I am Research Scientist at the MIT MKI working to solve problems in observational astrophysics and cosmology. Previously I was a Faculty Fellow in the Department of Physics & Astronomy at Colby College, and prior to that I was a postdoc working with Professor Christopher Stubbs at Harvard University and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Before that I was a grad student in the Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics and the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics at the University of Chicago where I was advised by Professor Michael Gladders. Going back even farther, I was an undergraduate at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where I worked on the Goodman Spectrograph with Professor Chris Clemens, and then worked on GRB follow-up and on building the PROMPT array with Professor Dan Reichart.
I am an observer by trade and enjoy working with instrumentation and data at all wavelengths, though I am especially proficient with data in the optical and infrared. My scientific expertise is in observational cosmology and extragalactic astrophysics, with both galaxy clusters and high-redshifts galaxies. The broad goal of my research is to describe the way in which structure on the largest observable scales developed into its current form, starting from the Big Bang. Specifically, I use large samples of galaxy clusters that are selected both from their optical light, and with the Sunyaev Zel'dovich (SZ) Effect, to test predictions for structure formation. Within the galaxy cluster zoo, I spend a lot of my time working with strong lensing clusters where the strong lensing phenomenon yields information about the structure and properties of the cluster lenses while also providing highly magnified images of distant background galaxies. I use a wide range of facilities in my research, including incredible NASA observaties like the Hubble Space Telescope and the Chandra X-ray Observatory. I also make frequent use of large ground-based observatories, including Magellan and Gemini.
I have a strong interest in science education and outreach. I am part of a small group at
MIT that started up the Boston/Cambridge version of
Astronomy On Tap. We've put
together a bunch of great events in the past couple years, so if you're local to the
Boston area then keep an eye on our calendar and join us! I've also given several public
astronomy lectures, including the Harvard-Smithsonian monthly
talk, and a public lecture at the Keene, NH public library hosted by the
Keene Amateur Astronomy Club.
In Chicago I spent more than 400 hours on lab/class development and
teaching with the Space Explorers
program, which provides intensive, year-round, lab-based science education to inner-city
students from the south side of Chicago. I also provided expert volunteer support at the
Adler Planetarium, serving as a guide to the
science displays in Adler's Space Visualization Lab. I am always happy to talk about my
research (or other topics in astronomy and
astrophysics) so please feel free to contact me if you're looking to find a guest speaker
or something along those lines (details on the left hand margin of this page).