Don Winget, Director - Don received his undergraduate degree in physics from the University of Illinois, and a master's degree and Ph.D. in physics and astronomy from the University of Rocheter. Don is the Harlan J. Smith Centennial Professor of Astronomy and a University Distinguished Teaching Professor. In 1982, during his first year at the Uiversity of Texas, Don predicted and discovered a new class of pulsating variable stars. This was the first time in the 300-year-old field of pulsating variable stars that anyone had predicted a new class of pulsating variable stars before their discovery.
Mike Montgomery, Deputy Director - Mike is a Research Scientist in the Department of Astronomy working on stellar astrophysics. His work focuses on the evolution and pulsation of white dwarf stars, and on laboratory experiments that directly test stellar physics. He received his Ph.D. in astronomy from The University of Texas at Austin, and held postdoctoral positions in Vienna and Cambridge before returning to UT in 2004.
Roberto Mancini, Professor of Physics, University of Nevada, Reno - Atomic and radiation physics of high-energy-density plasmas; Stark-broadened line shapes; radiation transport; x-ray spectroscopy of plasmas; multi-objective spectroscopic data analysis.
Bart Dunlap, Postdoc - Bart Dunlap is a UT Austin postdoctoral fellow working at Sandia National Labs. His work has centered on using white dwarf stars to elucidate broader areas of astrophysics. He has used observations of white dwarf stars to study failed supernovae, phase transitions at extreme temperatures and densities, and remnant exoplanetary systems. He has also been involved in a survey using spectroscopic observations to determine the temperatures and masses of white dwarf stars to inform asteroseismic investigations of their internal structure. He is now using the Z-machine at Sandia National Labs to observe the same plasma conditions seen in the stellar spectra with the goal of ensuring that models of the astronomical observations yield accurate
Zach Vanderbosch, Graduate Student - Zach Vanderbosch is a fourth-year graduate student working with Drs. Don Winget and Mike Montgomery studying the atmospheric properties of pulsating helium atmosphere white dwarfs and the variable star detection capabilities of new all-sky surveys such as the Zwicky Transient Facility. Zach frequently travels to the McDonald Observatory in West Texas to collect data on his objects and to Sandia National Labs in Albuquerque, NM to learn how to design and conduct white dwarf photosphere experiments. Zach earned his B.S. in Physics and Astronomy from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill in 2013, and spent two years coaching rock climbing teams and developing custom diffraction gratings before attending UT Austin for graduate school. Outside of his academic pursuits, Zach continues to be an avid rock climber and traveler.
Patricia Cho, Graduate Student - Patricia (Patty) Cho is a first year graduate student working with Dr. Don Winget and Dr. Mike Montgomery to explore the physics of compact remnant cores of stars known as white dwarfs. She earned her BA in Asian Studies and Applied Linguistics from Williams College in 2010 and returned to academia in 2015 at Columbia University in New York to study astrophysics. In the future, she hopes to push the boundaries of laboratory astrophysics and study matter at the conditions found in neutron star atmospheres.
Daniel Mayes, Graduate Student (UNR) - Daniel Mayes is a senior graduate student working with Dr. Roberto Mancini to investigate atomic kinetics in laboratory photoionized plasmas relevant to astrophysics. He earned his B.S. in Physics in 2011 and his M.S. in Physics in 2014 both from the University of Nevada, Reno. In 2014, he was awarded the Regents' Graduate Scholar Award. In addition, he has recently been invited to give a talk at the upcoming 20th International Conference on Atomic Processes in Plasmas.
Kyle Swanson, Graduate Student (UNR) - Kyle Swanson is a fifth-year graduate student working with Dr. Roberto Mancini to investigate laboratory produced photoionized plasmas. Photoionized plasmas are relevant to astrophysical environments such as active galactic nuclei, x-ray binaries, and accretion powered objects. Kyle earned a dual bachelor’s of science in Physics and Statistical Mathematics from the University of Nevada Reno in 2014.