Meet the Experts

Here are the astrophysicists and image-processing experts who want to share their knowledge and love of astrophotography with Challenge participants! You can read their feedback in the Standout Entries sections of the MicroObservatory Challenge and NASA Data Challenge pages.

Kimberly Kowal Arcand
Kimberly Kowal Arcand

Kimberly Kowal Arcand is the Visualization Lead for NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, which has its headquarters at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Since she always wanted to be an astronaut when she was little, this work gets Kim close to the cosmos but without the long distance commute.

Kim is a leading expert in studying the perception and comprehension of high-energy data visualization across the novice-expert spectrum. As a science data storyteller she combines her background in molecular biology and computer science with her current work in the fields of astronomy and physics.

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Dr. Christopher Britt
Dr. Christopher Britt

Dr. Christopher Britt used multi-wavelength observations from radio to X-ray wavelengths to find and study new neutron stars and black holes. He got his PhD from Louisiana State University and held post-doctoral research appointments at Texas Tech University and Michigan State University. In 2018, Dr. Britt became an Education and Outreach Scientist for the Space Telescope Science Institute, where he works with the Hubble and James Webb Space Telescopes to share cutting-edge astronomical research with the public.

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Dr. Rupali Chandar
Dr. Rupali Chandar

Dr. Rupali Chandar is a professor of astronomy and Associate Chair in the Department of Physics & Astronomy at the University of Toledo. She received her PhD in astrophysics from Johns Hopkins University in 2000, and went on to postdoctoral positions at Space Telescope Science Insititute (STScI) and Carnegie Observatories in Pasadena. Her research focuses on understanding how stars and clusters of stars form and change over time in nearby galaxies like our own Milky Way. She’s been fortunate enough to work extensively with observations taken with the Hubble Space Telescope, which has given us the clearest view yet of nearby galaxies.

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Dr. Rutuparna Das
Dr. Rutuparna Das

Dr. Rutuparna Das is an astrophysicist with NASA's Universe of Learning and the Chandra X-ray Center, spending her time both studying the universe and sharing its wonders with the community. For the last several years, Dr. Das has been exploring observations of galaxy clusters in various wavelengths, especially through optical and X-ray light, and is always on the lookout for new ways to showcase the importance and beauty of multiwavelength astrophysics.

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Dr. Duilia de Mello
Dr. Duilia de Mello

Dr. Duilia de Mello is a Professor in Physics at Catholic University of America. She obtained her PhD from the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil. Her area of expertise is Extragalactic Astronomy and she works with Hubble Space Telescope and giant telescopes like Gemini to study galaxy evolution. As part of the Hubble UV UDF and CANDELS teams she uses Hubble to investigate how disks are assembled. She studies colliding galaxies and their impact in the intergalactic medium. Her latest discoveries include dozens of blue blobs outside colliding galaxies. Dr. de Mello is deeply committed to communicating and popularizing science and to inspiring young women to consider careers in STEM fields.

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Joe DePasquale
Joe DePasquale

Joe DePasquale is the Senior Science Visuals Developer in the Office of Public Outreach at the Space Telescope Science Institute. Prior to joining STScI in March of 2017, Joe was the Science Imager for NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory where he worked for 16 years following his undergraduate training in Astronomy & Astrophysics at Villanova University.

Joe has an extensive background in astronomy, as well as training in art and photography, giving him a unique skill set well-suited to the task of bringing raw observatory data to life in press quality imagery.

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Dr. Giuseppina Fabbiano
Dr. Giuseppina Fabbiano

Dr. Giuseppina Fabbiano is a Senior Astrophysicist at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO), a member of the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian. After completing her studies in Physics at the University of Palermo (Italy), Dr. Fabbiano joined the group that became the major center for X-ray Astronomy worldwide. She was a scientist in the data management teams of the NASA UHURU mission, the first X-ray astronomy satellite, and the HEAO-1/A3 mission.

Today, Dr. Fabbiano is the Head of the Chandra X-ray Center Data Systems Division. She is a leader in the observational studies of populations of X-ray sources in galaxies, the hot interstellar medium, and the interaction between nuclear massive black holes and the host galaxy.

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Dr. Daryl Haggard
Dr. Daryl Haggard

Dr. Daryl Haggard is an Assistant Professor of Physics at McGill University in the McGill Space Institute. She and her team study the Galactic center and Sgr A*, electromagnetic counterparts to gravitational wave sources, accreting compact objects, supermassive black holes and their host galaxies, and multi-wavelength and time domain surveys.

Dr. Haggard has been working with the Chandra X-ray Observatory since the beginning of her research career and looks forward to many more years of discovery with this fantastic NASA space telescope!

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Dr. Quyen Hart
Dr. Quyen Hart

Dr. Quyen Hart is an Education and Outreach Scientist in the Office of Public Outreach at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), where she works on various aspects of NASA’s Universe of Learning and other educational projects related to the HST, JWST, and WFIRST missions. She earned her Ph.D. from the University of Colorado Boulder, where she studied active super-massive black holes in clusters of galaxies. Prior to joining STScI in August 2019, she was an associate professor of physics and astronomy at Regis University, where she taught and mentored students in all different areas of science and technology.

Dr. Hart has been very active in providing unique learning experiences for the public, including running summer STEM camps for underserved and under-represented middle school girls, hosting large public STEM events for over 600 people, and other astronomy-related public observing nights. She is passionate about sharing the wonders of astronomy and science to the general public because she knows that everyone can be a scientist!

