About Me

I am currently a member/post-doc at the Institute for Advanced Study. My primary research interests are accretion disks, accreting white dwarfs, astrophysical fluid dynamics, boundary layers, convection, dynamos, radiative transfer and numerical simulations. I focus a lot of my efforts on understanding accretion onto white dwarfs because these are the best systems to confront accretion theory with observations. I then hope to apply the knowledge gained here to other astrophysical systems.

I started grad school at the Department of Physics, UCSB in the fall of 2011, and finished my Ph.D. in June 2017. I worked with my advisor Omer Blaes studying accretion disks in cataclysmic variable (CV) and other accreting white dwarf systems. Dwarf novae and AM CVn are of particular interest to me due to their outbursts which are triggered by ionization instabilities (hydrogen for dwarf novae, and helium for AM CVn) in the accretion disk.

Hydrogen is the simplest element in the universe, yet its ability to be ionized into a proton and electron gives rise to vastly more complicated physics in accretion disks. The sharp transition from neutral to ionized hydrogen coincides with a highly temperature sensitive opacity, which is the source of the hydrogen ionization instability and is thus responsible for the outbursts of dwarf novae. These outbursts are very sensitive to the inner-workings of the disk, much more so than steady-state disks, making them of great importance to study.

Fortunately observers found these systems interesting long ago. The first dwarf nova was discovered in 1855 and astronomers (both professionals and amateurs) have continued to find and observe these systems since. The dwarf nova SS Cygni is one of the most observed variable stars in the night sky, and has received virtually constant observations since its discovery in 1896, and since then over 600 dwarf novae have been discovered. Therefore dwarf novae have a wealth of observation data to compare with theoretical models and simulations.

In my endeavors to understand CV accretion disks, I have been fortunate enough to collaborate with experts around the world including Shigenobu Hirose and Jean Pierre Lasota. With their help I have been able to run shearing box simulations (using Zeus) in the dwarf nova regime and use this data to improve the disk instability model and make outburst lightcurves based on MRI physics (see my publications).

As an undergraduate at UCSC I worked on my senior thesis with my advisor Enrico Ramirez-Ruiz and former graduate student Rachel Strickler. We worked on a hydrodynamic simulation of a supernova exploding in an OB association. The purpose of this project is to attempt to understand why the magnetar (highly magnetized neutron star) SGR 1900+14 has no known SNR association.

The spring of my sophomore year at UCSC I started analyzing galaxy merger simulations under different viewing conditions (e.g. redshift, viewing inclination, and broadband filter). I was advised primarily by Elizabeth McGrath, a postdoctoral fellow, with additional guidance from Professor Joel Primack.

Supernova Exploding in an OB association.