Our group carries out observational research on galactic nuclei and supermassive black holes. Ongoing projects include direct measurement of masses of black holes in galaxy centers, studies of the physical properties of active galactic nuclei including reverberation mapping (monitoring the time variability of active galactic nuclei to map out their structure on scales of light-days around the black hole), and examination of the relationships between supermassive black holes and their host galaxies. We use data from many facilities including Lick Observatory, Keck Observatory, Las Cumbres Observatory, the Hubble Space Telescope, and the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter array. There are many opportunities for undergraduate participation in various aspects of this work, including measurement of light curves of active galaxies using robotic telescope data.
Student activities will involve data analysis and measurements, with details depending on the nature of the project. Undergraduate researchers will typically participate in group meetings to discuss their work and learn about other research projects in the group.
Recommended coursework for students interested in research in these topics includes Physics 61C, 138, 139, and 145. (These are not prerequisites, but highly recommended either prior to or concurrent with research.) Some programming experience will be extremely helpful.
Time commitment depends on the nature of the research project (summer project, senior thesis research, or other academic-year research). For paid summer research projects, the standard commitment is 40 hours/week for 8-10 weeks.