Publications: ADS | arXiv
I study the chemical composition of some of the oldest known (aka. most "metal-poor") stars in the Milky Way to build toward an understanding of the processes that formed the first heavy elements in the universe. Since the most metal-poor stars are rare, a decent portion of my thesis is dedicated to refining and implementing techniques to identify these stars. As mentioned, these stars provide us with a unique view into the chemical composition of the early universe (~13 billion years ago).
For my recent projects, I have been applying these techniques to search for the oldest stars in the dwarf galaxies orbiting the Milky Way. Some of these dwarf systems are thought to be "fossil" galaxies from the early universe, which makes their stars particularly intriguing targets. I use time on the SkyMapper telescope to pre-select stars, and then perform follow-up spectroscopy on the Magellan telescopes to study their chemical composition.