Andrew Benson is a Staff Scientist at the Carnegie Observatories. His research program is focused on understanding the nature of dark matter and the process of galaxy formation, with a particular emphasis on formulating a coherent picture of the many different aspects of these problems. He has developed a model of dark matter and galaxy formation physics, Galacticus, which is available to the community as an open source project. The approach blends both analytic understanding and significant number-crunching that utilizes both in-house and external compute clusters.
Ana Bonaca is Staff Member at Carnegie Observatories. Her specialty is stellar dynamics and her research aims to uncover the structure and evolution of our galaxy, the Milky Way, especially the dark matter halo that surrounds it. In her research, she uses space- and ground-based telescopes to measure the motions of stars, and constructs numerical experiments to discover how dark matter affected them.
Juna Kollmeier - Founding Director
Juna Kollmeier is the Founding Director of CTAC and the Director of SDSS-V, an unprecedented panoptic spectroscopic survey that will yield optical and infrared spectra of over 6 million objects. Her research is primary focused on the emergence of structure in the universe. She combines cosmological hydrodynamic simulations and analytic theory to figure out how the tiny fluctuations in density that were present when the universe was only 300,000 years old, become the galaxies and black holes that we see now, after 14 billion years of cosmic evolution.
Anthony Piro is interested in a wide range of topics in theoretical astrophysics, including compact objects, astrophysical explosions, accretion flows, and stellar dynamics. His expertise is in nuclear physics, thermodynamics, condensed matter physics, General Relativity, and fluid and magnetohydrodynamics. He uses this background to predict new observational phenomena, as well as to understand the key underlying physical mechanisms responsible for current observations. He uses a combination of analytic and simple numerical models to build physical intuition for complex phenomena.
Mike Grudić is a NASA Hubble Fellow working in theoretical and computational astrophysics. His research mainly uses numerical hydrodynamics simulations to study star formation and the interstellar medium on a range of scales, and is particularly interested in understanding how feedback processes can regulate the formation of individual stars, star clusters, and entire galaxies. He is also interested in developing new numerical algorithms and software tools for running, analyzing, and visualizing astrophysical simulations in general.
James Johnson is a CTAC postdoctoral fellow broadly interested in galaxy evolution and the origin of the elements. Most of his work is centered on applying theoretical models of galactic chemical evolution to spectroscopic elemental abundance measurements of resolved stars in the Milky Way and nearby dwarf galaxies. Lately, he is particularly interested in what can be learned from these comparisons regarding how different elements are made in stars. James also dedicates a portion of his time to developing astrophysical software tools for broader use by the community.
Stacy Kim is a Nashman/CTAC postdoctoral fellow involved in the search for the particle identity of dark matter. She runs high-resolution, cosmological hydrodynamical simulations of the smallest and most dark matter dominated objects in the universe---dwarf galaxies---as a part of the EDGE Collaboration, and in particular leads the effort to run them with alternative dark matter physics. Informed by these simulations, she builds models to understand how dwarf galaxies' formation and evolution are affected by their dark matter content. She uses these models to determine the signatures that different dark matter particles leave on large populations of dwarf galaxies, and test if they can be detected by current and upcoming surveys
Ethan Nadler is a joint postdoctoral fellow at the Carnegie Observatories and USC. His research combines cosmological simulations, particle theory, and observations of the smallest galaxies and cosmic structures to understand the microphysical properties of dark matter. He also works at the interface of data and dark matter theory with collaborations including the Dark Energy Survey, Dark Energy Science Collaboration, and Satellites Around Galactic Analogs Survey.
Nondh Panithanpaisal is a joint postdoctoral fellow at the Carnegie Observatories and Caltech. His research focuses on disrupted star clusters known as stellar streams. Using state-of-the-art cosmological baryonic simulations of Milky Way-mass galaxies, he identifies and studies dwarf galaxy streams to constrain the nature of dark matter. At Carnegie, his research aims to develop numerical simulations that include globular cluster streams, which can be used to indicate the presence of substructures within the Galaxy.
