University of Florida

College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, Department of Astronomy

M.S. Astronomy | June 2020

Ph.D Astronomy | Expected August 2023

  • Languages & Tools
    • Python, git/github, high performance computing, SQL, HTML
  • Data Analysis
    • Bayesian inference with dynamic nested sampling, data classification and regression with scikit-learn
  • Data Visualization
    • Python (matplotlib, seaborn), animated time-series, geospatial maps, interactive plots for multidimensional datasets, software framework infographics
  • Activities
    • National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergrads 2022 Research Mentor
    • Cosmic Dawn Center IRES 2021 Research Mentor
    • Teaching Assistant

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

College of Engineering, Department of Physics

B.S. Engineering Physics | May 2018

  • Activities
    • Excellence in Physics Undergraduate Research Award, 2017
    • Society of Physics Students President, 2017-2018

Research Experience

  • Advanced Modeling and Data Visualization: Developed a suite of massively-parallel fluid dynamics simulations (Cosmic Sands), improving upon previous resolution limits and model parameterizations. Science results include understanding the formation of the first dusty, massive galaxies in the Universe. Results published: Lower et al. 2023
  • Astro-Focused Machine Learning: Co-developed an open source machine learning method (Mirkwood) to improve upon traditional spectral fitting algorithms, outperforming community standard codes by 50%. Science results include an enhanced ability to measure galaxy physical properties. Results published: Gilda, Lower, & Narayanan, 2021
  • Benchmarking Community Modeling Techniques: Performed 3D ray tracing simulations to generate galaxy spectra and used Bayesian inference to determine the efficacy of models commonly used in the galactic astronomy community. Science results include understanding the impact of model parameterizations on inferred galaxy properties. Results published: Lower et al. 2020, Lower et al. 2022

Teaching, Mentoring, & Outreach

Graduate Research Mentor

UF Department of Astronomy

  • Mentored an advanced undergraduate student as part of the NSF REU 2022 program, developing and implementing a research plan to study properties of simulated galaxies
  • Co-led a series of professional development seminars and weekly research check-ins as part of the 2021 Cosmic Dawn Center IRES program
  • Sought out and offered routine advice and tools across research areas within the UF astronomy department
  • Encouraged wider communication and a culture of collaboration between graduate students in the UF astronomy department by initiating and cultivating discussions about code and analysis issues
  • Led twice-weekly journal club discussions with other graduate students, reviewing current research literature across a variety of sub-fields in astronomy

Graduate Teaching Assistant

UF Department of Astronomy

  • Assisted undergraduate and graduated students with Python projects, including MCMC and Bayesian inference methods
  • Introduced students to coding in a high performance environment, including tutorials on interfacing with SLURM and other cluster tools
  • Gave lectures to non-STEM students covering basics of astronomy with hands-on labs covering telescope basics, spectroscopy, CCD cameras, and cosmology

Graduate Outreach Chair

UF Department of Astronomy

  • During COVID, coordinated with the Florida Museum of Natural History to bring virtual lectures to K-8th grade schools across Florida, as part of the Scientist in Every Florida Classroom program
  • Collaborated with local community and school district leaders to organize in-person astronomy outreach events including Starlab shows and hands-on activities at local elementary schools

First and Second Author Publications

  • Cosmic Sands: The Origin of Dusty, Star-forming Galaxies in the Epoch of Reionization, Sidney Lower, Desika Narayanan, Qi Li, Romeel Davé; 2023, submitted ApJ, arxiv:2212.02636
  • How Well Can We Measure Galaxy Dust Attenuation Curves? The Impact of the Assumed Star-Dust Geometry Model in SED Fitting, Sidney Lower, Desika Narayanan, Joel Leja, Benjamin D. Johnson, Charlie Conroy, Romeel Davé; 2022, ApJ, 93, 14
  • Mirkwood: Fast and Accurate SED Modeling Using Machine Learning, Sankalp Gilda, Sidney Lower, Desika Narayanan; 2021, ApJ, 916, 43
  • How Well Can We Measure the Stellar Mass of a Galaxy? The Impact of the Assumed Star Formation History Model in SED Fitting, Sidney Lower, Desika Narayanan, Joel Leja, Benjamin D. Johnson, Charlie Conroy, Romeel Davé; 2020, ApJ, 904, 33
  • Cosmic Sands II:, Sidney Lower, Desika Narayanan, et al.; in prep, expected publication June 2023
  • Cosmic Sands III:, Sidney Lower, Desika Narayanan, et al.; in prep, expected publication August 2023

Invited Talks

  • Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics “Workshop on The Impact of Dust on Cosmological Inference,” December 2022
  • Cosmic Dawn Center “Cake Talk,” August 2021
  • University of Massachusetts, “Galaxy Lunch,” March 2021
  • CANDELS SED-fitting Group, “Galaxy Evolution with CANDELS,” October 2020
  • University of Arizona, “Galaxy Crawl,” April 2020