Texas A&M University

Institutional contact: Louis Strigari (strigari@tamu.edu

Texas A&M represents a unique opportunity for LSSTC Catalyst Fellows: a very large, diverse university in the growing area of central Texas.  Catalyst fellows at Texas A&M would benefit from both a vibrant astronomical research atmosphere and outstanding expertise in data science and statistics. We have 10 tenured/tenure-track Astronomy faculty, including the recent hire of Justin Spilker who will start in January 2022. The faculty have significant expertise and active research programs in most of the topics covered by LSSTC science collaborations: Galaxies (Kennicutt, Papovich, Spilker); Stars, Milky Way and Local Volume (DePoy, Marshall, Strigari), Dark Energy (Suntzeff, Wang); Active Galactic Nuclei (Walsh), Transients/Variable Stars (Macri, Wang), Gravitational lensing (Spilker).  Our group has strong collaborations with members of the statistics department in a wide variety of topics: black hole masses, galaxy evolution, variable stars (as tracers of MW halo structure and extragalactic distance indicators), and supernovae as cosmological probes. All faculty, postdocs and students work in the Mitchell Institute, designed to promote scientific interaction within all members of the astronomy and high energy physics groups. 

Facilitated by the addition of Rob Kennicutt, the astronomy group has hired 8 new postdocs within the past three years, with broad interests overlapping with those of the faculty. The postdocs, along with the faculty and about 20 graduate students, have developed a close-knit atmosphere; over the past decade over a dozen postdocs have gone on to successful careers in academia and industry. Postdocs are actively mentored by faculty members through an organized program in which they rotate through a new faculty career mentor (in addition to their premiere scientific mentor) each semester. Postdocs actively participate in research group meetings and weekly events aimed at promoting community growth (weekly seminar, tea, and astro-ph coffee). Postdocs are encouraged to work closely with our senior graduate students to develop their mentoring ability. If so desired, they are offered classroom teaching opportunities to diversify their portfolio prior to applying for faculty jobs. 

Web link with further information: https://physics.tamu.edu/research/astronomy/

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