgia Virginia Panopoulou
Host Institution: California Institute of Technology
Proposal Title: A Unique Approach to the Determination of the Galactic Magnetic Field Using Starlight and Synchrotron Polarization Observations
Georgia Panopoulou grew up on the island of Crete in Greece. She completed her undergraduate and graduate studies in physics at the University of Crete. She received her PhD in 2017, advised by professor Kostas Tassis, and then moved to the California Institute of Technology to continue her research with professor Tony Readhead. Georgia focuses on understanding the Interstellar Medium (ISM) through observations of interstellar clouds in the Milky Way. She is particularly interested in the magnetic field that permeates these clouds, the ways in which it affects Galactic processes and how it distorts our view of the Cosmic Microwave Background. As a Hubble Fellow, she will develop new methods for studying the Galactic magnetic field through a combination of state-of-the art polarimetric surveys and detailed numerical simulations of the ISM.
Host Institution: Harvard University
Proposal Title: Modeling the Turbulent Evolution of Galaxies over Cosmic Time
Born in Russia, Vadim Semenov graduated from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology with a master’s degree in applied mathematics and physics. Currently, Vadim is a graduate student at the University of Chicago, where he works with Andrey Kravtsov and Nick Gnedin. He expects to receive a PhD in astronomy and astrophysics in summer 2019.
Vadim’s research is centered on understanding how galaxies form and evolve. He explores this problem by running and analyzing simulations of galaxies. His previous and current work focuses on the origin of inefficient star formation in galaxies and the scaling relations between star-formation rates and gas content, modeling interstellar turbulence, star formation, and stellar feedback, modeling cosmic rays, as well as exploring various topics in computational methods related to galaxy formation. In the coming years, Vadim intends to gain a deeper understanding of the origin of turbulent gas motions in the interstellar medium of galaxies, their evolution over cosmic time, and their effect on star and galaxy formation.
Host Institution: University of Texas, Austin
Proposal Title: Taking a Census of Galactic Winds with JWST, ALMA, and SOFIA
Justin Spilker grew up in Nebraska, and is a proud product of the Lincoln Public Schools system. He graduated with a degree in physics from Iowa State University in 2011 (go Cyclones!) before heading to the desert southwest and the University of Arizona for graduate studies. He received his PhD in 2017 and has been a Harlan J. Smith Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Texas at Austin since then.
Justin's research focuses on understanding the formation and evolution of galaxies with a particular emphasis on observations at infrared through radio wavelengths. At these long wavelengths our telescopes are able to observe dust that has been heated by massive young stars, as well as a host of spectral lines of atoms and molecules that sample the cold and dense gas in galaxies. Justin is especially interested in galactic feedback—a catch-all term for the ways that galaxies are able to self-regulate their growth—through observations of massive galactic winds that sweep gas out of galaxies. Over the next several years, Justin plans to use long-wavelength facilities like NASA's SOFIA observatory and the ALMA interferometric array to detect, determine the structure, and dissect the contents of galactic winds in galaxies ranging in distance from very nearby to the edge of the universe.
Host Institution: University of California, San Diego
Proposal Title: Planetary Collisions around Low-Mass Stars: Constraining the Timescale for Collisions and Testing the Origin of the Kepler Dichotomy
Chris Theissen grew up in the sunny climes of San Diego, California.
He completed his bachelor’s degrees in physics and mathematics at UC San Diego in 2010, and earned his PhD in astronomy from Boston University in 2018. At Boston University, Chris was a Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellow and a National Science Foundation Graduate K-12 Fellow. Chris spent his final PhD years as a visiting graduate student at UC San Diego working with Professor Adam Burgasser. He completed his thesis under the supervision of Professor Andrew West.
Chris’s dissertation research centered on the habitability of terrestrial planets around low-mass stars (M dwarfs). During the epoch of planet formation, collisions between planetary bodies are common; however, giant collisions after the first billion years of a system’s life are extremely uncommon for Sun-like stars. Chris’s research indicates that late-time giant collisions between planets could be fairly common around M dwarfs, using excess infrared light as a proxy for dust in these systems. As a Sagan Fellow at UC San Diego, Chris will further investigate the occurrence of planetary collisions around low-mass stars using a mix of observational data from space-based observatories and numeric simulations.
