What is your position or role in the DESI project?
I am a graduate student at the Ohio State University working with Klaus Honscheid and Ashley Ross. I have primarily focused on DESI’s fiber positioner robots which I have a long history with stretching back to my time as an undergraduate at the University of Michigan.
Where were you born? Where do you live now?
I was born in Pontiac, Michigan on the north side of Metro Detroit. A fun fact is that the car company Pontiac (now defunct) is named after the city which in turn was named after Pontiac, a chief of the Ottawa people. I now live in Columbus, Ohio.
What do you do as part of DESI?
I have been working with DESI’s fiber positioner robots since 2016. My work has been a good mix of writing software, running hardware, and thinking a lot about how the robots move, including calibration and individual quirks. When I moved to Ohio State the scale of my work grew and I developed the software interface between the Instrument Control System and the Focal Plane System. Through the commissioning campaign I was hard at work with the rest of the focal plane team in operating the focal plane, addressing operational quirks, and improving the operational efficiency when using the focal plane.
Most recently I have become interested in the creation of the clustering catalogues from DESI data. DESI views the universe in its own unique way, creating a characteristic fingerprint in its data. When trying to extract cosmological information from DESI’s observations it is important to understand and take out effects that arise from DESI’s hardware and observing strategy. This way we can make conclusions on the underlying universe rather than just what DESI saw.
What is the most interesting or exciting thing about your job?
It is exciting to work on such an amazing instrument. DESI’s 5,000 positioner robots are a complex system to work with but they enable us to map galaxies on a scale never done before. Another great feature of DESI is that its size requires a large collaboration of vibrant people to learn from and interact with!
Any advice for an aspiring scientist?
I am still a young scientist myself but learning to ask questions is a skill that I am still developing and wish I had developed earlier. There should be no shame in not knowing something. Also asking a question can dramatically increase the value of reading a paper or listening to a talk.
What do you do for fun?
When I get the time, I love to go hiking; both on day hikes and multi-day hikes. When I do not have time, I go for walks instead. More often though I spend my time reading, enjoying some music, or experimenting in the kitchen.