Recognizing Astronomy PhD graduates from the 2020-2021 Academic year

Aug 30, 2021

In the past academic year, the UW Astronomy department awarded 4 doctoral degrees. These graduates completed their theses despite a shift to remote working environments and uncertainty created by COVID-19 pandemic. Here, we share a short blurb on each of their theses.


Dr. Jacqueline Goldstein (Thesis defended on January 15th, 2021)

Thesis title: “On Shaky Ground: New Methods and Models for Exploring Instabilities in Massive Stars”
Advisor: Prof. Rich Townsend and Prof. Ellen Zweibel

“What happens inside stars? To answer this question astronomers study stellar vibrations which, like heartbeats, are visible at the surface of a star but are generated within and are imprinted with information from the stellar interior. Astronomers make computer simulations of stars and their vibrations to compare with, and learn about, real stars and their vibrations that are observed with telescopes. For my thesis work, I improved and used a computational simulation software called GYRE, developed by Dr. Townsend here at UW-Madison, to simulate the vibrations of the most massive stars, which explode and generate the elements of life. The new simulations will allow for new comparisons with observations of the most massive stars, creating opportunities for new understanding about what happens within.” – Jacqueline


Dr. Kendall Hall (Thesis defended on August 5th, 2021)

Thesis title: “The Micro- and Macro- Physics of Giant Molecular Cloud Formation”

Advisor: Prof. Snezana Stanimirovic

“My research studies the formation of clouds of dust and gas in space. When I say dust, I mean dust like we know it here on Earth, small particles of silicon and carbon resembling dust like silt. The formation of these giant clouds depends on many things like age and what types of elements they have. My work focuses particularly on how to detect molecular hydrogen, which does not emit light itself in most circumstances.” – Kendall


Dr. Logan Jones (Thesis defended on August 6th, 2021)

Thesis title: “From Dusty To Dust-Free: Panchromatic Extreme Star Formation In Intermediate- To High-Redshift Galaxies”

Advisor: Prof. Amy Barger

"I use spectroscopy, or the science of dispersing light into its constituent colors, to understand the physics and chemistry of distant galaxies. On the one hand, my research tries to understand the first galaxies ever to form by searching for their more nearby, ultraviolet-bright cousins. On the other, I also study galaxies that form stars at such rapid rates that they become enshrouded in stardust, making them easily visible only at infrared and radio wavelengths. Both kinds of galaxies are some of the rarest and most unusual in the distant Universe, and studying them will help us to understand the growth of large structures across time and across the cosmos." – Logan


Dr. Julie Davis (Thesis defended on August 13th, 2021)

Thesis title: “The Gaseous Environments of Galaxies: From Neutral Hydrogen Reservoirs to Extreme Galaxy Feedback”

Advisor: Prof. Christy Tremonti and Prof. Eric Wilcots

“My thesis looked at two major steps in galaxy evolution: inflows and outflows. I first used radio telescopes to look at how galaxies acquire their fuel for star formation by investigating their neutral hydrogen reservoirs for signs of accretion. The second half of my thesis explored the properties of galactic winds and how they scale with their host galaxies for a sample with extremely fast outflows. I found that the surface density of star formation is the most important predictor of wind velocity, and, for the first time, demonstrated observationally that outflows slow down over time.” – Julie


Congratulations to these wonderful scientists. We wish them luck in their careers and future projects!

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