Dr. Michele Kaufman's main research interests
are spiral structure, the nature of interstellar
gas, the factors governing star formation on a galactic
scale, and the effects of tidal forces during close
encounters between galaxies. To trace what the stars
and the various components of the interstellar gas
are doing, she analyzes digitized images of nearby
spiral galaxies taken in the radio continuum and
in the 21-cm line of atomic hydrogen with the Very
Large Array, in broad-band optical and near-infrared
emission, in optical emission lines, and in CO emission
from molecular gas. By comparing the relative locations
of various spiral tracers, she has shown that there
are at least two types of spiral-arm morphologies
in grand-design spiral galaxies, and that most of
the difference arises from a difference in the surface
density of interstellar gas.
Dr. Kaufman received her Ph.D. in astronomy from
Harvard University under the guidance of David Layzer,
and did her undergraduate work at Radcliffe College.
Presently she supervises and teaches introductory
physics courses at Ohio State University. She previously
taught physics at Brown University, Notre Dame,
SUNY at Stony Brook, and Swarthmore College, and
did research at NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center.
She grew up in Tiverton, RI, a suburb of Fall River,
MA (famous for the Lizzie Borden murder case).