Month: September 2014

Profiles of Astronomers: Eddie Schwieterman

This week’s astronomer is currently a 5th year graduate student here at the University of Washington, Eddie Schwieterman.

Who are you and where are you from?

My name is Eddie Schwieterman. I’m a dual-degree PhD student in astronomy and astrobiology at the University of Washington. I’m from Florida and did my undergraduate work there at the Florida Institute of Technology.

How did you become interested in Astronomy?
I’ve been interested in science since a young age when my father took my sister and I fossil hunting. That interest carried into astronomy in high school when I viewed the 2004 transit of Venus through my telescope. I thought – how cool — this is a planet crossing the face of a star! I wondered if any alien observers were watching our planet just at the moment dot across the Sun.

If you’re an astronomer (grad student/faculty), what do you study?
My research activities include observations of Earth as an exoplanet, climate, photochemical, and radiative transfer modeling of terrestrial planet atmospheres, and generating synthetic spectra of model exoplanets. Ultimately, my goal is to contribute to the body of knowledge that will allow us to detect biosignatures on planets orbiting within the habitable zones of their parent stars.

What’s the coolest thing (not literal) in the Universe?
The coolest thing about the Universe is that if you have the right configuration of parent star(s) and planets, and one of those planets has the right composition – you can end up with a complex living world that breeds microbes and forests, pound scum and coral reefs, sentient beings and technological civilization. The idea that one part of the universe can begin to understand itself – to me that’s the coolest thing.

What’s the coolest thing outside of your field?
I have a lot of interests outside of my field. One of the things I love learning about is the ocean – the magnificence and complexity of the things that live there and the mystery of what we still don’t know.

What’s your favorite non-astronomy hobby?
I maintain some freshwater aquaria at home, which is really fun. I also like getting involved in community issues through organizations like the Graduate and Professional Student Senate.

Is there anything else you’d like us to know about you?
I guess my website. It’s over here: http://www.astro.washington.edu/users/eschwiet/index.html

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UW Planetarium Open Nights

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Beginning Friday, October 3rd, the UW Planetarium will begin hosting open nights. They will be scheduled, so you can check this page, or the twitter page for updates on when they’ll occur. The event page for the first one is here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1502564589990101/ and is catering mainly to UW graduate students and graduate school alumni. The nights that follow will be open those who are interested.

The format is pretty open. One of our illustrious presenters will give a 1+ hour presentation inside our university’s World Wide Telescope-powered planetarium. The presentation will be up to them entirely, and they may decide to take requests from the public as well. Feel free to bring friends and/or family, as well as tons and tons of questions!

We hope this will be as enjoyable to you to hear about the Universe as it will be for us to talk about it.

Until then!

Profiles of Astronomers: Brett Morris

brett_shotThis week we have the profile of second-year Astrobiology graduate student, Brett Morris!

Who are you and where are you from?
Brett Morris from Long Island, New York.

How did you become interested in Astronomy?
I have been for as long as I can remember.

If you’re an astronomer (grad student/faculty), what do you study?
I study exoplanets and their atmospheres, with applications to planet formation and astrobiology.

What’s the coolest thing (not literal) in the Universe?
That nearly every star in the night sky likely has unseen orbiting planets.

What’s the coolest thing outside of your field?
Genetics and evolutionary biology.

What’s your favorite non-astronomy hobby?
Making and consuming music.

Anything else you’d like to have known about you?
You can include my horrendous website and that I worked at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center for a year at the Goddard Center for Astrobiology.

Profiles of Astronomers: Dave Brodhead

In order for you to get to know us better, we’re going to periodically feature some info about astronomers in the University of Washington’s Department of Astronomy as well as our regular presenters at the UW’s Planetarium. This first installment will feature Dave Brodhead, one of our regulars!

Who are you and where are you from?
I am Dave Brodhead, B.A. in Ancient Greek, from Everett, WA.

 

How did you become interested in Astronomy?
Astronomy has always fascinated me.  I took ASTR 101 from Professor Laws during Spring quarter 2012 and loved it.  I decided to bring a Sunday School class which I taught (ages 8-10) to the planetarium.  Many of these students did not have college-educated parents.  Chris and Amit helped to get me trained to use the facilities.  With help from the Classics department and Latin professor, Dr. Connors, the event was a success and the students loved it (see https://classics.washington.edu/news/2012/07/02/4th-graders-explore-cosmos-little-help-classics).  Since then, I have been volunteering at the UW Planetarium and Mobile Planetarium as often as my time permits.  I also try to get out and do some nighttime observing as well.

 

What do you study?
I am a Classicist with a research emphasis in ancient (Greco-Roman mostly) and modern gynecology and obstetrics, particularly dystocia or difficult childbirth.  I am currently applying to medical schools.

 

What’s the coolest thing in the Universe?
For me its the images from the Ultra Deep Field Lens of the Hubble.  I can’t get over just how much “stuff” there is out there!  It is really amazing!

 

What’s the coolest thing outside your field?
Gynecology and Obstetrics.  I am really interested in the growing numbers of midwife-assisted births and increasing rates of infant and maternal mortality in the U.S. in recent years.

 

What’s your favorite non-astronomy hobby?
Legos.  One childhood just wasn’t enough…

 

Anything else you’d like to have known about you?
I always like to learn about people’s family (kids, spouse, dog, etc.), interesting places they have lived (could be abroad or domestically), and languages they speak/know, if applicable.  So… I have been married for over 5 years.  I have three kids: twin daughters who are 4 and a son who is 2.  I lived in southern Chile for 15 months.  I know English, Spanish, ancient Greek, Latin, and a bit of Old English (Anglo Saxon).