My research explores new frontiers in stellar astrophysics by studying the physics of how massive stars evolve and die. By combining multi-wavelength observations and theoretical modeling of evolving massive stars, stellar populations, star-forming galaxies, and transient phenomena, we can make new strides towards understanding these critical objects and effectively utilizing them as cosmological tools to take full advantage of the frontiers that will be opened up by future facilities.
I lead the Massive Stars research group at UW. Some of our current research projects include observational studies of evolved massive stars (red supergiants, luminous blue variables, yellow supergiants, and Wolf-Rayet stars); searching for (more) Thorne-Zytkow objects and studying their formation and evolution; circumstellar environments and mass loss; the role of stellar populations in their host galaxies; resolved ISM studies of GRB and SN host galaxies; binary massive star systems and populations; and the role of these stars as the progenitors of gravitational waves. We’re also working on a data sonification project called TransientZoo that allows participants, including people who are visually impaired, to classify lightcurves via sound.
(we also occasionally
mess with study spiders)
Interested in joining the UW Massive Stars research group? If you’re a prospective grad student, the best way to express your interest is to apply to the UW Astronomy grad program! You’re encouraged to share what sort of research interests you as part of your application, but we admit people into our program as a whole (not into specific groups, so there’s no need to email potential advisers ahead of time!), and applying is the best way for us to learn about who you are and why you’re interested in joining the department. You can learn more about the application process here (note that we dropped the Physics GRE from our application many years ago – you can read more about my research on the PGRE here – and dropped the General GRE beginning in 2020).
Previous group members include:
*Postdoctoral researchers: Jamie Lomax (2016-2018; now tenured at the US Naval Academy)
*Graduate students: Trevor Dorn-Wallenstein (2015-2021; went on to be a Carnegie Fellow) Kathryn Neugent (2017-2021; went on to be a Dunlap Fellow, Hubble Fellow, and CfA Fellow), Kolby Weisenburger (2015-2017; went on to position as a data analyst at Ellevation Education), Erika Zetterlund (2014- 2015; went on to complete PhD from CU Boulder)
*Undergraduate: Keyan Gootkin (2018-2021; went on to grad school at the University of Hawaii), Tzvetelina Dimitrova (2020-2021; went on to grad school at Arizona State University), Annie Shoemaker (2020; went on to grad school at Montana State University), Megan Kokoris (2019-2020; went on to grad school at Oregon State University); Aislynn Wallach (2018-2019; went on to grad school at Boston University); Locke Patton (2016-2018; went on to grad school at Harvard University); Mallory Thorp (2016-2017; went on to grad school at University of Victoria); Jeffrey Jennings (2015-2016; went on to grad school at Cambridge); Nathen Nguyen (2016; went on to grad school at Universidad de Chile); Michelle Villenueve (2014-2015; went on to grad school at CU Boulder)