I am a Distinguished University Professor and Chair of the Department of Astronomy at the Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. I am also a member of Ohio State's Center for Cosmology and AstroParticle Physics. I am an observationally oriented theorist and work mainly on large scale structure, galaxy formation, the intergalactic medium, and observational probes of the matter and energy content and initial conditions of the universe.
I have been on the faculty at Ohio State since January, 1995. Prior to that, I was an undergraduate at Yale University, a graduate student at Princeton University, a postdoc at Cambridge University, and U.C. Berkeley, and a long term member at the Institute for Advanced Study. For details, see my curriculum vitae.
For astronomers, the best summary of my research is the list and brief description of my most cited publications. You can find a link to all of my scientific publications here. I will try to write up a short description of my work that is more accessible to non-astronomers, but the most recent one I have is too long out of date. One of my most satisfying professional roles is to be an advisor and mentor for graduate students and postdocs.
A lot of my research involves the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS). I joined the SDSS in 1992, when I was a postdoc at the IAS, where I worked on creating simulated data, devising the galaxy target selection algorithms, survey strategy and software, and proposal writing. I became one of the project's first External Participants when I moved to Ohio State in 1995, and I served as the first SDSS Scientific Publications Coordinator. Ohio State became an institutional member of the SDSS in 2005, and I was elected the Collaboration Spokesperson for SDSS-II (2005-2008), a program that completed the original goals of the SDSS and carried out additional surveys of distant supernovae and the Milky Way galaxy. The SDSS galaxy survey has been the main target for my work on interpretation of galaxy clustering, and some of my work on galaxy formation has also been aimed at SDSS data. In 2007 I also became the Project Scientist for SDSS-III, a six-year program of four surveys that is using the SDSS facilities to investigate new scientific areas. A large fraction of my research effort is devoted either directly to SDSS-III or to theoretical studies aimed at the interpretation of SDSS-III data. SDSS-III has now completed its observations and its final data release (SDSS DR12, January 2015), though some of the most interesting analyses of SDSS-III data are still in process. SDSS-IV began observations in 2014 and will continue through the end of the decade. All phases of the SDSS are summarized at the SDSS website.
Since 2004, I have collaborated with MacArthur Award winning artist Josiah McElheny on the design of cosmologically inspired sculptures, which have appeared in museums and gallery exhibitions in Columbus, New York, Chicago, Rochester, Seattle, Phoenix, and London. You can find some images, a description of the projects, and links to other accounts of the sculptures and our collaboration here. The most recent project that Josiah and I completed involved fiber plugplates from the SDSS (and, by circuitous routes, the communist revolutionary Auguste Blanqui and the author Jorge Luis Borges).
I was also a science consultant for the film Dark Matter, an independent film written by Billy Shebar and Chen Shi-Zheng and starring Liu Ye, Aidan Quinn, and Meryl Streep. And you can look here for some of my less serious treatments of cosmology and astrophysics, the most infamous of which is The Dark Matter Rap.
Updated: 2019 March 30