Kelle Cruz - Co-Grad Chair, AMNH-CUNY Liason (Hunter College)
Prof. Cruz's research focuses on the observational study of brown dwarfs and very low-mass stars. Brown dwarfs form like stars, but unlike stars, they cool over time have radii, masses, and temperatures similar to giant gas planets like Jupiter. She uses optical and/or near-infrared spectroscopy (0.6–5 microns) on telescopes in Hawaii, Chile, and Arizona to collect data on these objects and uses specialized computer software (e.g., IRAF and IDL) and custom programming to do the analysis. Much of her research concentrates on creating a volume-complete sample of very low-mass stars and brown dwarfs and using that sample to undertake statistically robust studies of their physical properties. She also is currently studying juvenile brown dwarfs, only recently discovered, that have ages likely between 10 and 100 Myr and masses between ~10 and 30 Jupiter masses. Much of her current research efforts are focused on getting more accurate ages for these objects and using them to identify and calibrate age indicators in brown dwarfs.
Saavik Ford - Co-Undergrad Chair (Borough of Manhattan Community College)
Prof. Ford works on Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN)---galaxies which appear to have an accreting black hole and/or significant star formation in their nuclei. Her primary interest is in studying the structures that allow accretion onto black holes and how matter fueling activity arrives in the nucleus. She primarily uses high-contrast, high-resolution imaging, and is also working with a new kind of optical interferometric technique called non-redundant masking.
Sebastien Lepine is a "cartographer of the Galaxy" and devotes much of his research efforts in the search for nearby stars; his goal is to obtain a most complete and accurate map of the stars located within 100 parsecs (300 light-years) of the Sun. His most notable effort is the SUPERBLINK survey, an all-sky survey of stars with large proper motions. The nearby stars are a starting point to a wide range of research topics in astrophysics. Dr. Lepine is particularly interested in the kinematics (motions) of the nearby stars, which are used to infer the structure, dynamics, and history of our Galaxy. He is also an expert in the identification and classification of class of stars (known as "subdwarfs") which roam the Solar Neighborhood at very high speeds, are deficient in chemical elements other than hydrogen and helium, and are believed to be some of the oldest stars in our Galaxy. The nearby stars are also prime targets in the search for extra-solar planets, using both radial velocity surveys, transits (eclipses), and direct imaging techniques. He uses various telescopes located in Arizona, California, Chile, and Hawaii in addition to the Hubble Space Telescope.
Prof. Liu conducts research primarily on colliding galaxies, starburst galaxies, and the star formation history of the universe. He is a co-investigator of COSMOS, an international cosmic evolution survey anchored on the largest contiguous area of sky ever imaged by the Hubble Space Telescope. Using both ground-based and space-based observatories, he studies changes in galaxy populations over the past 10 billion years of cosmic time, and probes how those changes might foreshadow the future evolution of our own Milky Way Galaxy and the universe as a whole. Prof. Liu has also authored and co-authored numerous books and articles presenting astronomy to general audiences, including One Universe: At Home In The Cosmos
(2000, Joseph Henry Press, with Neil Tyson and Robert Irion) and The Handy Astronomy Answer Book
(2008, Visible Ink Press).
Ariyeh Maller - Co-Grad Chair (City Tech)
Prof. Maller's research focuses on the formation and evolution of galaxies. He pursues this through a variety of methods, running hydrodynamical simulations, working with analytic and semi-analytic models, and by analyzing observations in ways more suited for comparison with theoretical model. One of his primary interests is in understanding the gaseous halos of galaxies, which provide the fuel for future star formation. He is also active in studying dust in spiral galaxies, quasar absorption systems and their local analogs, how galaxies get their angular momentum and gravitational lensing by spiral galaxies.
Barry McKernan (Borough of Manhattan Community College)
Prof. McKernan studies the central engine of active galactic nuclei (AGN). He uses X-ray and infrared observations of AGN to constrain models of accretion onto supermassive black holes. He also carries out theoretical studies of fueling of AGN and is interested in MHD simulations of the central engine. He is part of a team applying a new detector technique to space telescopes in order to image details in AGN.
Matthew O'Dowd - Grad Admissions, Astro 101 Coordinator (Lehman College)
Prof. O'Dowd is a researcher in extragalactic astrophysics. His primary interests are in gravitational lensing, quasar physics, and in multi-wavelength observations of galaxies.
Prof. Rice's research combines observational and theoretical approaches for a comprehensive spectroscopic study of cool atmospheres, including very low mass stars, brown dwarfs, and giant extra-solar planets. Prof. Rice uses observational spectra from telescopes in Hawaii and California and synthetic spectra from model atmospheres created with the PHOENIX radiative transfer code. Brown dwarfs and gas giant planets continually cool, shrink, and fade as they age, meaning they are hotter, larger, and brighter when they are younger, resembling very low mass stars. Therefore their atmospheric properties are similar, although the objects are at different evolutionary stages. A comprehensive understanding of these very low mass objects is necessary for understanding star and planetary formation, calibrating stellar and substellar evolution models, and accurately inferring the atmospheric properties of gas giant planets.
Prof. Robbins considers himself more of an educator has taught courses in Physics, Astronomy, Geology, Chemistry, Engineering Science, Space Science and Computer Science. He also enjoys tinkering with research and has established the asteroid research program at the observatory to help the greater community of humanity while teaching research techniques to undergraduate students. He is a principle investigator in a NASA grant that has brought in 1.6 million dollars to CUNY to improve it's Space Science offerings (B.S. in Space Science, minor in Space Science and NASA research opportunities for CUNY faculty).
Timothy Paglione - Chair (York College)
Prof. Paglione's main field is microwave spectroscopy of interstellar molecular clouds. He studies primarily the very largest clouds in galaxies, which form the most massive stars. These stars live furiously, greatly affecting their surroundings with their winds and radiation, then die dramatically in giant explosions that enrich the interstellar medium in heavy elements. Their lives are relatively brief as well ("only" 10 million years or less) so their impact is not only profound but immediate. Certain galaxies known as starbursts create numerous clusters of these massive stars in their centers. Dr. Paglione studies the gas that forms these stars in starbursts and in our own, normal, Milky Way Galaxy, estimating and their physical properties and comparing them with the galaxy dynamics. Not limited only to the radio, Dr. Paglione also studies the gamma-ray emission from starburst galaxies, which originates from their numerous supernovae and a cascade of particle reactions and high energy emission mechanisms.
Shana Tribiano (Borough of Manhattan Community College)
Prof. Tribiano is a cosmologist whose current scientific focus is the time evolution of the large-scale structure of the universe, looking in particular at the clustering of star-forming galaxies compared the galaxy population as a whole. Recently, she has also been examining the history of physics after World War II, including science education and the practical application of astronomy.
Viviana Acquaviva (NYC College of Technology)
Prof. Acquaviva's research focuses on solving complex problems using a mix of analytical and numerical methods. She has published papers on a variety of topics, ranging from the physics of the very early Universe to the nature of dark energy and gravity today, to the evolution of galaxies through cosmic time. Lately, she is developing statistical techniques for predictive modeling, and is using these tools to study the physical properties of distant galaxies.