What is your position on DESI? I am a junior scientist in the DESI collaboration and part of the Milky Way Survey group. My current role is to produce software that will help calibrate the spectra that DESI collects by using stellar remnants known as “white dwarfs.”
Where were you born? I was born in a town called Sidcup in the United Kingdom.
Where do you live now? I currently live in Coventry in the United Kingdom, and work at the University of Warwick (which is in Coventry, not Warwick!).
What do you in your position on DESI? I work with the Milky Way Survey and the Data team to use white dwarfs (the cores of dead stars once they finish fusing Hydrogen and Helium) to help calibrate the spectra that will be obtained by DESI. These white dwarfs have relatively simple spectra, which make them great calibrators. This involves writing a lot of code and analyzing simulated DESI observations to ensure we have the best calibration possible!
What excites/interests you most about DESI? Doing research in astronomy has given me the ability to travel to amazing places to collect data, such as the island of La Palma in the Canary islands, or Kitt Peak to observe at the Mayall telescope. My research interests are mostly involved with white dwarf planetary systems. It is thought that up to half of all of these stellar remnants will still host planets, and we can use these systems to learn about the composition of asteroids and comets from other planetary systems. With the help of DESI, we will find more of these systems, and answer questions such as: What will happen to the solar system when the Sun runs out of fuel? Are the rocky bodies in our solar system standard or unusual?
I think one of the most interesting parts of DESI is the focal plane, with over 5000 fiber robots that will be automatically repositioning themselves while avoiding each other to allow us as observers to efficiently observe millions of sources in the night sky.
What do you for fun? I enjoy playing a lot of games: Video games, board games, Dungeons and Dragons! I also like to play Go (you may have heard of AlphaGo), practice in power-lifting, and have recently started using “perler” beads to make pixel art!