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
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