Leo Goldberg Fellows

Colette Salyk

Colette Salyk began doing astronomy as an MIT undergraduate, where she worked with Jim Elliot studying planetary atmospheres, and participated in REU programs with advisors Amanda Bosh, Knut Olsen, and David Tholen. Upon entering the Caltech Planetary Sciences graduate program in 2003, Colette became interested in the formation of planetary systems, and began studying early Solar System analogs - protoplanetary disks - in nearby star-forming clouds. Under the guidance of advisor Geoffrey A. Blake, she used both space- and ground-based spectrographs to study the structure and chemistry of protoplanetary disks. In particular, she studied transitional disks - disks with inner clearings - and helped show that some may be formed via evaporation or stellar companions, but that others are most consistent with harboring giant planets. She also studied water vapor - a volatile disk molecule that is a tracer of processes such as photo-dissociation and condensation, and which plays an important role in the formation of planetary cores. After receiving her PhD in 2009, Colette moved to the McDonald Observatory at UT Austin as a Harlan J. Smith postdoctoral fellow.

Colette continues to use spectroscopic observations to tackle fundamental unsolved questions about protoplanetary disks and the formation of planets. In particular, she will take full advantage of the advent of many powerful new observatories, including the Herschel Space Telescope, SOFIA, ALMA, JWST and the GSMTs. These facilities will allow us unprecedented opportunities to answer questions such as, What are the physical processes by which disks evolve and dissipate, and what effect do these have on growing planets? What are the processes that turn small dust grains into planetesimals? And, what are the necessary conditions that lead to the formation of planetary systems, and Earth-like planets in particular?

In 2015, Colette accepted a position as Assistant Professor of Astronomy at Vassar College.

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Simon Schuler

Simon Schuler’s research focuses on deriving the chemical abundances of various Galactic stellar populations using high-resolution spectroscopy in order to investigate Big Bang nucleosynthesis, the synthesis and evolution of the elements, stellar physics, and the chemical signatures of planetary host stars.

Simon received a B.S. in Physics from the University of Miami in 2001. He then entered the graduate program in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas where he began working with his advisor, Professor Jeremy King. He earned a M.S. degree in 2002 after completing his thesis, “Spectroscopic Abundances of Solar-Type Dwarfs in Open Cluster M34.” He continued his graduate work with his advisor at Clemson University, where he received his Ph.D. in Physics and Astronomy in 2006. His dissertation, “Chemical Abundances of Solar-Type Dwarfs in Open Clusters,” extended his high-resolution spectroscopic studies to stars in the Pleiades and Hyades open clusters.

In 2006 Simon was awarded the NOAO Leo Goldberg Fellowship. He took up the fellowship at NOAO South in La Serena, Chile, where he made extensive use of the bHROS optical and Phoenix near-IR high-resolution spectrographs on the 8-m Gemini-South telescope. In 2008, Simon moved to NOAO North in Tucson, Arizona.

Throughout Simon’s tenure as a Goldberg Fellow, he has been carrying out a long-term observing program using the WIYN 3.5-m telescope and Hydra multi-fiber spectrograph at Kitt Peak National Observatory (KPNO) to study Li and chromospheric activity in Pleiades dwarfs, stars that are approximately 100 million years old. With this project, which Simon will complete during his fifth year of the Fellowship, he and his collaborators aim to resolve the long-standing problem of the large Li dispersions observed among late-G and K dwarfs in young open clusters.

During his fellowship, Simon has collaborated with NOAO scientific staff on other projects, including the chemical abundances of planetary host stars. He has also studied the abundances of carbon, oxygen, and fluorine in carbon-enhanced metal-poor (CEMP) stars. These old stars are thought to be original members of the earliest stellar generations, and they show remarkable and yet unexplained enhancements in carbon relative to their iron content. As part of this research, Simon and his collaborators discovered a CEMP star with a highly enhanced abundance of fluorine; relative to iron, the star has almost three orders of magnitude more fluorine than the Sun.

In addition to his research, Simon has taken advantage of opportunities to contribute to the mission of NOAO in various ways, gaining valuable experience in many aspects of the national observatory. He has been an instrument support scientist for the Phoenix near-IR high-resolution spectrograph on Gemini-S, participated in development meetings of future echelle spectrographs, and been a member of the NOAO Telescope Allocation Committee for the past two years. He has also participated in the NSF-funded Research Experience for Undergraduates program at CTIO and NOAO, mentoring students in the summers of both hemispheres!

In the fall of 2012 Simon became a faculty member in the Chemistry and Physics Department of the University of Tampa.

Reflecting on his experience as a Goldberg Fellow, Simon noted, “The Leo Goldberg Fellowship has provided me with incredible opportunities to expand my research and collaborations, carry-out my long-term observing program on the Pleiades, and help contribute to our National Observatory, where the people have been very supportive. The Goldberg Fellowship definitely has allowed me to set the foundation I need to continue my career in professional astronomy.”

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Jennifer Lotz

Jennifer Lotz graduated cum laude with honors in Physics and Astronomy in 1996 from Bryn Mawr College. She continued her studies at the Johns Hopkins University, where she obtained her M. A. in 1999, and her Ph.D. in Astrophysics in 2003. Her doctoral thesis, titled “The History of the Evolution of Dwarf Galaxies,” was aimed at tracing the evolution of dwarf galaxies in field and cluster environments over the past 10 billion years. Her thesis supervisor was Henry Ferguson (STScI).

