Teaching, at university level or for the general public (see my outreach page for more details), has an important place in my professional career as astrophysicist. My current position (faculty equivalent) comes with many opportunities to fulfill my goal to foster the curiosity of fledging students, help them finding the best career path, and teach them important concepts such as scientific thinking, writing, and presenting, to equip them with all they need to become successful scientists. Below, I list students I have (co-) mentored, other important workshops, as well as classroom teaching.
(Visiting) Graduate Students
As a research faculty, we do not have a graduate student program at Caltech/IPAC. However, we offer a competitive IPAC Graduate Student Fellowship, with which students can work with our faculty on a research project for 6 months. Depending on funding, 2-3 students are accepted each year. In addition to this, I co-mentor students from other universities through collaborative projects.
A list of current and past (visiting) graduate students:
- Patrizia Bussatori (co-mentoring, 2022 - present, University Padova, Italy) is studying with Paolo Cassata (Univ. Padova), Mirka Dessauges-Zavadsky (Univ. Geneva), and myself the properties of star forming clumps in ALPINE galaxies by combining ALMA and JWST imaging from COSMOS-Web.
- Rebecca Minsley (co-mentoring, 2021 - 2022, Bates College Arizona) uses optical spectroscopic observation with the STIS instrument to probe the reddening due to dust in local galaxies. The novel technique uses the broad (non-nebular) Wolf-Rayet Helium emission lines, which we verified using a pilot sample of galaxies in Leitherer, Lee, Faisst (2019).
- Brittany Vanderhoof (co-mentoring, 2020 - 2022, Rochester Institute of Technology) is studying the interstellar medium properties of galaxies at a redshift of z=4.5 by a joint analysis of their optical [OII] emission and far-infrared properties observed with ALMA. Vanderhoof et al. (2022)
- Yoshinobu Fudamoto (co-mentored, 2019, University of Geneva) studied the fraction of dust obscured star formation in galaxies at redshifts z=4-5 from the ALPINE survey. is studying the interstellar medium properties of galaxies at a redshift of z=4.5 by a joint analysis of their optical [OII] emission and far-infrared properties observed with ALMA. Fudamoto et al. (2020)
- Rebecca Larson (co-mentored, 2018, Univ. Texas) used the fact that galaxies cluster differently to estimate the redshift of galaxy samples. "Clustering redshifts" provide a complementary method to photometric redshifts and will be useful to the next generation of wide-field surveys carried out with Roman or Euclid. Publication in Preparation
SURF Undergraduate Students
The Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURF) program gives undergraduate students the opportunity to conduct research during 10 weeks under the guidance of experienced mentors working at the frontier of their fields. The students join group meetings, workshops, and seminars, hence get to experience the everyday scientific environment. I had the opportunity to mentor several SURF students:
- Teresa Huang (2021, Caltech) is using computer vision machine learning techniques to identify stars on images. The identification of stars is important to cross-align images taken by different facilities, remove contamination from galaxy samples, and measure stellar streams through their propert motion on the sky. These concepts will play a major role in wide-field surveys undertaken by the next generation of telescopes.
- Thomas Venville (2019, Univ. Swinburne / Caltech) build a framework to identify transient and variable sources with machine learning.
- Catalina Miritescu (2016, Caltech) studied the dependence of strong optical [OIII] emission and the escape fraction of UV photons in galaxies at redshifts of z=1. For this, she measured [OII] and [OIII] emission for galaxies in the COSMOS field. High [OIII]/[OII] ratios characterize galaxies in the early Universe - the study of similar galaxies at low redshifts can therefore give us clues on the physics of the first galaxies.
- Ivana Barisic (2015, Univ. of Zagreb / Caltech) studied the dust properties of galaxies at z=6 with ALMA and the Hubble Space Telescope. Barisic et al. (2017)
FIELDS Undergraduate Students
The Fellowships and Internships in Extremely Large Data Sets (FIELDS) started in 2015 by Prof. Mobasher at the University California Riverside (UCR), gives minorities underrepresented in STEM fields the opportunity to work for 10 weeks in research groups at Caltech and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). I had the opportunity to mentor the following undergraduate students as parts of FIELDS:
- Ishita Korde (2019, UC Riverside, Computer Science) wrote a program to measure emission lines from spectra taken in the COSMOS field. A large catalog of complete line measurements can be used for the calibration of simulations that predict the numbers of such galaxies to be observed with the Euclid and the Roman space telescope.
Workshops are ideal to efficiently reach a large audience at various career levels. I contributed to many different workshops, some of which I have led myself together with a great team.
- Machine Learning Workshop II (AAS #237 - 2021): This workshop was a follow-up of the previous workshop held at the 2020 meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS). Also this workshop was a success with more than 110 attendees eager to learn about machine learning. Due to the meeting being virtual, this workshop extended over two days. In this workshop, material was covered in more depth and at a more basic level, which was one of the demands that crystalized out of the previous workshop. This workshop was fully organized and led by myself, more information can be found on the workshop webpage.
- Machine Learning Workshop I (AAS #235 - 2020): The goal of this workshop held at the yearly meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) was to open the door to various machine learning techniques (supervised and unsupervised) for astronomers of different career levels. With more than 80 participants, this 1-day workshop was very successful. Next to short and interesting introductory presentations, the attendees were encouraged follow the hands-on tutorials during the workshop using Jupyter Notebooks, which run via the Amazon Web Services. This workshop was fully organized and led by myself, more information can be found on the workshop webpage.
Classroom teaching at ETH Zurich
During my Ph.D. at ETH Zurich, I had the opportunity to teach introductory classes in physics and astrophysics to Bachelor undergraduate students.
- Physics I: In this course, students learn the basic aspects of Physics with an emphasis on classical mechanics. It also teaches skills for solving physical problems.
- Astrophysics I: In this introductory course, the students develop knowledge of basic concepts in astrophysics such as the physics of planets, stars, galaxies, and the Universe. This includes the basic concepts of growth of structure in the Universe and the formation of galaxies, the formation of stars and radiative transfer, and the formation of planets through Toomre instabilities.
- Astrophysics II: The course examines various topics in astrophysics with an emphasis on physical processes occurring in an expanding Universe. The students learn about the Robertson-Walker metric, the Friedmann models, the thermal history of the Universe including Big Bang Nucleosynthesis, and introduction to Inflation, and the growth of structure through gravitational instability to the formation of galaxies.
- Astroweek: In this advanced lab course, students learn how to formulate an astronomical research project, write a research proposal, and perform the observations including data analysis. The lab takes place in the Swiss alps (Diavolezza, 3000 meters above sea level) and the students can observe with a variety of telescope at optical and radio wavelengths.