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.
Galaxy formation and evolution is one of the main unsolved problems in modern astrophysics. Massive star clusters are thought to be the building blocks of galaxies, integrally linked to the formation of galactic stellar populations, and potentially the site of intermediate-mass black holes (IMBHs) which represent the seeds for formation of supermassive black holes in galactic centers. The research I am conducting at UCLA seeks to answer two questions: (1) What role does cluster substructure play in the dissolution of massive star clusters and formation of galactic stellar populations? (2) Do intermediate-mass black holes form in dense star clusters? My work involves diffraction-limited observations using adaptive optics on the 10-m Keck telescope and observations from space-based infrared, optical and x-ray telescopes to characterize the substructure and mass segregation of young, massive super star clusters in nearby galaxies.
My educational interests lie in enhancing the scientific literacy of undergraduate non-science majors. I am developing an integrative undergraduate course entitled "Energy in the Universe." The course uses astronomy as context and energy as a unifying theme for investigating the scientific understanding of man's place in the Universe. The astronomical sources of energy will be linked to topics including bioenergetics, power generation and nutrition, with the general goal of preparing students as critical consumers of scientific information in the press.