Host Institution: University of Arizona
Proposal Title: Probing Cosmic Reionization and the Growth of the Earliest Supermassive Black Holes
Feige Wang grew up in a small town in Shandong, China. He received his bachelor’s in physics from Shandong University. Feige obtained his PhD in astrophysics from Peking University in July 2017 and was advised by Prof. Xiaohui Fan and Prof. Xue-Bing Wu. In November 2017, Feige started a postdoctoral researcher position in the ENIGMA group led by Prof. Joseph F. Hennawi at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Feige’s research focuses on the formation of the earliest quasars, the brightest objects in the Universe that are thought to be powered by supermassive black holes. In particular, he is constructing the largest quasar sample at the epoch of reionization and measuring the cosmic evolution of these luminous quasars by mining deep all-sky optical and infrared sky surveys. As a Hubble Fellow, Feige will use spectroscopic observations, over nearly the full range of the electromagnetic spectrum, of these reionization-era quasars obtained from both ground-based and space telescopes to investigate the cosmic reionization, the accretion history of the first generation supermassive black holes, and the co-evolution between supermassive black holes and their host galaxies.
Host Institution: Carnegie Observatories
Proposal Title: Ultra-High Resolution Simulations of the Milky Way and its Satellites
Coral Wheeler was born in Minnesota, where she spent her childhood enjoying lake sports and playing ice hockey on an all-boys team. She then moved to Ohio, where she attended high school and later got her bachelor’s degree in theoretical mathematics at the University of Akron. While at Akron, Coral double-majored in math and physics, graduating summa cum laude, and completing research projects in astronomy, theoretical mathematics, and experiments physics. Coral earned her PhD in physics at the University of California, Irvine in 2016, working with James Bullock and specializing in astrophysics and galaxy-formation theory. Since then, she has been continuing her research as a Lee A. DuBridge Postdoctoral Fellow in the Burke Institute at Caltech.
Coral seeks to understand the nature of the Universe by studying its tiniest galaxies and investigating challenges to Lambda-Cold Dark Matter theory at the smallest galactic scales. Through running supercomputer simulations of low-mass “dwarf” galaxies and making testable predictions for existing and next-generation telescopes, she hopes to improve our current models of galaxy formation, expand our knowledge of the early Universe, and to inform our understanding of the nature of dark matter. Based on her thesis and postdoctoral work—which involves running the most detailed cosmological hydrodynamic simulations ever run to the present day—Coral has made testable predictions for the existence and properties of a large population of low surface-brightness "ultra-faint" galaxies, many existing as satellites of more massive dwarfs. As a Hubble Fellow at Carnegie Observatories, Coral will build upon this previous work by running ultra-high resolution simulations of the Milky Way merging with its satellites to better understand how collisions affect the interacting dwarf galaxies, their own tiny satellites, and the structure and evolution of our own Milky Way.
Host Institution: Boston University
Proposal Title: Supermassive Black Hole and Exotic Physics in the Galactic Nuclei of Local Galaxies
Shuo Zhang grew up in Changchun, China. She obtained her bachelor’s degree in Engineering Physics from Tsinghua University in Beijing. Supported by the NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship (NESSF) and the Columbia Faculty fellowship, Shuo completed her PhD in Physics at Columbia University, where she was a member of the NuSTAR galactic plane survey team and advised by Chuck Hailey. Shuo’s thesis focuses on investigating the physics behind outbursts from the Galactic center supermassive black hole Sgr A*. Since her graduation in 2016, Shuo has been a postdoctoral scholar and Heising-Simons Fellow at MIT Kavli Institute, where she works with Kerstin Perez and Fred Baganoff to understand Sgr A* flares and Galactic center diffuse X-ray emission components.
As an Einstein Fellow at Boston University, Shuo will explore her new direction of research, probing Galactic cosmic-ray particles at MeV through PeV energy scales using innovative methods, aiming to answer the question whether Galactic cosmic rays are from ordinary astrophysical sources or of more exotic origin. On top of that, Shuo will carry on her research in the outbursts of supermassive black holes in both our Milky Way galaxy and nearby galaxies.
➤ Last updated: April 4, 2019