Look into the DNA of Galaxies, With Caltech Grad, Carnegie Observatories Astrophysicist

Published : Sunday, November 17, 2019 | 6:29 AM

Much like organisms, galaxies too can be said to have their own “chemical DNA” which when analyzed can be very telling about not just their own character, but their history and that of the Universe itself.

Astrophysicist Allison L. Strom, a Carnegie-Princeton fellow at the Carnegie Observatories in Pasadena, will explore this concept next Wednesday in a lecture at Pasadena City College at 6:30 p.m.

Dr. Strom will speak about how each of the billions of galaxies in the Universe has developed its own unique traits over complex lifetimes. Until recently, astronomers have only been able to study galaxies closest to the Milky Way in any detail, leaving much of the Universe’s history a mystery.

Dr. Strom will show how astronomers are now using the world’s largest telescopes to determine the chemical DNA of even very distant galaxies, and how this information is answering key questions about how galaxies like our own formed and evolved.

Strom obtained her Ph.D. in Astrophysics from Caltech in 2017, her Master’s of Philosophy from Cambridge in 2011, and her BS in Physics from the University of Arizona in 2010.

Her research focuses on analyzing the rest-optical spectra of high-redshift star-forming galaxies and what can be learned about their massive stellar populations and the conditions in their HII regions. She is also interested in the overlap between extragalactic observational science and theoretical predictions, not only of galaxy formation and evolution, but also concerning stellar evolution.

In addition to research, Dr. Strom also seeks to promote equity and inclusion in the scientific community. As Vice-Chair of Caltech’s Graduate Student Council from 2016 to 2017, she organized a campus-wide Student-Faculty Colloquium designed to address issues related to campus climate, secured administrative and financial support for affinity groups, and served as a liaison between the Title IX office and student groups.

As a new Caltech alumna, Dr. Strom has advocated for enhanced support for graduate alumni, especially through mentorship opportunities for underrepresented STEM professionals, including women of all ethnicities, racial minorities, and LGBTQ persons.

The lecture is the last scheduled Carnegie @PCC lecture of the year. Organized by the PCC Division of Natural Sciences, Carnegie @PCC features a series of public lectures on current astronomical topics, by astronomers from the Carnegie Observatories. Lectures are free and open to the general public.

All Carnegie @PCC lectures are from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Creveling Lounge at PCC’s campus at 1570 E. Colorado Blvd.

Since space is limited, all interested attendees are advised to obtain free tickets by visiting www.eventbrite.com/e/carnegie-at-pccthe-dna-of-galaxies-tickets-71756065323.

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