[PAST EVENT] The Missing Metal Conundrum: Defining the Early Enrichment Population: Anne Blackwell '19

November 12, 2021
4:10pm - 5:30pm
Small Hall, Room 110
300 Ukrop Way
Williamsburg, VA 23185Map this location
Access & Features
  • Open to the public

It’s not unusual for physics, math, computer science, or even engineering undergraduate students to apply for astronomy graduate school. Anne Blackwell '19 knew she wanted to do astronomy as a physics undergraduate student, so she tried to get as much hands-on experience as possible. While at William & Mary, Anne was a member of the Astronomy Club all 4 years and co-President for 3. After her sophomore year, Anne did a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) at BYU, then another at The Maria Mitchell Association after her junior year - the latter of which turned into her undergraduate thesis. Anne is currently a third year PhD candidate in the Astronomy & Astrophysics department at the University of Michigan working with Dr. Joel Bregman to answer the key question, “Where did the metals in the Universe come from?” Metallicity measurements in the hot, X-ray emitting halo of galaxy clusters (the largest structures in the Universe) are 4-8 times higher than the metallicity predicted from their stellar populations. Determining the source of the excess metals, and obtaining observable/testable quantities of a theorized metal source is a significant focus of Anne's work and lecture. Anne will also highlight other unanswered questions in astronomy involving a variety of topics such as: planet formation, disk chemistry, stellar evolution, instrumentation improvements, and black hole spins.

Anne Blackwell is a third year graduate student in Astronomy & Astrophysics at the University of Michigan. She works with Dr. Joel Bregman using X-rays to study galaxy groups and clusters; specifically, the metal content of galaxy groups and clusters. In addition to research Anne is part of outreach organizations such as Astronomy on Tap, FEMMES and is a planetarium operator at the University of Michigan Natural History Museum. Recently she developed an activity for middle schoolers to learn about light pollution with the Michigan Dark Sky’s group which is being adopted by public libraries all over Michigan. She has been part of a Smithsonian Air & Space Museum panel for the Chandra X-ray Observatory, and given public talks at Astronomy on Tap and the Michigan Warren Astronomical Society. In 2019, she graduated cum laude from William & Mary with a degree in Physics.