IGERT Graduate Student – cohort 5
Advisor: Emily Levesque
Kathryn is a graduate student in the astronomy department studying massive stars with Emily Levesque. In particular, she looks at Red Supergiants (some of the largest stars in the universe) and their binarity. The binary fraction of massive stars is unknown but plays a large role in stellar evolution and she’s trying to help set the record straight.
She’s doing this by creating a database of synthetic spectra and comparing it with observed red supergiant binary systems. Using these two sets of data she can determine what types of binary systems might be out there that can’t be observed spectroscopically because of, for example, brightness limits. These “unobservable” systems would thus bias any search for red supergiant binary systems making the binary fraction appear to be lower than it really is.
Kathryn began her astronomy education at Wellesley College where she graduated in 2010 with a joint degree in astronomy and computer science. She then went to George Washington University to get her computer science masters degree with an emphasis on cyber security in 2012. She worked in an industry setting for a few years before deciding to come back to astronomy.
She went to Northern Arizona University to get her masters in physics in 2017 and then finally arrived at the University of Washington in the fall of 2017. During this time she continued working with her astronomy undergrad summer research adviser at Lowell Observatory publishing papers and presenting at conferences on massive stars.