What is your position or role in the DESI project?
I am a senior scientist at Fermilab. I am responsible for a program called “PlateMaker” that is part of the instrument control system.
Where were you born?
I was born in the town of West Orange, New Jersey, where Thomas Edison had his laboratory and built the first movie studio.
Where do you live now?
I live in the town of Geneva, Illinois, close to Fermilab. It is a scenic town with many shops, restaurants, bike trails, and an authentic Dutch windmill.
What do you do as part of DESI? The PlateMaker program maps the positions of galaxies on the sky to the DESI focal plane and tells the fiber positioners where to move. Because the DESI corrector introduces a large amount of distortion, the mapping
requires understanding the corrector properties to high accuracy. While the corrector was being fabricated, I was part of the optics team, evaluating the impact of things like glass homogeneity and polishing errors on our eventual ability to accurately position the fibers.
What is the most interesting or exciting thing about DESI? You never know where your work will lead you. In order to model distortion patterns in the corrector, I developed some new mathematical techniques that turned out to be similar to those used to analyze the microwave background polarization and gravity waves. I wrote this up as a journal paper, and it is the second paper to be published by the DESI collaboration.
What do you do for fun?
I enjoy hiking, “peak-bagging,” and other outdoor activities. I also spent time trying to predict the location of where Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 disappeared (not yet found).