MIT Kavli Institute Directory

Michael A. McDonald

Assistant Professor of Physics Faculty

July 1, 2015 -- Michael McDonald joins the Department of Physics and the Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research as an assistant professor. His research focuses on the most massive gravitationally-bound objects in the universe: clusters of galaxies. In particular, he is attempting to understand the life cycle of gas, stars, and galaxies in these rich environments, and how highly energetic processes such as supernovae and jets from supermassive black holes can influence the evolution of these systems. This research makes extensive use of both ground- and space-based telescopes at nearly all wavelengths, including (but not limited to) the Magellan and ALMA observatories in Chile, the South Pole Telescope in Antarctica, and the space-based Chandra and Hubble telescopes. Aside from research, McDonald has been involved in the development of the Maryland-Magellan Tunable Filter on the Baade telescope at Magellan and is a member of the Science Working Group for the European Athena X-ray telescope, scheduled to launch in the late 2020s.

McDonald is from Kingston, Ontario in Canada. He graduated from Queen's University in Canada in 2005 with a Bachelors degree in Physics and in 2007 with a Masters of Science under the supervision of Prof. Stephane Courteau. He received a PhD from the University of Maryland in 2011, after working with Prof. Sylvain Veilleux on an emission-line study of giant elliptical galaxies. In 2012, Michael was named a Hubble postdoctoral Fellow at the Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Research interests: 

Michael McDonald is an astronomer in the Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His research focuses on the most massive gravitationally-bound objects in the Universe: clusters of galaxies. In particular, he is attempting to understand the life cycle of gas, stars, and galaxies in these rich environments, and how highly energetic processes such as supernovae and jets from supermassive black holes can influence the evolution of these systems. This research makes extensive use of both ground- and space-based telescopes at nearly all wavelengths, including (but not limited to) the Magellan and ALMA observatories in Chile, the South Pole Telescope in Antarctica, and the space-borne Chandra and Hubble telescopes. Aside from research, Michael has been involved in the development of the Maryland-Magellan Tunable Filter on the Baade telescope at Magellan and is a member of the Science Working Group for the European Athena X-ray telescope, scheduled to launch in the late 2020s.

 

Massive "Phoenix Cluster" Supersizes Star Creation (NPR News, 8/17/2012)

Honors and awards: 

Hubble Fellowship, MIT Kavli Institute, 2012
Einstein Fellowship (declined), 2012
University of Maryland CMNS Outstanding Graduate Student Award, 2011 [College-wide (Computing, Math and Natural Sciences) prize awarded to a single PhD candidate, based on all-around scholarly and research performance]
National Research Council of Canada Plaskett Fellowship (declined), 2011
Australian Research Council Super Science Fellowship (declined), 2011
John C. Wang Academic Excellence Award (UMD), 2009