I am an associate 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.
Pratik Gandhi joined us in 2019 and was awarded a Frontera Computational Science Fellowship from the Texas Advanced Computing Center. He first explored the effects of metallicity-dependent rates of white-dwarf (Type Ia) supernovae in simulations of galaxy formation. He now works on the ‘near-far connection’: how we can use the stellar fossil record of nearby low-mass galaxies to understand the epoch of reionization.
Fiona McCluskey joined us in 2019 and models the cosmological formation of the disks of Milky Way-mass galaxies, including the roles of disk settling and dynamical heating over cosmic time.
Megan Barry joined us in 2021. She first made predictions for the population of dark-matter subhalos around the Milky Way. She now works on elemental abundances of stars in simulations of Milky Way-like galaxies, including the origin of the bimodality in the distribution of alpha-element abundances.
Heather Pearson first joined us in 2022 as an undergraduate student via REU, and she then joined us as a PhD student in 2023. Heather works on predictions for elemental abundance patterns of stars in simulated galaxies and how we can use them to understand stellar nucleosynthesis and galaxy formation.
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.
Samantha Benincasa joined us in 2018-2020 as a postdoctoral research scholar, modeling the interstellar medium (gas) in the Milky Way and nearby galaxies. Sam went on as a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Astronomy at the Ohio State University, where she held a President’s Postdoctoral Scholarship, a NSERC Fellowship, and a CCAPP Fellowship.
graduate student alumni
Preet Patel first joined us in 2018 as an undergraduate student (via the BlueWaters Student Internship), and he then joined us as a graduate student 2020-2023. Preet worked on predictions for elemental abundance patterns of stars in simulated galaxies and how we can use them to understand stellar nucleosynthesis and galaxy formation. Preet went on into private industry.
Matt Bellardini joined us 2018-2023, working on the formation of the disks of Milky Way-mass galaxies, including spatial variations of metals and how they vary across cosmic time with implications for chemical tagging, and radial redistribution of the orbits of stars over cosmic time. Matt went on into private industry.
Isaiah Santistevan joined us 2018-2023, supported in part by a Future Investigators in NASA Earth and Space Science and Technology (FINESST) award, working on the formation histories of Milky Way-mass galaxies, including the origin and dynamics of metal-poor stars. Isaiah also used our cosmological simulations to infer the full orbital histories of satellite galaxies in the Local Group. Isaiah went on as a postdoc at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
Jenna Samuel joined us 2018-2021 working on the satellite galaxies of the Milky Way and Andromeda, including their spatial and velocity distributions, the origin of the observed thin planes of satellites, and gas stripping and star-formation quenching via the halo environment. Jenna went on as an NSF Astronomy & Astrophysics Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Department of Astronomy at the University of Texas, Austin.
Undergraduate student alumni
Russell Graf joined us 2022-2023 for a Senior Thesis on the elemental abundance patterns of stars, their spatial variations, and their dependence on age in simulations of Milky Way-mass galaxies.
Rachel Perelgut joined us 2022-2023 for a Senior Thesis on the evolution of the orientation of galactic disks across cosmic time.
Heather Pearson joined us summer 2022 via our REU program from Oberlin College, working on the ‘near-far connection’: how we can use the stellar fossil record of nearby low-mass galaxies to understand the epoch of reionization. Heather later joined us as a PhD student at UC Davis.
Bhavya Pardasani joined us (virtually) summer 2021 via our REU program from the University of Illinois, working on understanding the (hot) halo gas around the Milky Way and its role in stripping gas from satellite galaxies and quenching their star formation. Bhavya went on to pursue a PhD in Astronomy at Yale University.
Preet Patel joined us summer 2018 via the Blue Waters Student Internship, working on predictions for elemental abundance patterns in stars of low-mass galaxies. Preet later joined us as a graduate student at UC Davis.
Sierra Chapman joined us 2018-2019 for a Senior Honors Thesis 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 went on into private industry.