ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF ASTRONOMY
THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT AUSTIN
My research focuses on bridging our deepest understanding of galaxies, which comes from connecting the local galaxies in our backyard with the first seeds of galaxies in the very distant and early universe. I am especially interested in how star-forming galaxies formed, reionized the universe, and evolved to the diverse population we see today. Using ground- and space-based multiwavlength observations (mostly X-ray, UV, optical, and IR spectra), I study the chemical and stellar evolution of star-forming galaxies, near and far. These observations probe the feedback between the ionizing stellar populations and their surroundings, revealing the properties of massive stars, high-mass X-ray binaries, resonantly scattered emission, galactic-scale feedback, interstellar medium absorption, and nebular emission.
I am an assistant professor in the Department of Astronomy at the University of Texas at Austin. Prior to that, I was a postdoc at The Ohio State University, where I primarily worked with Rick Pogge on the CHemical Abundances of Spirals (CHAOS) project to study the chemical abundance patters across the faces of spiral galaxies using ultraviolet (UV), optical, and infrared (IR) spectra of nebular gas. Using comparisons to abundances from UV nebular lines and optical blue supergiant spectra, CHAOS is helping test the abundance discrepancy problem and determine an absolute abundance anchor for the local universe.
I am also interested in the evolution of galaxies, both near and far. During my first postdoc with Dawn Erb at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, I studied in detail the rest-frame UV and optical emission and absorption line properties of a few distant lensed galaxies. The study of UV emission lines, especially carbon and oxygen lines, has become a niche of mine, as I continue to build a sample of galaxies with C, N, and O measurements and models in order to understand the nucleosynthetic production methods and stellar feedback that produces the observed abundance trends.
Many of the best observations of UV emission-line spectra come from nearby, metal-poor, high ionization dwarf galaxies. This has lead me to discover galaxies with extreme emission line properties, including the largest equivalent width detections of nebular HeII and CIV emission amongst z~0 galaxies. Owing to the very hard ionizing radiation fields that necessarily accompany these galaxies, I have suggested these targets as a new class of high-z analogues that can help us study the sources responsible for cosmic reionization (e.g., extremely massive stars, stripped stars, high- mass X-ray binaries, etc.).
When I am not pondering profound astronomical questions, or soaking up the beauties of the night sky, I love to travel and play. I have a general goal to visit one new country a year and to keep exploring places that challenge me physically or emotionally. Whether on the trail or on a spin bike, I am always up for a good sweat. You can occasionally find me leading the pack at Cycle614 in Columbus, OH or on the walls of lululemon in Milwaukee, WI.
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Metal-poor, star-forming dwarf galaxies (M★ < 10^9 M⊙) provide unique chemically-unevolved laboratories to study the evolution pathways of galaxies similar to the conditions of galaxies in the early universe.
life beyond astronomy || instagram: @danielle.cycle614