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Our Dusty Universe
Most of the heavy elements that make up the Earth and everything on it (including us) once resided in tiny grains of dust in interstellar space. I will describe the fascinating lives of interstellar dust grains from their formation in fiery supernova explosions to their incorporation into planets like Earth. Although dust is an important player in many processes happening in our Galaxy, it is still very mysterious. I will explain how we are working to understand the properties of interstellar dust both in our Galaxy and others using space telescopes like Spitzer, Herschel and, soon, the James Webb Space Telescope.
I received my Ph.D. in Astronomy & Astrophysics in 2009 from the University of California, Berkeley. I then moved to Heidelberg, Germany as a postdoctoral researcher in the Galaxies and Cosmology Department at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy. In 2011, I was awarded a Marie Curie fellowship from the European Union to continue my postdoctoral work at MPIA. I moved to Steward Observatory at the University of Arizona in 2013 to become the Bok Postdoctoral Fellow. In August 2015, I started as an assistant professor at the University of California, San Diego in the Center for Astrophysics and Space Sciences.