ZTF Faces

This section features PhD students, postdocs and young faculty who are part of the global ZTF collaboration.

Antonio Rodriquez

PhD student at Caltech, USA

Where was your starting point and how did you discover astronomy?

I come from Salinas, California, which is a small agricultural town on the Central Coast of California. The town is predominantly (over 75%) Hispanic, with many first- and second-generation immigrants from Mexico, like my parents, having come to work in agriculture. I attended the public schools of Salinas while growing up and was fortunate to attend Stanford University, where I earned my B.S. in Physics.

I’ve liked astronomy since I was in third grade and always enjoyed math and physics. I became particularly interested in astronomy research while at Stanford. I was interested by ZTF while entering grad school at Caltech since time-domain astronomy seemed like the next frontier. With so many interesting discoveries, I knew I wanted to join the ZTF team.

What are you playing with in the ZTF playground?

I look for compact object binaries within the Milky Way. I am currently finding and characterizing magnetic cataclysmic variables, which are highly magnetic white dwarfs accreting from a red dwarf main-sequence star. These white dwarfs have magnetic fields from 1 to over 100 million times stronger than that of the Sun!

Where do you want to steer your rocket in the future?

I hope to become a professional astronomer and make positive contributions to the field. I’ve had the great fortune of having supportive and encouraging mentors, and hope to pass on knowledge and wisdom to the next generation.

If you were not an astronomer, what would you be?

A professional musician. I create music (and upload to major services like Apple Music and Spotify!), which I see as a creative process not very different from scientific research.

A book that shook your worldview?

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

If you’ve had a bad day at work, you will….

Run away. I’ll go on a run and come back feeling much better afterwards.