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Swara Ravindranath

CSA Astronomer
Swara Ravindranath headshot

Dr. Swara Ravindranath is a CSA astronomer, and instrument scientist for the Near Infrared Imager and Slitless Spectrograph (NIRISS) on the JWST. Since joining STScI in 2013, Dr. Ravindranath has served as the lead of the JWST Exposure Time Calculator Working Group, and as a member of the JWST Efficiency Working Group. Her research focuses on identifying emission-line spectral diagnostics, which can be used to reveal the physical properties of galaxies in the reionization epoch. She uses local analogs of the low-metallicity, extreme emission-line galaxies at high redshifts, to test the nebular emission-line ratios predicted by photoionization models.

Dr. Ravindranath has been a Co-Investigator on various deep surveys carried out with the Hubble Space Telescope (GOODS, CANDELS, UV UDF), and is an expert on the evolution of galaxy morphologies and sizes over cosmic time. During her postdoctoral research, Dr. Ravindranath also worked on the topic of coevolution of supermassive black holes and their host galaxies, showing that the structural properties of galaxy cores in massive elliptical galaxies are consistent with being shaped by the effects of binary black hole mergers.

Dr. Ravindranath obtained her Ph.D in the year 2000, from the Indian Institute of Astrophysics in Bangalore, India. She was a postdoctoral fellow at the Carnegie Observatories in Pasadena, CA (2000 – 2002), and then a postdoctoral fellow at STScI with the Great Observatories Origins Deep Survey (GOODS) HST treasury program (2002 – 2006). Dr. Ravindranath worked as an assistant professor (2006 – 2012) and associate professor (2012 – 2013) at the Inter-University Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics in Pune, India. In 2013, Dr. Ravindranath joined STScI as an instrument scientist for the JWST NIRISS instrument.

Dr. Ravindranath is a member of the JWST NIRISS GTO program (CANUCS), and a Co-Investigator on the JWST ERS program (CEERS). She is also a member of the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope Science Investigation Team, and a member of the International Science Definition Team for the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT).


PhD in Astronomy, Indian Institute of Astrophysics, Bangalore (India)
MSc in Physics, University of Calicut, Calicut (India)
BSc in Physics, University of Calicut, Calicut (India)


Science Interests:

  • Emission-lines and spectral diagnostics
  • HII regions
  • Galaxy morphology and sizes
  • Coevolution of SMBH and host galaxies
  • Star-forming galaxies and massive star clusters


Research Topics: Supermassive Black Holes; High-Redshift Galaxies; Galaxy Formation and Evolution; Star Clusters


Professional Websites:

Professional Website


ORCID ID: 0000-0002-5269-6527

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