Patrick J. Vallely

Academic Background

My Ph.D. thesis focused broadly on constraining the origin and explosion characteristics of supernovae, although I worked on a wide range of topics during my graduate studies. I spent the majority of my time studying transients detected by the All-Sky Automated Survey for Supernovae (ASAS-SN), with a special emphasis on those simultaneously observed by NASA's TESS mission. The availiability of high-cadence data from TESS paired with the early ground-based detections from ASAS-SN made these events particularly valuable tools for constraining often-unobserved regimes in transient evolution. Our efforts paid off in a particularly big way with the discovery of ASASSN-19bt, one of the most well-observed tidal disruption events in history, an exciting find that I got to talk about in an interview with NPR.

In addition to working with data from the small telescopes of ASAS-SN and TESS, I also made extensive use of more conventional large ground-based telescopes like the twin 8.2m Large Binocular Telescope at Mount Graham International Observatory. All told, I spent nearly 70 full nights observing with LBT while at Ohio State, coordinating observations for the OSU-led research consortium and leading the program-specific planning and data reduction for nearly all transient-related observations from 2018 through 2022. In recognition of this work as well as my development of data reduction pipelines for TESS imagery, I was awarded the 2021 Allan K. Markowitz Award for excellence in observational astronomy.

I also have experience with numerical astrophysical modeling. During my undergraduate career at the University of Oklahoma I spent several years working with the Supernova Numerical Radiative Transfer Group, where I used the generalized stellar atmospheres code PHOENIX and its simpler cousin SYNOW to calculate model spectra for several flavors of explosive astrophysical transients. In this capacity I calculated model spectra for a number of interesting transients, ranging from the nearby Type Ia supernova SN 2014J to the predicted kilonova emission from a neutron star merger.

Beyond astronomy, I've dabbled in experimental condensed matter physics. At the University of Oklahoma I spent over a year working with the Photovoltaic Materials and Devices Group. My primary contribution was the assembly of a tabletop spectroscopy setup that, last I checked, is still being used to perform electroluminescence and photoluminescence measurements, but I also developed some simple theoretical models to help characterize the internal properties of quantum dot intermediate band solar cells, a primary focus for the research group.

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Conference Posters and Presentations