Shortly before the first man walked on the Moon,
I was born in New Haven, Connecticut. I was raised
in Maryland after my father obtained a position
Professor of Chemistry at the University of Maryland.
My mother did technical work in biochemistry, so
I got very tired of chemical discussions around
dinner table! As a result, I focused on astronomy
as a suitable non-chemistry career, with help in
that early enthusiasm from (of course) the works
Sagan. My parents were understanding in the matters
of backyard telescopes, searches for dark locations,
and late-night lunar eclipses or meteor watches.
I obtained an undergraduate degree in physics from
the University of Texas at Austin, and went straight
on to graduate work in astronomy, earning my Ph.D.
at the University of Illinois in 1999. Working with
You-Hua Chu over this time, I developed an interest
in supernova remnants, particularly X-ray studies
thereof, and the interstellar medium generally.
I have been studying the puzzling critters ever
since, over a NRC posdoctoral fellowship at NASA/Goddard,
and another at the University of Massachusetts.
I have currently returned to the University of Illinois
as a Research Scientist.
The new era of Great Observatories like Chandra,
Hubble and Spitzer has been a
very exciting time for me. As I largely study supernova
remnants in the nearby
Magellanic Cloud galaxies, I am awed by the wealth
of detail available from
these instruments. By combining the Hubble optical
images with Chandra X-ray
maps and spectroscopy, I have been pursuing the
question of the development of
these objects at late stages - I think of it as
forensic science on the remains
of long-dead stars. Long after a star has exploded,
the shock and material from
that star continues to sweep out an ever-increasing
sphere in the interstellar
medium. I like to remember that almost all of the
heavy elements - including those necessary for life
- are sent out into the interstellar medium by supernova
remnants, to form the next generation of stars and