Research

 

I don’t seem to update this as frequently as I should, so I’ll keep this high level.

Here’s the ADS Query on me. There are a few false positives (I don’t moonlight in minor planets or do instrumentation) but that’s mostly me.

I’m interested in the interstellar medium - the stuff that exists between stars - in galaxies. I’ve done most of my work on how the cold, dense molecular interstellar medium fits into the big picture of galaxy structure, star formation, and all that. However, I’m generally interested in how gas arrives into galaxies, arranges itself into the distributions we see, forms stars, and then evolves under the influence of recently formed stars. I’m especially interested in how small scale processes like molecular cloud formation, star formation, and feedback work to produce the populations of galaxies that we see today.

As a practical matter, I use radio, millimeter-wave, and sub-millimeter telescopes to produce new data on the interstellar medium in galaxies and synthesize this with multiwavelength data from the infrared through the ultraviolet. I use molecular line spectroscopy to study the distribution and physical conditions in molecular interstellar material, radio and millimeter continuum to trace past and recent star formation, atomic line spectroscopy to look at the atomic hydrogen that makes up most of the interstellar gas and trace kinematics. With Alberto Bolatto and Karin Sandstrom, I’ve been pursuing dust as an alternative tracer of the interstellar medium, especially the molecular interstellar medium in cases where traditional tracers like CO are too faint to see. In the past I’ve made extensive use of BIMA, the Kitt Peak 12-m, the IRAM 30-m telescope, the PdBI, and CARMA. Right now my research focuses on the VLA and ALMA telescopes run by NRAO.

I’ve been involved in several big surveys of nearby galaxies, Fabian Walter and I led the HERACLES CO survey using the IRAM 30-m, I was a member of THINGS, KINGFISH, and CARMA STING. With the jumps forward offered by the upgraded VLA and ALMA I’m also currently pursuing detailed studies of individual galaxies in the context of the PAWS survey lead by Eva Schinnerer, the PHAT survey lead by Julianne Dalcanton, and ALMA surveys of the Antennae and NGC 253 with Brad Whitmore and Alberto Bolatto.

In the next few years, I hope we’ll use these data to derive a comprehensive understanding of how cloud-scale star formation links to galaxy scaling relations, how to properly trace H2 in galaxies, some quantitative constraints on feedback, the true distribution of star formation in ultra-bright merging galaxies, and the contrast between star-forming structures in starbursts and normal disk galaxies. Excitingly now (much more than five or ten years ago), the tools and data are right there at our fingertips to address these questions that have persisted in the field for many years.