Research

The majority of my research has focused on open star clusters in the Milky Way and the individual stars that make up their members. Of particular interest to me are binary stars and their formation and evolution within star clusters. I use statistical analyses to study the properties of star forming regions. I use numerical simulations to constrain properties which can then be compared against observations.

My numerical simulations make use of the The Astrophysical Multipurpose Use Software Environment (AMUSE), which can be found on GitHub.

Currently I am finalizing an automated process to extract open cluster member stars within Gaia DR2 using machine learning techniques.

My Publications

ORCID iD iconorcid.org/0000-0002-7916-1493

Determination of open cluster members using machine learning

Three-dimensional scatter plot of the Pleiades cluster stars found using Extreme Deconvolution Gaussian Mixture Models(XDGMMs) fitted to data in the Gaia DR2 data. The points are colored by their Gaia DR2 color. Using XDGMMs. I was able to construct a more thorough list of member stars within this star cluster, as well as other star clusters, since the use of XDGMM allows me to give full consideration of all uncertainties and correlations in the individual star's measurements when I'm fitting a model.

Scatter plot of 420 open clusters found in Gaia DR2 using Extreme Deconvolution Gaussian Mixture Models in galacto-centric cartesian Coordinates (galactic center at (0,0,0). Plotted lines represent models of Milky Way galactic arms. With a minimum number of assumptions the XDGMM fits were able to extract each open cluster's member stars from which we get mean cluster positions.

Numerical simulations of star clusters

Our Sun is thought to have originated from a star cluster and was eventually yanked away by the gravitational forces of the Milky Way as it was orbiting. Here is a top-down view of a simple star cluster (red dots) in orbit (blue dashed line) around a Milky Way type galaxy center (+ symbol). As the star cluster orbits around this galactic center, it slowly gets stretched out and loses its member stars. This is known as tidal stripping and is a known mechanism for the dissolution of small star clusters.

Understanding how star clusters dissolve within the Milky Way can help us form a complete picture of the background stars within the Milky Way disc. Here is a close-up animation of a star cluster orbiting around a Milky Way type galaxy and being dissoved over its lifetime. The star cluster (blue dots) evaporates over time. The stars within the star cluster are stripped (red dots) by the gravitational forces of the Milky Way.

About

I grew up in Florida where I enjoyed the ease of access to the beaches and the temperate Florida weather. I recieved my bachelor's of science degree in Astronomy from the University of Florida, after which I worked as a server at several bars in Gainesville, FL. In 2015, I started my master's thesis through the Fisk-Vanderbilt Bridge program, which I successful defended in 2017. Currently I am a Ph.D student at the Vanderbilt University Astronomy Department.

When I am not working on my astronomy projects I will be either working on my 30 year old motorcycle or playing with my two cats (Try to find a picture of each on this website).

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