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.

Ashley King, PhD '14 | Einstein & Kavli Fellow, Stanford University

PhD Breakthrough: Provided first evidence of a common driving mechanism for black hole winds across the mass scale.

“I was competitive for these fellowships because I had a number of first-author publications and 10 accepted telescope proposals. It showed that I could get time on instruments across the spectrum....”

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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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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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Anne Jaskot, PhD '14 | Teaching & Research Fellow, Smith College

PhD Breakthrough: Identified nearby galaxies that may hold the key to understanding the reionization of the early universe.

“The U-M Astronomy Department trained me in all aspects of what it means to be an independent scientist.”

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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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