New York Institute of Technology
Research Associate, Department of Astrophysics
I am an assistant professor in Physics at the New York Institute of Technology in Manhattan and a research associate in Astrophysics at AMNH. I study exploding stars, sounds, and brains. I am also a theater producer/director. I create communication workshops and performance events for scientists, using methodologies from theater, comedy, and storytelling.
I am a fan of neutrino emission from core-collapse supernovae (CCSN). A CCSN occurs when a supermassive star explodes catastrophically at the end of its nuclear-fusion-burning lifetime. The event results in 1) the creation of an exotic compact object, and 2) the ejection of the outer shells of the star as a supernova remnant: seeds for new generations, including human beings. I like this problem because it is important for understanding fundamental questions about the Universe’s building blocks and because the problem is a beast. The physics is fiercely nonlinear, as are most formulations that realistically capture natural processes. In addition, the measurements we have are extremely sparse.
Having in hand a poorly constrained model and sparse measurements, my chief research focus is honing an optimization-based inference methodology. Optimization is a means to solve a model given available measurements, where the measurements are assumed to be a manifestation of underlying physical dynamics. Our method differs from the better-known machine-learning paradigm, as it is designed for the case of extremely sparse – rather than plentiful – data. For details, please visit here.
I am co-creator and co-artistic director of Reality Aside Theatre, a 501(c)3 incorporated in New York State. We have produced dark interactive comedy for midtown audiences, as well as toured science-themed sketch comedy to tri-state area schools. My passion is marrying theater and comedy with science.
In summer of 2022, I coached NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) students at AMNH in a science-themed stand-up and sketch performance. This event led to the development of a broader program for AMNH-affiliated astrophysicists interested in enhancing their communication skills – e.g., classroom teaching style, scientific talk delivery, and/or interacting more effectively with an audience. The workshop brings in professional playwrights, stand-up comedians, actors, storytellers, and improvisation artists, to share their expertise. The program is part of a longer-term goal to establish a broad science/theater program at AMNH. My co-conspirators are AMNH Astrophysics curators Ruth Angus and Rebecca Oppenheimer, and AMNH playwright-in-residence, Stephen Laughton.