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Edo Berger

I am a Professor of Astronomy at Harvard University. With my students and postdoctoral fellows, we research a wide range of explosive and eruptive astrophysical phenomena, including gamma-ray bursts, tidal disruption events, super-luminous supernovae, and other optical transients (from the Pan-STARRS project and elsewhere), as well as magnetic activity in sub-stellar objects.  We use observations across the electromagnetic spectrum - from radio to γ-rays - utilizing observatories around the world and in space.

I was previously a joint Hubble Postdoctoral Fellow (2004-2007) and Carnegie-Princeton Postdoctoral Fellow (2004-2008) at the Carnegie Observatories and Princeton University.

I received a PhD in Astrophysics from Caltech in 2004, with a thesis focused on multi-wavelength studies of gamma-ray bursts, their host galaxies, and type Ib/c core-collapse supernovae.

Since 2013 I have also been serving as the Director of Undergraduate Studies in the department of astronomy.

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Peter K. G. Williams

I am a postdoctoral researcher in the Berger Lab. Although my astrophysical interests encompass all sorts of transients, I particularly specialize in observational studies of extrasolar magnetospheres. I also spend a lot of time thinking about — and developing tools for — data analysis, scientific software development, and scholarly communication. I obtained my PhD from UC Berkeley's Department of Astronomy in 2012.

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Griffin Hosseinzadeh

I'm a postdoctoral researcher at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, where I work with Professor Edo Berger. In my research, I try to link the zoo of explosions we observe in the night sky to the stars that produce them, in order to understand the last years to months of a star's life. I'm also interested in what we can learn from optical observations of gravitational wave sources. I recently graduated from the UC Santa Barbara with a Ph.D. in astrophysics. My thesis focused on rapid follow-up of nearby supernovae with Las Cumbres Observatory, a global network of robotic telescopes. Before that, I received a B.A. in physics from UC Berkeley in 2012. In my free time, I like to play music (trombone, bass, etc.) and go on long bike trips.

Peter Blanchard

Peter blanchard

I am currently a 6t year graduate student.  For my PhD, I am leading a large observational effort to find and study rare types of cosmic transients.  We primarily focus on superluminous supernovae, exceptionally luminous explosions of massive stars, and tidal disruption events, luminous flares that occur when a star is tidally disrupted by a supermassive black hole.  We use a suite of telescopes located in Arizona, Chile, and space!  In addition to the study of the transients themselves, I am interested in the host galaxy environments where transients occur and what that tells us about the progenitors.  As part of our group's study of GW170817, the first neutron star binary merger detected with gravitational waves and light, I analyzed observations of its host galaxy.  I have also studied the environments of long gamma-ray bursts using the largest sample published to date of Hubble Space Telescope observations of their host galaxies.  I started my astronomy career as an amateur astronomer doing astrophotography in the deserts of California and mountains of Colorado.  Before coming to Harvard, I received a bachelor's degree in physics and astrophysics from the University of California, Berkeley.  In my free time, I enjoy skiing, hiking, and exploring New England.

Ashley Villar

Ashley VillaR

I am a fifth year student, studying eruptions, explosions and collisions of stars. Specifically, I model UVOIR light curves of extragalactic transients. Before coming to Harvard, I graduated from MIT with a degree in Physics. Outside of work, I enjoy rock climbing, vegan baking and playing with my dog Apollo. 

Tarraneh Eftekhari

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I am a fourth year graduate student working primarily on radio observations of astrophysical transients, including tidal disruption events and fast radio bursts. In the past, I worked as part of the Long Wavelength Array collaboration based out of the University of New Mexico. Though I'm east-coast bound for the time being, I'm a desert dweller at heart, hailing from the enchanted mountains of Northern New Mexico.

Sebastian Gomez

Sebastian Gomez

I am a fourth year graduate student working on the discovery and classification of exotic supernovae, particularly on the optical study of superluminous supernovae and tidal disruption events. I graduated from The University of Texas at El Paso with a degree in Physics and have previously focused on the study of X-ray binaries, especially on the discovery of new galactic black hole X-ray binaries. In my spare time I like to do archery and photography.

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I am a first year graduate student working on transient host galaxies and supernovae, most recently modeling hosts of superluminous supernovae and GW170817 photometry. I did my undergrad at the University of Washington where I studied the supernovae-rich host galaxy NGC6946, and developed a sonification package to audibly classify supernovae lightcurves for Zooniverse. In my spare time, I enjoy public outreach, babysitting my sister’s puppy Basil, long freezing walks, and baking pies.

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Kiranjyot (Jasmine) Gill

I am a first year graduate student specializing in core-collapse supernovae (CCSNe) gravitational wave astrophysics with Advanced LIGO (aLIGO), Advanced Virgo (AdVirgo), and beyond. The detection of GWs from a CCSN would be the second watershed event in the newly-born field of GW astronomy. GWs, produced by the quadrupole distribution of energy and mass, are intimately connected with the inner dynamics of explosion and probe the degree of asymmetry and angular momentum of the explosion, as well as evolve differently for (1) neutrino driven convection dynamics (2) magneto-rotational explosions or (3) the abrupt termination of GW emission that would signal the formation of a black hole. For these reasons, I work with a range of fields in order to improve detector sensitivities at high frequencies, develop reliable 3D CCSNe simulations with the inclusion of progenitor physics, and introduce Bayesian-based data analysis techniques to truly establish a multi-messenger approach in maximizing efforts to perform GW science with CCSNe.


Former Members

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Maria Drout: Former graduate student, now a faculty member at University of Toronto. 

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Wen-Fai Fong: Former graduate student, now a faculty member at Northwestern University.

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Tanmoy Laskar: Former graduate student, now a Research Officer at University of Bath.

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George Miller: Former graduate student.

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Ragnhild Lunnan: Former graduate student, now a postdoctoral fellow at Stockholm University.

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Ashley Zauderer: Former postdoctoral researcher, now a program director at NSF.

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Ryan Chornock: Former postdoctoral researcher, now a faculty member at Ohio University.

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Kate Alexander: Former graduate student, now a Hubble fellow at Northwestern University.

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Philip Cowperthwaite: Former graduate student, now a Hubble fellow at Carnegie Observatories.

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Matt Nicholl: Former postdoctoral researcher, now a Royal Astronomical Society Research Fellow at the University of Edinburgh.

Former/Current Undergraduate Students

  • Tova Holmes, '11

  • Caroline Huang, '11

  • Ethan Kruse, '09

  • Isaac Shivvers, '10

  • Carrol Wainwright, '05

  • Spencer Scott, ‘19

  • Natania Wolansky, '13

  • Benjamin Cook, '13

  • Camile Leibler, '12

  • Meredith MacGregor, '11