I am an assistant professor in the Department of Physics & Astronomy at the University of California, Davis. I earned my PhD in astrophysics at the University of California, Berkeley, and I pursued postdoctoral research at Yale University, Caltech, and Carnegie Observatories. Read more about my background.
I am fortunate to pursue research with the fantastic group below.
Jenna Samuel works on low-mass ‘dwarf’ galaxies, in particular, the satellites of the Milky Way and Andromeda (M31), in particular, the origin of their spatial and velocity distributions, including the meaning and origin of the observed thin planes of satellites around the Milky Way and M31. She also works on understanding the roles of (internal) stellar feedback and (external) host halo environment on the gas content and star formation in dwarf galaxies.
Isaiah Santistevan works on modeling the formation histories of Milky Way-mass galaxies, including the origin and dynamics of metal-poor stars. Isaiah also is using cosmological simulations to develop new models to infer the full (cosmological) orbital histories of dwarf galaxies in the Local Group.
Matt Bellardini works on understanding the formation of the disks of Milky Way-mass galaxies, including ‘chemical tagging’: how to use elemental abundances of stars to reconstruct the 3D formation history of the Milky Way across cosmic time via ‘galactic archaeology’.
Pratik Gandhi works on modeling the rates of supernova Type Ia in our simulations. He also is interested in the ‘near-far connection’: understanding the role of nearby dwarf galaxies during the epoch of reionization, and how we can use nearby dwarf galaxies to infer the contribution of low-mass galaxies to the UV luminosity function across cosmic time.
Fiona McCluskey works on modeling the formation of the disks of Milky Way-mass galaxies, including how we can use measured stellar ages to reconstruct the 3D formation history of the Milky Way across cosmic time via ‘galactic archaeology’.
Preet Patel first joined us as an undergraduate student for 2 summers via a Blue Waters Student Internship, before joining our group for his PhD. He works on predictions for elemental abundance patterns in the stars of low-mass (dwarf) galaxies and how we can use them to understand these galaxies’ formation histories.
Theodore is our group’s Chief Morale Officer. He joined our group after a short stay at LA county’s Baldwin Park Animal Care Center. Deciding that astrophysics might be more interesting than squirrel chasing, he earned his Pretty hairy Dog (Ph.D.) degree at Caltech (advised by JoAnn Boyd). He then pursued a postdog fellowship at Carnegie Observatories. As you can see, he effectively runs our group.
Sarah Loebman joined us as a NASA Hubble Fellow and UC Davis Chancellor’s Fellow. Sarah is a stellar dynamicist who works on all aspects of the Milky Way, from the formation and evolution of stars and star clusters in its disk, to its diffuse stellar halo. Sarah is now an assistant professor in the Department of Physics at the University of California, Merced.
Samantha Benincasa joined us as a postdoctoral research scholar, working on simulations of galaxy formation to understand the inter-stellar medium (gas) in the Milky Way and nearby galaxies. Sam is now a postdoc in the Department of Astronomy at the Ohio State University, where she holds both a NSERC Fellowship and a CCAPP Fellowship.
Sierra Chapman joined us as an undergraduate student majoring in physics. She worked on predictions for the population of dark-matter subhalos in the halo of the Milky Way, including encounter rates of subhalos with the Milky Way’s disk and stellar streams. Sierra now works in private industry.