Welcome!

I'm a third year astronomy graduate student at the University of Maryland, College Park. I study molecular and ionized gas kinematics in nearby galaxies and how the kinematics relate to their formation and evolution.

Research

I work with Alberto Bolatto to study the molecular gas kinematics in the galaxies from the EDGE-CALIFA Survey. I am interested in comparing the molecular gas kinematics to the stellar and ionized components in order to study any anomalous velocity structure in these galaxies, such as counter-rotating molecular structures or outflows. These structures could be indicative of a starburst, merger, or active galactic nucleus (AGN), which are difficult to disentangle without the kinematics of the molecular, stellar, and ionized components. Molecular outflows, AGN, and mergers all have feedback effects which can greatly alter the star formation and evolutionary history of the galaxy. Better understanding the feedback mechanisms which regulate star formation is critical for our understanding of galaxy formation and evolution.

The EDGE-CALIFA Survey

The EDGE-CALIFA Survey traces CO gas in 126 nearby galaxies which have correpsonding optical spectraIFU data from CALIFA.

As an undergraduate at the University of Arizona, I worked with Dan Marrone to study the submillimeter polarized emission from Sagittarius A* (Sgr A*), the black hole at the center of the Milky Way. I studied the linear and circular polarization fractions, as well as how the polarization fraction changes over time.

A Simulation of Sgr A*

The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) will spatially resolve the accretion disk surrounding Sgr A*; this will be our first resolved picture of a black hole! The image above shows a simulated image of the accretion disk. (Image credit: Scott Noble/RIT)

As a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) student at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) in Socorro, NM, I worked with Juergen Ott, Dave Meier, and Annie Hughes to study the dense molecular gas in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) to determine the spatial distribution of the dense gas tracers found in clouds across the LMC. We also compared our findings to canonical star formation laws.

The LMC

The LMC as seen from the southern hemisphere. (Image credit: L. Comolli, L. Fontana, G. Ghioldi, E. Sordini)

Outreach

At the University of Maryland, I have become involved in GRAD-MAP, which pairs undergraduates primarily from Washington DC area historically black colleges and universities, minority serving institutions, and community colleges with a mentor in either the UMD astronomy or physics departments. During the winter break, these students attend a ten-day Winter Workshop, where they learn Python and work on a research project with their mentor(s) and learn information and resourcces to help them apply for graduate school. In January 2017, I served as a research mentor for a student, and I look forward to my continued involvement in this program!

Prior to coming the the University of Maryland, I worked in education and public outreach at the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO) in Tucson, AZ as the lead student. I ran programs for schools and classrooms, developed activities and materials, organized teacher workshops, published a monthly newsletter and bi-monthly podcast, coordinated the translation of materials, and ran a social media site. I was also one of the key developers for the International Year of Light 2015 Quality Lighting Teaching Kit, which has been distributed to partner organizations worldwide.
See me as a comic book character here!
And here!


In addition to both formal and informal classroom experience with NOAO, I have been an undergraduate teaching assistant (UTA) for two courses. For two years, I taught an entry level, fully online math course. I worked one-on-one with students as they worked through their online textbook at their own pace. I explained concepts, worked problems, managed a section of 10 students at a time, and worked on goal setting with the students. I was also an undergraduate teaching coordinator for this course, meaning I mentored and trained the other UTAs. For one semester, I was a UTA for an introductory mechanics class for engineering students. I ran recitation sessions during which I assisted the students with difficult concepts.

Contact Me

  • Address

    Department of Astronomy
    University of Maryland
    College Park, MD 20742

    Office: PSC 1260
  • Email

    rlevy@astro.umd.edu