Alumni Profiles

What kinds of next steps are taken by students who complete their PhDs at Michigan Astronomy? We've asked some recent alumni to describe their research and share their perspectives on how the department helped them prepare.

For a more comprehensive list of recent alumni, please see our Alumni page in the People section.

Matt Walker, PhD '07 | Faculty,  Carnegie Mellon University

PhD Breakthrough: Used Professor Mateo’s custom fiber spectrograph to challenge models’ predictions of centrally concentrated dark matter.

“By the end of my time at Michigan, I could walk into a conference and know I had the world’s best data set for the galaxies we looked at — ultimately that’s why I was attractive on the job market.”

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Catherine Espaillat, PhD '09 | Faculty,  Boston University

PhD Breakthrough: The first to identify “pre-transitional” circumstellar disks, providing evidence for dust clearing due to planet formation.

“At Michigan, I honed the skills [I’ll need to] get grant money and support myself professionally.”

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John Tobin, PhD '11 | Hubble Fellow, NRAO

PhD Breakthrough: Challenged conventional thinking about the shape and motion of gas clouds around protostars.

“U-M prepared me for the future because I was trained in so many observational methods... I know I’m prepared to take advantage of next-generation facilities.”

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Ming Zhao, PhD '09 | Postdoc, Penn State

PhD Breakthrough: Used Professor Monnier’s Michigan Infrared Combiner at CHARA to push the limits of interferometry, and became the first to resolve an interacting binary and several rapidly rotating stars.

“One of the reasons I came to U-M is because it has top experts in interferometry.”

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