SWS: Dr. Saeqa Dil Vrtilek, Astrophysicist (SAO)

Dr. Vrtilek has an undergraduate degree in Physics from MIT, a MA in Physics from Brandeis University, and MPhil and DPhil degrees in Astrophysics from Columbia University.

She has been awarded a Marie Curie Fellowship by the American Association of University Women and a Science Fellowship by the Radcliffe Bunting Institute. In 2010 she was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Her areas of interest include the physics of accretion disks and jets, multi wavelength studies of X-ray binaries and planetary nebulae, science education, and public outreach. Dr. Vrtilek has authored or co-authored over 100 articles in professional journals. She is co-editor of the book "The High Energy Universe at Sharp Focus". She has taught as a visiting professor at the University of Maryland, Harvard University, and Northeastern University.

"I have always enjoyed things related to science. I liked to take things apart and find out how they work (I was always the one fixing radios, vacuum cleaners and sewing machines around our house). Math has also always been my favorite subject in school.

My primary work is research. Most of my research has been trying to understand a certain class of objects known as X-ray binaries. Binary means it is a star system with two stars going around each other. Unlike our Sun which emits most of its energy in visible light, X-ray binaries emit most of their energy in X-rays. I try to study these objects by looking at all their forms of radiation, including visible and X-ray. I have used the Hubble Space Telescope several times, as well as many other satellites and several ground-based observatories.

When not at work, I enjoy spending time with my family. I have a daughter who turned 19 in 2011 and my husband is also an Astrophysicist (we met at the Center for Astrophysics). We both enjoy backpacking and canoeing. I like to read nature and travel books, biographies, and science fiction. In 2003, while in Australia for the IAU General Assembly, my husband and I obtained our scuba diving licences! We have been to the reefs near San Diego, Puerto Rico, and on the Great Barrier Reef."

Additional Information

Dr. Vrtilek with the largest "glass" she has ever used: the 8.2m Gemini South Telescope located on Cerro Pachon in the Chilean Andes. Image


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