About me

Research

Teaching

Outreach

Astro PhD @ A&M

Howdy!

I am an associate professor (with tenure) in the Department of Physics & Astronomy, College of Science, Texas A&M University, and a member of the George P. and Cynthia W. Mitchell Institute for Fundamental Physics and Astronomy.

Before joining the Department, I was a Hubble Fellow and Goldberg Fellow at the National Optical Astronomy Observatory. I received my PhD in Astronomy from Harvard University and my BS in Physics from MIT.

If you would like to get in touch with me, my contact information can be found here.

Research

My research interests include the extragalactic distance scale, massive time-series photometry and "near-field" cosmology:

• My main area of research involves optical and near-infrared photometry of Cepheid variables in galaxies near and far with the Hubble Space Telescope and various ground-based telescopes. The aim of these projects is to better measure the expansion rate of the Universe (the Hubble constant) with better accuracy and precision. This ultimately allows a better constraint on the equation of state of dark energy. I am also interested in characterizing changes in the observed optical and near-infrared properties of Cepheids as a function of metal abundance. More information on these projects can be found here.

• I have applied my expertise in massive time-series photometry to the analysis of data obtained with small telescopes at Dome A on the Antarctic Plateau. This may well be the best site for astronomy on the surface of the Earth! Some interesting light curves and more information about this project can be found here.

• I am also involved in a long-term program to obtain redshifts for an all-sky, flux limited sample of about 43,000 galaxies selected from the 2 Micron All-Sky Survey (2MASS). The aim of this project is to produce the most detailed map of large-scale structure in our region of the Universe, free from the biases and incompleteness present in previous optical-based studies. This project is coupled with a peculiar-velocity survey that uses the Tully-Fisher relation (2MTF) to characterize large-scale flows in the local Supercluster and study the distribution of dark matter. More information on this project can be found here.

I am fortunate to work with several colleagues who are helping me with these projects. A list of current and past members of my group can be found here.

Teaching

Most semesters I teach a section of Astronomy 101, which is an undergraduate course entitled "Basic Astronomy." If you are currently enrolled in this class you may access the online materials here.

Once every two years I teach Astronomy 603, which is a graduate-level course entitled "Stellar Astrophysics." If you are currently enrolled in this class you may access the online materials here.

Outreach

One of my priorities as professor is to reach out to the community to keep them up to date on our latest discoveries and thank them for their taxpayer support. I participate in several public outreach events every year, including:

• The Department's annual Physics Festival and Saturday Morning Physics program.

• Open House events at our Campus Observatory.

• Public talks at schools, astronomy clubs, and conferences. If you would like me to give a public talk at your institution, please do not hesistate to contact me.

PhD in Astronomy at Texas A&M

We plan to offer a PhD in Astronomy at Texas A&M, pending approval by the Texas A&M System and the State Coordinating Board of Higher Education. Thus, we are looking for highly qualified undergraduate students who would like to join our group to pursue a PhD in Astronomy. If you are interested in more information, please do not hesitate to contact me, or visit the admissions page here.