I am an astrophysicist working on progenitors of supernovae, and other transient phenomena related to interacting stars.
I work in binary star evolution theory and make predictions for the types of binary star systems that can blow up as Type Ia supernovae, how often they occur, and where/when they would explode. I am a junior associate member of the Vera Rubin Observatory project (formerly LSST), which will discover >100s of new transients per night once in full operation. I am also interested in star systems that can be detected with gravitational waves, in particular with space-based observatories like LISA.
In 2017 I was awarded a Future Fellowship by the Australian Research Council in the School of Science at the University of New South Wales Canberra (UNSW Canberra), Australia. At UNSW Canberra I’m working on connecting different types of thermonuclear explosions to their progenitor stars (e.g. age of star when it exploded, how massive it was, what its companion star looked like). Many interacting binary stars that do not make supernovae will produce other interesting transients such as R Coronae Borealis stars, AM CVn binaries, novae, or they may instead collapse to form a neutron star (accretion-induced collapse). I am interested in all of these objects, too, and the various elements they synthesise. I am looking to hire graduate (e.g. PhD) students so please send me a message via contact form or email if you would like to know more! PhD scholarships ($35,000 AUD per year) are available for students with high academic standing (with H1/High Distinction in undergrad, and/or Masters by Research) to work under my supervision. On my UNSW Research Profile you can find out more information about research topic areas available for student projects.
Brief Bio: From April 2014 to October 2017 I was a postdoctoral fellow at the Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics (Mount Stromlo) in the group of Brian Schmidt at the Australian National University (most of that time I was funded by CAASTRO).
Before that, I was a postdoctoral fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics in the supernova group of Wolfgang Hillebrandt in Garching, Germany (2009 to 2014).
I received my PhD in 2009 from New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, New Mexico, USA, under the supervision of K. Belczynski. I spent the last year of my PhD at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass, USA, in J. Grindlay’s high energy group.
Pre-PhD, I received my Masters from Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada (2005), and my Bachelors degree from York University in Toronto, Canada (2002). I live in Canberra with my husband and 3 children, and I am originally from Canada’s capital city, Ottawa.
Feature article on Type Ia supernovae, with scientific explanations (and good graphics) for the interested general public (Science, June 2020, Vol. 368, Issue 6495)
My podcast interview with @Astrophiz Astronomy Podcasts (May 2019)