What is your role in the DESI project?
I am the lead on a key science goal of DESI, the selection of the biggest Bright Galaxy Sample (BGS) to date which aims to measure the positions to 20 000 000 galaxies over 14 000 square degrees with a median redshift of z ∼ 0.2. I’m also in charge of providing the Survey Validation BGS targets. I’m an active member of the BGS and target selection working groups.
My main work involves the construction of the BGS target catalogue for DESI and for this I use the Legacy Surveys Imaging data. Efficient target selection is central to achieving the scientific goals of BGS. I implemented a new way to do star-galaxy classification exploiting a combination of GAIA’s compact point spread function (PSF) and model magnitudes from the Legacy Surveys (LS) pipeline TRACTOR. My work also involves the assessment of the target catalogue using other datasets such as SDSS and GAMA galaxies, as well as mock galaxy data like the MXXL light-cone catalogue. My work also focuses on galaxy clustering analysis and mitigation of systematics.
Where were you born? Where do you live now?
I was born and raised in Colima, Mexico, a beautiful Mexican state with two volcanoes and nice beaches. Since 2017, I live in the beautiful city of Durham, UK. Famous for its almost 1000 years old Cathedral, and for being the filming place of some of the Harry Potter movies.
What would you say is the most interesting or exciting thing about DESI?
I guess the most exciting thing is the opportunity to unveil the mysteries of our Universe with one of the most ambitious surveys of the time as DESI is. But, beyond that astonishing thing, is the fact that there’s no recipe for many things, and so you have the opportunity to be the first in creating this new knowledge. For instance, building the BGS target catalogue, I have to come up with new ways to identify spurious objects or fake galaxies. For this effort, besides the data analysis I normally do, I found some motivation to dip into web development and create an interactive webpage to carry visual inspection of the Legacy Surveys Imaging.
Any advice for aspiring scientists?
Quoting Coldplay, “nobody says it was easy…” but hey, you definitely will enjoy the road, especially when you do what you like. Don’t be afraid to be wrong or to not know things, as Richard Feynman used to say “I have approximate answers and possible beliefs, different degrees of certainty about different things but I am not absolutely sure of anything, and in many things, I do not know anything about it …”
Finally, what do you do for fun?
I occasionally do outdoor games and sports. I like to play table tennis and someday I would like to practice some real tennis. I like coding for fun and to learn new programming tools. I am a bit of a foodie person, so I like to try new dishes and also like to cook occasionally. But the thing I do enjoy the most is playing with my son.
Anything else you’d like to share ?
Yes. Thank you, DESI! Thanks to this collaboration I’ve learned plenty of things and meet wonderful people on the road. The experience I’ve gained with DESI opens many doors in my career, and that’s something I will always be grateful for.