NRAO Summer Student: 2002, Green Bank
NRAO Mentor: Jim Braatz
NRAO Project: "The Green Bank OH Megamaser Survey"
Ph.D., Astronomy and Space Sciences, Cornell University
M.S., Astronomy and Space Sciences, Cornell University
B.S., Physics, West Virginia University
I have always been interested in studying the far reaches of the Universe. Outer space represents the extremes of our physical world: the largest galaxies, the largest telescopes, the smallest molecules, and the most precise timing instruments abound in the world of astrophysics. This is an exciting time to be in such a diverse and challenging scientific field. I was fortunate to be an NRAO summer student with Jim Braatz, using the newly commissioned Green Bank Telescope (GBT) to study OH emission in external galaxies.
Our goal was to examine galaxies detected in the infrared and survey for the OH emission with with the new L-band receiver on the GBT. The project was extremely successful, cataloging six previously undetected OH megamasers in external galaxies. The combination of exciting science, cutting edge technology, and modern computing made radio astronomy a subject I wanted to study further.
After my summer experience at NRAO, I attended Cornell University, receiving my Ph.D. in 2008. For graduate research in collaboration with many other scientists around the world, I used the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico and its new multibeam L-band (1420 MHz) receiver to survey neutral hydrogen in galaxies. My interest in computer programming led me to write some of the data analysis and visualization software for the survey. With the large amount of data being generated by astronomical surveys, astronomers have started the development of the Virtual Astronomical Observatory (VAO), a resource that I use in my research. The VAO aims to connect the network of various services and research databases astronomers use with common data descriptions and protocols.
After graduate school, I was awarded a Jansky Postdoctoral Fellowship to continue my research in radio astronomy in Charlottesville, Virginia, home to the NRAO headquarters and the new North American ALMA Science Center. With recent technology developments for Arecibo, the Green Bank telescope, the Expanded Very Large Array, and the Atacama Large Millimeter Array, radio astronomy will continue to play a crucial role with pioneering discoveries in astrophysics, and I am excited to be a part of it.
Visit my web page to see some of the exciting science I'm involved with: http://www.cv.nrao.edu/~bkent/