Over the last few years I have been fortunate to be involved in some amazing outreach opportunities in the Chicago area. Here is a brief summary of what I had been up to along with more information.

Space Explorers

After the end of the Fall quarter 2008, and straight over from Christmas in England, I traveled to the Yerkes Observatory where the Kavli Institute for Cosmology (KICP), was hosting the winter edition of Space Explorers. The Space Explorers Program offers inner-city youth from neighborhoods around the University of Chicago a multi-year science enrichment opportunity. The theme of the retreat that year, was Cosmic Detectives. I showed the students how you can lift footprints off the floors, CSI style!


Together with Prof. Don York, I have supervised Chicago Public Schools (CPS) students, in using large data sets from NASA experiments and the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) to study how elliptical galaxies form and to ‘re-discover’ the expansion of the Universe. In 2010, my students looked at the so-called green valley of galaxies and studied images of galaxy mergers (see the final poster here). In 2011, my group analyzed a number of supernovae to “re-discover” the expansion of the Universe and measured the Hubble constant. Their poster can be seen here.

Adler Astronomy Conversations

Every month I give a highly interactive presentation to the public on current cosmology and astronomy research at the Adler Planetarium. I have given talks at Adler to a wide range of audiences, varying from 3rd grade school groups to adult audiences, at Adler After Dark. In my talk, I focus on the expansion of the Universe and how galaxies are arranged into a cosmic web of large-scale structures. I discuss the evidence for the Big Bang and explain Einstein’s General Relativity. I also talk about colliding black holes, gravitational waves and exploding stars.