My current research at UC Berkeley involves polarization in forming stars. I am the principal investigator of the TADPOL collaboration, which comprises 26 astronomers from ten institutions in the U.S. and Canada. We use CARMA, a millimeter-wave interferometer near Bishop, CA, to map the magnetic fields in the densest regions of cold, dusty star-forming clouds, as we work toward an answer of a decades-old question: How important are magnetic fields in the early stages of star formation?
In the spring of 2010, I began working with Dick Plambeck, a research astronomer at UC Berkeley, on the testing, installation, and calibration of the 1mm dual-polarization receiver system for CARMA. CARMA’s polarization capabilities have been available to all observers since the spring of 2012.
My first research project at UC Berkeley was with Geoff Bower, an astronomy professor, and involved calibrating the primary beam of the Allen Telescope Array a centimeter-wave radio interferometer in Northern California. The publication can be found here.
And rewinding back to the beginning: my research career started in the summer of 2005, when I worked as an NSF REU intern with physics and astronomy professor Dan Watson at the University of Rochester. I worked on a sample of Class 0 protostars observed by the Spitzer Space Telescope; our work resulted in a paper in Nature discussing the observational signatures of an accretion shock caused by material falling from the protostellar envelope onto the deeply embedded protostellar disk of the protostar NGC 1333-IRAS 4B.