Wen-fai Fong (Co-chair)Fong

Hello! I am an Einstein Fellow and my research focuses on explosive transients including gamma-ray bursts, unusual supernovae, and tidal disruption events. Before moving to Tucson in August 2014, I grew up in Rochester, NY and went to school in Boston, MA, so this is my first life chapter outside of the Northeast, and I am loving it! Within the department, I help to run a mentoring program for graduate students and postdocs. When I am not at the office or a telescope, I like to travel/hike around the world, work on my landscape photography, play sports… and I am trying to learn the banjo!


Christina Williams (Co-chair)

WilliamsI’m a new postdoc at University of Arizona. I currently work with the team building the Near Infrared Camera (NIRCam) for the James Webb Space Telescope, which will be launched in 2018. I study galaxy evolution, and in particular I am interested in the different physical processes that cause galaxies to stop forming stars at high-redshifts. Before doing my PhD in astronomy I lived in Alaska, where I studied Geophysics and worked at the Geophysical Institute studying the coastal sea ice on the Arctic Ocean. I love exploring the world and spend as much time as I can rock climbing or snowboarding in the mountains.


Decker French (Mentoring Coordinator – Undergrad Program)

I’m a fourth year graduate student at Steward Observatory. I work with Ann Zabludoff on galaxy evolution and gravitational lensing. I study galaxies in transition between types using multiwavelength observations, and how to use giant clusters of galaxies as gravitational telescopes. Outside of astronomy, I like hiking, biking, and do volunteer search and rescue. Webpage:


Vanessa Bailey

vanessa1I’m a 6th year grad student, splitting my time between exoplanet observations and high-contrast imaging instrumentation. I spend about 2 months a year commissioning instruments at LBT and Magellan, and intersperse some science in when I can! In undergrad I worked on mechanical and thermal design for a balloon-borne telescope developed to study the polarization of the cosmic microwave background. I’m also an education and public outreach enthusiast and spend time each summer working at Astronomy Camp at Kitt Peak. Outside of astronomy I enjoy knitting/crocheting and hiking.


Evan Schneider


 I am a fifth-year graduate student and NSF fellow at the University of Arizona. I find astronomy fascinating in general, and am interested in a wide variety of topics, including star and planet formation, high-redshift galaxies, active galactic nuclei, and galaxy evolution. My dissertation research focuses on high resolution simulations of gas dynamics, for which I am writing a new hydrodynamics code. When I’m not doing astronomy, I enjoy spending time outdoors; my favorite activities include hiking, rock climbing, and walking my dogs. On indoor days I can often be found reading, and like any good grad student, drinking coffee.


Betsy MillsBetsy Mills @ VLA

Hi! I am a Jansky fellow, currently based in Socorro, NM, but visiting Tucson every chance I get! I will be in Tucson full time starting in September 2015 for a year. I study the gas in the center of our Galaxy using molecules like ammonia and hydrogen cyanide (which tend to be smelly, or poisonous, or both). I am looking at how to best measure the properties of the gas in extreme regions like this, and how these properties may affect the resulting star formation. When I am not wishing I could plug my earphones into the VLA just like Jodie Foster in Contact, I am knitting, cooking, and reading trashy scifi novels


Ekta Patel

patelI’m a first year graduate student at the University of Arizona. Currently, I am working with Gurtina Besla to study the properties and evolution of massive satellite galaxies in cosmological simulations. I am interested in these systems because our Local Neighborhood contains a perfect pair of massive satellite galaxies — the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds. It is likely that the Magellanic Clouds only recently fell into the Milky Way’s halo, so it is very interesting to study these systems in a theoretical context in an attempt to understand what will happen to our own cosmic playground. During my free time, I enjoy cooking, crafting, and exploring Tucson’s beer and coffee culture.



Michelle Wilsonwilson

I’m a fifth year graduate student at Steward Observatory working with Ann Zabludoff.  My main research interests are in galaxy formation and evolution.  Recently, I’ve been creating a galaxy group catalog at moderate redshifts (0 < z < 1) in fields of strong galaxy-scale gravitational lenses.  I’m using this catalog to look at the line of sight mass distributions and explore group and group galaxy properties.  When I’m not doing research, I enjoy knitting, reading, and dancing, among other things.



Alex Abate
Amali Vaz
Christine O’Donnell
Catherine Elder
Debbie Schmidt
Hanae Inami
Jeyhan Kartaletepe
Julia Kamenetzky
Kristin Block
Karin Sandstrom
Katie Morzinski
Lisa May Walker
Michelle Edwards
Megan Reiter
Rachel Bezanson
Elisabetta Rigliaco
Rachel Smullen
Stacy Alberts
Colette Salyk
Alessondra Springmann
Stephanie Sallum
Megan Kiminki

Former members

We’ve had many members over the years who have now moved on to bigger and better things post-gradschool and post-postdoc. You can find their blurbs here