Dr. Fortson became a member of the School of Physics and Astronomy in 2010. Prior to her appointment to the faculty at the U, she was on the Astronomy Faculty at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago, Illinois for thirteen years, most recently as the Vice President for Research. She was also a Senior Research Associate at the University of Chicago during this time. Dr. Fortson received her PhD in 1991 from UCLA in high energy physics for work she did at the CERN particle accelerator in Geneva, Switzerland probing the existence of high-mass cousins to the top quark. Returning to the United States, she began work at the University of Chicago on cosmic ray and gamma ray astrophysics with the Chicago Air Shower Array. As a post-doc, she led the CASA-BLANCA experiment studying the composition of very high energy galactic cosmic rays. She has been with the VERITAS collaboration since 2000.
|Photo of the VERITAS array at the Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory near Tucson, AZ.|
|S. Criswell, FLWO|
My research interests are in experimental high-energy astrophysics. As a member of the VERITAS (Very Energetic Radiation Imaging Telescope Array System) http://veritas.sao.arizona.edu/, I study gamma rays detected from active galactic nuclei. Gamma-ray astronomy probes the extreme physics of systems such as the black holes at the centers of active galaxies. These systems emit radiation throughout the electromagnetic spectrum and I work to combine the information obtained from telescopes operating at multiple wavelengths to decipher how the active galaxy powers the emission of gamma rays. I am also working on the next generation ground-based gamma ray array, CTA (Cherenkov Telescope Array) http://www.cta-observatory.org/ comprising ~50 telescopes in an array with the aim of greatly improving the angular resolution and sensitivity to high energy gamma ray emission.
|Barred spiral galaxy from the SDSS identified by Galaxy Zoo volunteers.|
I am also a member of the Zooniverse collaboration (http://zooniverse.org) which is a collection of online research projects that require human pattern matching abilities to sort through the millions of images and other data products being generated by telescopes, ocean sensors, satellites and digitized texts. I work particularly with Galaxy Zoo data where over 250,000 members of the general public have provided a highly accurate classification of a million galaxies from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. I am currently using Galaxy Zoo data in conjunction with other multiwavelength catalogs to study questions about the host galaxies and evolution of gamma-ray emitting active galactic nuclei. In addition, I am working with the Minnesota Supercomputing Institute and the department of Classical and Near Eastern Studies on the Zooniverse's Ancient Lives project which asks online volunteers to transcribe ancient greek letters on fragments of tens of thousands of ancient Egyptian papyri from the Oxyrhynchus collection. We are developing computer algorithms that will provide a consensus transcription based on the many transcriptions submitted by the citizen scientists.
Jonathan Dumm, Research Associate
Melanie Galloway, Teaching Assistant
Amit Kapadia, Teaching Assistant
Niklas Karlsson, Research Associate
Tommy Nelson, Research Associate
Marco Perale, Research Collaborator
Miranda Pihlaja Straub, Teaching Assistant
Kyle Willett, Research Associate