My research is focused on the goal of detecting and characterizing electromagnetic (EM) counterparts to gravitational wave (GW) events from the Advanced LIGO and VIRGO detectors. This work was primarily focused on the design and optimization of follow-up surveys and understanding the effects of contamination on our ability to detect and identify EM counterparts. Understanding the impact of contamination on follow-up searching is essential to making a confident identification of an EM counterpart. I have also been heavily involved in EM follow-up with the Dark Energy Camera of all four binary black hole mergers announced by aLIGO, notably leading the follow-up efforts and publication of our work on GW151226.
More recently, I was fortunate enough to see this hard work pay off with the discovery of an EM counterpart coincident with the GW event, GW170817. The first joint detection of gravitational waves and light! You can read more about this amazing event at kilonova.org.
Prior to my time at Carnegie and Harvard, I was fortunate enough to participate in a wide range of research projects. As an undergraduate, I worked on a variety of issues, both theoretical and observational related to X-ray observations of AGN and the behavior of their accretion disks. I spent a Summer as a CREST intern at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center working in Dr. John Bakers’ numerical relativity labs producing visualizations of merging binary black hole systems. I also spent a summer as an NSF REU student at Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, working with Drs. Howard Smith, Francesco Massaro, and Raffaele D’Abrusco on NIR photometry and spectroscopy of blazars.