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New 2015 Graduate Students

New graduate students

Left to right: Christian Flores, Jia Qi, Lucy Jia, ZJ Zhang, Maissa Salama (front), Travis Berger, and Benjamin Boe. Inset: Denise Hung.

Travis Berger grew up in Cary, North Carolina. He received a BS in astrophysics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is particularly interested in exoplanets. His undergraduate research project involved writing a program for using radio astronomy data. He enjoys watching college basketball and playing flag football.

Benjamin Boe grew up in Tacoma, Washington, and received his BS in physics and mathematics from the University of Puget Sound. At UPS he did acoustics research and a Research Experience for Undergraduates project on spiral galaxies. His current research interests include planetary science and solar corona work. In his free time, he enjoys playing guitar and board games, and going for hikes around O‘ahu.

Christian Alejandro Flores Gonzalez grew up in Santiago, Chile, and received his undergraduate degree in astronomy from the University of Chile. At a scientific conference held in Chile, he met IfA astronomer Jonathan Williams, who studies planet formation and protoplanetary disks, the areas Flores is interested in, and he decided to come to IfA for graduate school so he could study with Williams. He enjoys riding motorcycles.

Denise Hung grew up in a suburb of Columbus, Ohio, and received her BS in astronomy and astrophysics there at the Ohio State University. As a part of her undergraduate senior thesis, she worked with measuring the metallicities of galaxies based on optical and far-infrared spectroscopy of their regions of ionized hydrogen gas. Her current main research interest is small bodies of the solar system, particularly near-Earth objects. She enjoys experimenting with video and image editing software.

Siyao (Lucy) Jia  grew up in the city of Xi’an in northwest China and majored in astrophysics at Peking University. She is particularly interested in star clusters, especially nuclear star clusters (NSC), and is also interested in astronomical instrumentation. Her undergraduate research projects included studying star cluster evolution in the galaxy NGC 6951 and how the migration of globular star clusters form NSC. She enjoys cooking.

Jia Qi grew up in Tangshan, a city in northern China. After high school, he came to the United States and obtained a BA in physics and mathematics from Wabash College in Indiana. Currently, his main interest in astronomy is computational astrophysics, especially modeling galaxies and large-scale structures. Before coming to IfA, his research projects included modeling gravitational waves and hypervelocity stars. He is a big fan of computer games, soccer, sci-fi books, and art history.

Of French and Egyptian descent, Maissa Salama grew up in the San Francisco Bay area and majored in astrophysics at the University of California, Berkeley. As a member of the Gemini Planet Imager (GPI) Exoplanet Survey team, she worked on astrometry and orbit-fitting calculations. She is particularly interested in exoplanets and adaptive optics. When not working, she likes to travel, spend time with friends and family, and go swimming.

Zhoujian (ZJ) Zhang grew up in Shandong Province, China, and majored in astronomy at Nanjing University. His astronomical interests include the formation and evolution of galaxies, active galactic nuclei, brown dwarfs, and planetary science. Before coming to IfA, he studied the X-ray afterglow of gamma-ray bursts, analyzed the photometry and spectroscopy of a galaxy cluster and a supernovae remnant, and studied the distribution of quasars on the galaxy main sequence. He enjoys singing, reading books, and playing chess.