Interview with Tassos Fragos

Q: Can you describe your research goals?

The goal of my research is to further our understanding of the connection between stellar and binary evolution, as well as the formation and evolution of galaxies.

Q: How much interaction do you have with other divisions within the CfA?

I have been trying to go to talks in other divisions when possible, especially the radio division. My research is really complementary to most of the observational projects they are interested in at the SMA, so it has been instructive to chat with them and hear their opinion on different subjects.

Q: How have the facilities and personnel resources at the CfA furthered your research project?

Being a computational astrophysicist, the most important research tool for me is computational resources. CfA and the Institute for Theory and Computation offered me the availability of the computing infrastructure to support large scale computational projects, along with a strong team of supporting personnel that made sure I had never had to deal with technical issues not directly related to my own research.

Q: What advice would you provide for a first-year CfA Fellow?

CfA is a big place, with a vast number of great scientists in almost any field located right next to your office. A first-year CfA fellow should make sure to interact with as many people as possible. The most important advantage to a CfA fellow is the people around him. So one should make sure to get to know them.

Q: How much independence do you have with a CfA Postdoctoral Fellowship?

Coming to CfA, I had a solid research plan, based on the research proposal of my application. During my first year at the CfA, I realized that although one has to have a primary long-term research plan - being at such a stimulating place like the CfA always - generates ideas about new and exciting projects. Being a CfA fellow allows me to be open to new ideas and collaborations, and all the necessary means to pursue them.

Q: How has your particular research area evolved since you have arrived at the CfA?

I came to CfA bringing my own ideas about new projects. During my first year, I realized that it is more fun to combine your knowledge and ideas with someone else, and pursue a project that none of the two could do separately. So my initial focus on binary stellar evolution broadened, targeting new questions related to the interplay between binary evolution and compact object formation, as well as the formation and evolution of the hosting galaxies.

Q: What is a typical day like for you?

My day at the office always starts with a cup of coffee while simultaneously answering emails and browsing through the new astro-ph papers. I usually spend the rest of the day either programing and analyzing simulation data or trying to write a paper. CfA is a big and vibrant place, with several interesting talks and events everyday. Inevitably you have to pick and choose, but even then, I always end up attending at least one talk per day!

Q: How much interaction do you have with other divisions within the CfA?

Although I officially belong to the Theory Division, my research interests and collaborators are equally split between Theory and the High Energy Division. Unfortunately, my interaction with the rest of the CfA is limited to attending some of their seminars that are of particular interest.

Q: How would you describe the community at the CfA in terms of social activity?

Coming from a smaller and family-like group, I was worried that CfA would be impersonal. Fortunately, I was wrong. I managed to very quickly find company to do two of my favorite things, play basketball and have coffee chatting about random things. The community at the CfA organizes all kinds of social events, encouraging the newcomers to meet and mingle with the rest.

Q: What type of position would you like to have upon completion of your fellowship?

The goal of almost every postdoc is to eventually transition to a tenure track research or faculty position. I will be optimistic and say that after the completion of my fellowship, I would like to make this transition.


Clay Fellow Warren Brown