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Travis Rector

Travis Rector

Travis Rector is a postdoctoral research assistant at the National Optical Astronomy Observatories (NOAO) in Tucson, Arizona. He has been at NOAO since 1998. Dr. Rector's primary scientific interest is in the area of "blazars," the most luminous class of active galaxies known. Because blazars are luminous at all wavelengths, he uses many different types telescopes to study them. He is the editor of The Blazar Times, a monthly electronic newsletter which publishes the latest results in blazar research. In addition to his research, he is the outreach astronomer for NOAO and helps run the Research Based Science Education program, a NSF-funded teacher-enhancement program that gets secondary-level teachers and their students to participate in real research projects ongoing at Kitt Peak.

Travis grew up in Colorado and spent much of his childhood in the mountains. His interest in astronomy began when he and his mother would camp in the summer, especially in August to watch the Pleiades meteor showers. "Colorado summer nights in the mountains were wonderful. The skies were so clear and so full of stars we felt like we were floating in space," he recalls. As a child he loved science, especially astronomy and chemistry. And in high school he started to learn about what it takes to be an astronomer. "I liked astronomy but had no idea how you did it, so I talked with a professor at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. He recommended that I get a Bachelors degree in physics and then study astrophysics in graduate school."

While earning a Bachelors degree in physics from Trinity University in San Antonio he worked with Dr. David Hough on his first astronomy research project, a study of quasars with very long baseline interferometry techniques. After working as an intern at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Tucson, Arizona, he went on to graduate school at the University of Colorado in Boulder to obtain a PhD in astrophysics. His thesis consisted of a multiwavelength study of BL Lac objects in collaboration with his advisor, Dr. John Stocke.

Aside from astronomy, running is the most important activity in his life. "Running keeps me sane," he remarked. Dr. Rector's hobbies also include astrophotography, cycling and travel.