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Dr. Robert Hurt
Dr. Robert Hurt

Dr. Robert Hurt is an astronomer and “AstroVizicist” at Caltech/IPAC with a research background in star formation and galaxies. He specializes in data visualization and the development of illustrations and video to communicate science. He has been the imaging lead for for a variety of NASA missions spanning the spectrum of light including the Spitzer Space Telescope, WISE, GALEX, and NuSTAR.

Dr. Hurt also produces science-based illustrations and artwork; his work has recently appeared on the cover of Nature, and his illustrations of exoplanets, black holes, and the Milky Way are widely used by the news and video media.

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Dr. Brandon Lawton
Dr. Brandon Lawton

Dr. Brandon Lawton is an astronomer in the Office of Public Outreach at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI). He got his PhD in astronomy at New Mexico State University in 2008, studying mysterious dust signatures in other galaxies. This was followed by a postdoctoral position at STScI where he used Spitzer Space Telescope data to explore star formation in our neighboring galaxies, the Magellanic Clouds.

Dr. Lawton has been a member of the Office of Public Outreach since 2011 where he works with the Hubble, JWST, and WFIRST outreach and communications teams, as well as with the broader NASA science education community, to deliver accurate cutting-edge science content to students, educators, and the general public.

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Dr. Joel Leja
Dr. Joel Leja

Dr. Joel Leja is a National Science Foundation postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian, where his work focuses on interpreting observations of galaxy assembly. He obtained his Ph.D. from Yale University in 2016 where he studied how to trace galaxies through cosmic time. Currently he is analyzing space-based imaging surveys of galaxies in the high-redshift universe to directly assess when and where galaxies assembled their stars.

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Dr. Charlotte Mason
Dr. Charlotte Mason

Dr. Charlotte Mason is NASA Hubble Fellow at the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian. Charlotte’s research focuses on the evolution of galaxies in the early universe and the impact they have on their surroundings. We observe these distant galaxies in optical and infra-red wavelengths as most of their starlight, originally emitted in the ultra-violet, is very redshifted by the time it reaches Earth. Charlotte has used Hubble to study these galaxies and is excited to be an early user of the upcoming James Webb Space Telescope, which will expand our cosmic horizons by obtaining the deepest images of galaxies in the distant universe.

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Dr. Mark Seibert
Dr. Mark Seibert

Dr. Mark Seibert is an astrophysicist with the Observatories of the Carnegie Institution for Science where he uses ground- and space-based telescopes to study the evolution of stars, gas, and dust in galaxies. He then applies this to derive the distances to galaxies in order to measure the expansion rate of the universe to high precision. Dr. Seibert was a member of the Space Operations and Data Analysis team for NASA's Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX) ultraviolet space telescope.

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Dr. Marja Seidel
Dr. Marja Seidel

Dr. Marja Seidel is a staff scientist at IPAC/Caltech in Pasadena, California. IPAC is a Science Center for Astrophysics partnering with NASA, NSF, JPL and the worldwide research community to advance the exploration of our Universe. Dr. Seidel divides her time between research and outreach. In her research role, she combines observations and numerical simulations to better understand the formation of galaxy disks and the influence of dark matter. In her outreach role, she develops resources for NASA's Universe of Learning.

Apart from being a researcher and science communicator in her job, Marja has also been leading worldwide outreach events and expeditions with Cielo y Tierra and Galileo Mobile.

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Dr. JD Smith
Dr. J.D. Smith

Dr. J.D. Smith is a Professor of Astronomy & Astrophysics at the University of Toledo. He received his PhD in astronomy at Cornell University in 2001, where he helped develop one of the three instruments to fly aboard the Spitzer Space Telescope. After graduate school, Prof. Smith completed postdoctoral work at the University of Arizona, then joined the research faculty at Steward Observatory, before moving to Ohio in 2008. His research focuses on the physical conditions of interstellar material as a tool for understanding galaxy evolution.

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Dr. Sabrina Stierwalt
Dr. Sabrina Stierwalt

Dr. Sabrina Stierwalt is an extragalactic astrophysicist and a Professor of Physics at Occidental College in the heart of Los Angeles. She researches nearby merging galaxies to understand the physics of what happens when galaxies collide, including how stars and galaxies formed throughout the universe's history.

Dr. Stierwalt works to make science and the stars more accessible through her weekly science podcast Everyday Einstein and through a program to bring an inflatable planetarium to communities across Los Angeles that are under-represented in STEM. She also teaches fun classes like Quantum Mechanics and Advanced Electricity & Magnetism.

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Dr. Grant Tremblay
Dr. Grant Tremblay

Dr. Grant Tremblay is an Astrophysicist at the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian. He was previously a NASA Einstein Fellow at Yale University, a Fellow at the European Southern Observatory (ESO), and an Astronomer at ESO's Very Large Telescope in Chile.

Dr. Tremblay's research employs highly multiwavelength techniques, using data from the world's most powerful ground- and space-based observatories to better understand star formation amid energetic feedback from supermassive black holes. He currently serves as the head of the Lynx X-ray Observatory Science Support Office at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, and supports Flight Operations for the Chandra X-ray Observatory as part of the High Resolution Camera Instrument Principal Investigator Team.

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When did this season end?

The season ended on .

We have reviewed all submissions to NASA's Astrophoto Challenges, and have posted standout entries on the MicroObservatory Challenge and NASA Data Challenge pages.

Follow our Twitter or Facebook pages to get updates whenever standout entries are posted.

What about past seasons?

You can still work with NASA data from past Challenges! Head to the Challenges Archive of JS9-4L, where you will find NASA image files among the Archived Images for all of the past seasons.

Want to see what others have done with image data? Check out standout entries from past Challenges on the MicroObservatory Challenge and NASA Data Challenge pages.