Dr. Lotz has worked as a post-doctoral fellow at the University of California, Santa Cruz, since her graduation. Her major role at Santa Cruz has been working with the theory group on the morphologies of merging galaxies. Jennifer’s goal was to tie the spatial distribution of stars to the formation history of the galaxy. Galaxy morphology is a very accessible tracer of how the light is organized in galaxies, and an ideal way to study their contents to infer their formation history.

Jennifer plans to pursue the above scientific questions as a Goldberg Fellow at NOAO starting in October 2005. In addition, she plans to gain insight on galaxy evolution by studying the role of galaxy mergers. Her research outline includes the identification of nearby and high redshift mergers, the study of their properties, and the statistical study of the observed distribution of galaxy properties to those predicted by theoretical models.

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Gregory Rudnick

Gregory Rudnick earned a B.S. in Physics from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign in 1996. He entered graduate school immediately thereafter at Steward Observatory and remained there for 3.5 years. The last 1.5 years of his dissertation work were carried out in Heidelberg, Germany, at the Max-Planck-Institute for Astronomy under the supervision of Hans-Walter Rix. He received his PhD from the University of Arizona in November 2001, and moved to Garching, Germany, for a postdoc at the Max-Planck-Institute of Astrophysics.

Gregory’s research focuses primarily on tracing galaxy evolution in the rest-frame optical at z<3. In his dissertation, titled “The Rest-Frame Optical Properties of High Redshift Galaxies,” Gregory utilized deep optical and near-infrared imaging of the Hubble Deep Field-South to measure the rest-frame optical luminosities, colors, morphologies, and stellar masses of luminous galaxies at z<3. After his thesis he concentrated on quantifying global trends in the galaxy population, specifically the evolution in the stellar mass density of the Universe and the stellar mass budget from z=0 to 3. While at NOAO Gregory pursued his high redshift interests, collaborating both with NOAO staff and with postdoctoral fellows at Steward Observatory. At the same time Gregory pursued his study of how environment affects the evolution of galaxies at intermediate redshift. In the beginning of his fellowship, much of this work was done in the context of an ESO large program to study 19 clusters in detail at z=0.4-0.8. Thanks to the duration and flexibility of the Goldberg Fellowship and the wealth of facilities and expertise available in the Tucson area (not just via NOAO), Gregory was able to take these studies in a new direction and conduct on an ambitious observational program to characterize the full range of galaxy environments at z=0.4-0.8. This project provided a valuable start for Gregory’s research program as a new faculty member at the University of Kansas.

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Armin Rest

Armin Rest studied physics at the University of Karlsruhe, Germany, where in 1994 he obtained his Vordiplom (equivalent to B.S.). In 1995, he participated as a fellow in the Baden-Wuerttemberg - Oregon exchange program and went to Portland State University. There he finished his M.S in physics in the following year working on properties of CCD cameras. He entered the Astronomy Department at the University of Washington in 1997. During his graduate studies at UW, he was involved in various projects. He built a DIMM seeing monitor for the Apache Point Observatory, and investigated the core properties of early-type galaxies. He also lead the development of a data reduction pipeline specifically targeted at detecting transient objects using difference image analysis, which is today used by various projects. His main scientific interests are in cosmology, in particular dark matter and dark energy. He is one of the leading members of the SuperMacho project, a next generation microlensing survey towards the LMC. This project aims to identify the location of the lensing population that is responsible for the anomalously high microlensing rate towards the LMC identified by the MACHO project. Resolving the spatial location of the lensing population (thick disk, Galactic Halo, tidal tail, or LMC?) will lead to a substantial improvement in the understanding of Galactic structure, and has a direct bearing on the understanding of dark matter. In his dissertation (2002), he investigated the discrimination power of the SuperMacho project for testing the different LMC microlensing scenarios under the guidance of his supervisor Christopher Stubbs. He is also an active member of the ESSENCE project, which is a NOAO Survey program that is discovering and studying supernovae in the 0.2<z<0.8 range. With this data set, it will be possible to constrain the dark energy equation of state. While at NOAO South in Chile, Armin continues to work on the SuperMacho and ESSENCE projects. He plans to be involved in upcoming wide field transient surveys leading toward the LSST.

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Lucas Macri

Lucas Macri received his B.S. in Physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in June 1995 and his Ph.D. in Astronomy from Harvard University in November 2001. He joined NOAO as a Hubble Fellow in September 2002, at which time he was offered a follow-on Goldberg fellowship to start in the fall of 2005. The primary science goal of his fellowship is the characterization of unresolved systematic effects in the Cepheid Distance Scale. As part of his PhD Thesis, he was involved in a large-scale synoptic survey of M33, which resulted in the discovery of over 600 Cepheids in that galaxy. Lucas is currently carrying out follow-up observations of these variables using the WIYN and Gemini North telescopes. Once completed, these observations will yield accurate BVIJHK magnitudes that will be used to characterize the dependence of Cepheid luminosity and temperature on metal content. An interesting by-product of this observational program are deep optical and near-infrared color-magnitude diagrams, which he intends to use for stellar population studies. Lucas is also involved in a collaboration that has recently observed two fields in the “maser galaxy” NGC 4258 with the Advance Camera for Surveys on HST to obtain a robust and accurate absolute calibration of the Cepheid Distance Scale. Lucas is also interested in the application of the near-infrared Tully-Fisher relation to map peculiar velocities in the nearby Universe, to obtain an independent measure of Omega (matter) and study nonlinear galaxy biasing scenarios. The first step in this long-term project is the completion of the 2MASS Redshift Survey, in which he is a collaborator.

Last updated or reviewed December 19, 2016.