My scientific interests lie primarily in theoretical cosmology, including studies of the first stars and quasars in the universe, cosmological reionization (particularly helium reionization), cosmic element synthesis, the cosmic microwave background, the physics and chemistry of gas in the early universe, dark matter, and gravitational lensing. I have also worked in high-energy astrophysics (gamma-ray bursts and cosmic rays) as a graduate student. As an undergraduate at Cornell working with Prof. Steven Squyres, I analyzed and processed the first three years of data from the Magellan Mission to Venus, creating unique databases of images that have been widely used by the planetary science research community.
Undergraduate Research: With internal and external grant support, I have developed a rigorous undergraduate research program at USF. I have worked with many physics major (and astrophysics minor) students on a variety of theory cosmology projects, as well as projects in radio astronomy through the ALFALFA Collaboration. ALFALFA is the most extensive and most sensitive large-scale astronomical survey to date of the neutral hydrogen in the nearby universe from 21-cm observations using the world’s largest radio telescope, the 305-meter Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico. My students have won numerous scholarships and awards, and have presented their research results at national meetings and workshops, as well at the annual USF Creative Activity and Research Day events.
Recent students include Long Yan Yung (starting his Ph.D. at Rutgers in Fall 2014) and Benjamin van Kleeck. Long Yan was the 2012 recipient of the USF Arthur Furst scholarship for his research, the first time this prestigious award was given to the Dept. of Physics and Astronomy at USF.
Past students include Haley Sharp, Christopher Downing, and Yue Zhao and Yang Wang (graduate school, UCLA). Haley completed her M.S. in Planetary Astronomy at San Diego State University in 2014, and is now Planetarium Director at the Science Factory museum in Eugene, Oregon.