I am a 6th year graduate student (expected graduation: Spring 2014) working with Professor Edo Berger
at Harvard University. I am interested in all explosions in the sky, but am most dedicated to uncovering the progenitors of the elusive class of short gamma-ray bursts
(GRBs). For my thesis, I have taken a two-pronged approach in understanding this question:
- Observations of short GRB host galaxies: Using ground-based and Hubble Space Telescope observations, I study the local and galactic environments of short GRBs. In particular, I have studied host galaxy type demographics and the locations of short GRBs within their hosts. Through these studies, I have found several lines of evidence pointing to a compact object merger progenitor involving two neutron stars, or a neutron star and a black hole.
- Multi-wavelength afterglow observations: The spectral and temporal behavior of GRB afterglows provide the only route to constraining the bursts' basic properties: the kinetic energy scales, circumburst densities and jet opening angles. The latter parameter is of interest for estimating the true event rate of short GRBs. Since short GRB afterglows are faint (~23 mag at 10 hr after the burst), following the detection of a short GRB by NASA's Swift satellite, I am responsible for initiating observations as quickly as possible using our multi-wavelength Target-of-Opportunity programs (XMM-Newton, Chandra, Magellan, MMT, Gemini-North and South, and the VLA).