Photo Credit: Prof. Christine Berven.
I was born in Port Colborne, Ontario, Canada and received my Ph.D. degree from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. I've worked as a postdoc and course instructor at the University of Oklahoma and Harvard University and spent a year as a visitor at the astronomy institute of the University of Munich. I've spent a year at the University of the Barcelona on a fellowship from the Spanish Ministry of Education and Science and two years at Oak Ridge National Laboratory as postdoctoral research associate. I've been a visiting assistant professor at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Middle Tennessee State University, Idaho State University, and New Mexico Tech. I am member of the Canadian Astronomical Society (CASCA).
My research area is theoretical astrophysics with primary research interests in supernovae and radiative transfer.
Supernovae are the giant explosions of old stars. Hundreds of these are observed every year, but almost all in remote galaxies, and so they are observationally very dim though intrinsically they have brightnesses comparable to whole galaxies. Only a few observationally bright ones are seen every year in nearby galaxies. Since 1000 CE, only 5 have been observed in the Milky Way (see Wikipedia: List of supernovae) and the last of these in about 1680 (when it was actually not observed, but only inferred to have occurred). Supernovae are important for producing the heavy elements (i.e., most elements heavier than carbon), and so are key actors in cosmic history---without them there would be no rocky planets or life as we know it.
To understand supernovae and almost everything else in the universe, we have have to interpret the light we see from the objects. This interpretation is often straightforward. The light is created by a complex structure. We create a simplified model of that structure and then calculate the synthetic light the model emits using radiative transfer. Comparing the synthetic light to observed light allows us to assess the validity of the model. Years, decades, lifetimes go by in a cycle of improving observations, models, and radiative transfer techniques. My research papers can be found at NASA ADS---with a few errors I'm working to correct.
Nothing too interesting. I'm an amateur writer---I've written three plays---but no one's ever read them. I draw cartoons too: