This is the unofficial website of the NSF AAPF program, run by the fellows themselves. For official information about the fellowship, please go to the NSF program announcement.
White dwarfs are the slowly fading embers left behind when a star exhausts its fuel supply. Measurements of the masses and temperatures of white dwarfs allow us to study the end stages of stellar evolution, such as how much mass a star loses as a red giant and what mass of star explodes as a supernova instead of forming a white dwarf. I am working on building a large sample of white dwarfs to study in regard to these questions. For something completely different, I also work on studying groups of galaxies at distances of several billion light-years (z~0.2-0.75, for those who speak redshifts), as I look for evidence of how the galaxies in these groups have changed over time.
I run a website called Professor Astronomy in an attempt to describe the exciting daily life of professional scientists and astronomers. I also assist with a yearly continuing education course for science teachers at McDonald Observatory, in which we introduce teachers to research involving white dwarfs using a series of activities closely tied to national science teaching standards. The teachers are encouraged to use these activities with their own students to illustrate basic concepts in physics.