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David Alves
David Alves

David Alves
Space Telescope Science Institute

I am an observational astronomer and currently a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Space Telescope Science Institute. I work with Howard Bond on the subject of how stars evolve near the ends of their lives. Understanding how stars evolve is important on its own, and for the possibility of using the stars to learn more about the Universe. One example of this is using certain types of stars -- those in a particular stage of evolution -- to measure the distances to other galaxies. Howard and I are both interested in this subject, which is also known as the ``cosmological distance scale.''

My undergaduate (Harvey Mudd College) and graduate school (University of California, Davis) degrees are in physics. While I was in graduate school, I worked at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory on the the MACHO Project, which is a search for a certain type of dark matter (dark matter can be detected by its gravitational effect on normal stars, but is otherwise too dark to observe directly). Even though the work I do is classical astronomy, my background in physics is often very useful. In fact, my interest in the stars can be described as "from the inside out" -- I like to think about the physics happening inside a star, and how we can learn more from what we see on the outside.

I was born, raised, and lived my entire life in California until I started working at STScI. Living and working in Baltimore was quite an adjustment. Fortunately, I met a great girl. Her name is Jennifer Rados. She took this picture of me while we were on vacation in Hawaii.