Abigail Polin is a postdoctoral fellow joint between the Carnegie Observatories and Caltech. She is interested in supernovae and other astrophysical transients. She models these events using hydrodynamical and radiative transport simulations, and makes testable predictions that are compared to light curves and spectra of observed supernovae. She is also heavily involved in the interpretation of observed transients, especially sub-Chandrasekhar Type Ia supernovae and Calcium-rich transients.
Natalie “Nicole” Sanchez
Natalie “Nicole” Sanchez is a National Science Foundation MPS-Ascend Postdoctoral Fellow at Carnegie Observatories and Caltech. She is a member of the N-Body Shop collaboration and the GM Galaxies team, and she uses cosmological simulations of galaxies to better understand galaxy evolution. Nicole is particularly interested in understanding the mechanisms which drive the metal enrichment of the circumgalactic medium, especially the effects of supermassive black hole feedback.
David Vartanyan is a Hubble Einstein fellow working on the next generation of core-collapse supernovae simulations from bounce to breakout. His interests lie between high-energy astrophysics and high-performance computing. He is interested in deriving remnant properties, including mass distributions and ejecta abundances, from first-principle driven simulations that can reproduce the gamut of supernovae observations.
Sachi Weerasooriya is a postdoc at Carnegie Observatories working with Andrew Benson. She is interested in galaxy formation and evolution, specifically using Semi-Analytic models. She works on modeling galaxies for future surveys with a focus on accurate modeling of emission lines and calibrating models. She is also interested in dwarf galaxies and impact of major mergers on stellar streams.
Shengqi Yang is a Carnegie Theoretical Astrophysics Center (CTAC) Postdoctoral Fellow. She is interested in understanding galaxy evolution and star formation environment at high redshift, in particular the galaxy assembly era z~3 and the epoch of reionization at redshift higher than 6, from interstellar medium (ISM) sub-millimeter line measurements, simulations, and models. She is also interested in studying the interplay between the host and satellite dark matter halos, and further probe the nature of dark matter with semi-analytic models and simulations.
Shengqi earned her Ph.D. degree at the Center for Cosmology and Particle Physics (CCPP) of New York University in 2021. She got B.S. degree at the physics department of Fudan University in 2016.
Niusha Ahvazi is a graduate student at the University of California Riverside and works with Andrew Benson as a UCR-Carnegie Fellow. Her research interests include galaxy formation and evolution, particularly dwarf galaxies in cluster and group environments. She uses N-body/hydrodynamical simulations and semi-analytical models to understand the effects of dark matter physics on the properties of dwarf galaxies.
Annastasia Haynie is a graduate student at University of Southern California and works at the Carnegie Observatories as a USC-Carnegie Fellow. She is broadly interested in astrophysical explosions and works with Anthony Piro on numerically modeling the shock breakout signal of core-collapse supernovae. At USC, she is also a part of Vera Gluscevic's Cosmolab group, the President of the Women in Physics organization, Vice President of the Graduate Association for Students in Physics, and the Physics Department Liaison for the Women in Science and Engineering organization.
Paul Menker is a graduate student at the University of Southern California and USC-Carnegie. He works under Andrew Benson, and is broadly interested in the formation of the dark matter halos we observe today. To this end, he works with ensembles of plausible early universes, and attempts to reconcile these possibilities with observational data. At USC, he is also a member of the High-Energy Theory group, and the Graduate Association for Students in Physics.
Dimple Sarnaaik is a graduate student at the University of Southern California. She works with Andrew Benson on the formation history of dark matter through N-body simulations and analytic modeling. Simultaneously, she is working with Kris Pardo at USC on probing properties of dark matter through its gravitational effects and astrometry. She is also the President of the Graduate Association of Students in Physics at USC and is passionate about science communication.
Armen Tokadjian is a third year graduate student at the University of Southern California and works with Anthony Piro as a USC-Carnegie Fellow. His research is focused on the dynamics of star-planet-moon systems and the influence of tides on their evolution. He is especially interested in prospects for the habitability of extrasolar worlds.