Astronomy and Astrophysics

Jennifer L.B. Anderson (UMN Physics, Astrophysics, and Geophysics BS)

Professor of Geoscience, Winona State University

Picture of Jennifer L.B. Anderson

Jennifer has always been interested in teaching science and wanted to help teach future science teachers even as a high schooler. At the U, she studied astrophysics and physics. She soon added geophysics as a third major after taking a geology course.

“As an astrophysics major, I took Physics my first year at the U and I absolutely fell in love with it – Physics seemed a perfect way to look at and investigate our natural world.  I loved the mathematics involved and the simplicity of things like gravity. ”

Jennifer attended Brown University for a PhD in geosciences. While there, she started her research with NASA to understand the processes of impact crater formation through experiments. She is now a professor at Winona State University, where she teaches geoscience, education, and general education majors.

“I will never tire of seeing the world through the beauty of physics.  Physics allows me to look at our solar system and planet in a very interdisciplinary way, combining ideas from astronomy and geology, physics and chemistry together to see our Earth as one unique planetary system among many.  I love teaching my geoscience students, my education majors, and anyone who will listen to me about the incredible beauty of our Universe.”

Paul Edmon (UMN Astrophysics PhD)

Research Computing Associate, Harvard Institute for Theory and Computation, Cambridge MA

Paul Edmon

Paul loved space and stars; he wanted to be an astronaut. He discovered a knack and love for physics in high school and knew that you needed a PhD to be an astronaut, so he went off to the University of Washington to study physics.

As an undergraduate Paul joined a research group detecting cosmic rays. In graduate school at the U he continued to study cosmic rays, now studying their origins and developing numerical simulations of their acceleration mechanisms. Part of this research was carried out using supercomputers that are part of the U's Minnesota Supercomputing Institute.

"I found that I really enjoyed using the largest machines in the world to simulate the largest explosions in the universe which accelerate the fastest particles we know of."

After working as a postdoc at the University of Manitoba, Paul is now running a supercomputing cluster at the Harvard/Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) helping researchers with their computing jobs. His background in astrophysics helps him understand what researchers need.

"While day to day I don't do astronomy anymore, the knowledge I gained during my PhD has allowed me to think at multiple scales, and to understand what the astronomers at CfA are trying to accomplish."

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Mark Madland (UMN Astrophysics BS)

Manufacturing Process Engineer at Medtronic

Mark Madland

Mark always liked to figure out how things worked. Enjoying all sciences, an outstanding senior year high school physics experience led him to an astrophysics major in college.

"A technical foundation in physics and ability to comprehend complex problems allowed me to get a job that wasn't asking specifically for a physicist."

As an engineer making medical devices, Mark gets to determine and improve upon how they are made. He also uses data gathering and critical thinking to get at root causes of manufacturing issues and to improve the processes.

"The projects I work on are sometimes like my undergraduate physics laboratory classes. Hypothesize, experiment, report. Almost every day I use skills I learned in school such as how to take, analyze and report data."