Today was a big day; we celebrated our first PhD defense in the UW Massive Stars research group! Today Kathryn Neugent successfully defended her PhD thesis, “One Star, Two Star. Red Star, Blue Star: The Binary Fraction of Red Supergiants”. The thesis as a whole combines Kathryn’s work over the past several years on the photometric signature of binary red supergiants, spectroscopically confirming this method, characterizing the luminosity function and mass loss behavior of red supergiants in M31, calculating the binary fraction of red supergiants in the LMC, and then extending this work to M31 and M33 and discovering a correlation between metallicity and the RSG binary fraction. In addition to her thesis research, Kathryn also mentored one of the undergrad members of our group, Tzvetelina Dimitrova, on research identifying the red supergiant population of IC 10.
Dr. Neugent will soon be heading to a new position as a Dunlap Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Toronto! It’s been awesome having Kathryn as a member of our research group here at UW, and we’re looking forward to continuing working with her in the coming years as a fantastic collaborator.