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Panelist Biographies

Ezequiel Treister

Ezequiel Treister

Dr. Ezequiel Treister is currently an Einstein fellow working at the Institute for Astronomy of the University of Hawai’i. He received a Ph. D. in Astronomy from the Universidad de Chile in 2005 and will soon join the faculty of the Department of Astronomy at the Universidad de Concepción in Chile as an associate professor. He started studying the growth of supermassive black holes as part of his Ph. D. thesis under the supervision of Prof. Meg Urry at Yale University. Together with Prof. Urry, Dr. Treister developed the most advanced models to explain the nature of the extragalactic X-ray background. After obtaining his Ph. D., he moved to the European Southern Observatory in Chile, where he worked until 2008 as a postdoctoral fellow with duties on the Very Large Telescope at Cerro Paranal.

Dr. Treister's research interests include the formation of the first black holes and the connection between black hole growth and galaxy evolution. He works mostly in large multiwavelength surveys, in particular using X-ray data from the Chandra observatory and performing follow-up observations with the large telescopes located in the north of Chile and the Mauna Kea summit in Hawai’i. Dr. Treister is a member of scientific team for the NuSTAR hard X-ray mission and participated in the science design for the International X-ray Observatory.


Kevin Schawinski

Kevin Schawinski

Kevin Schawinski grew up in Switzerland and Germany. He received his D.Phil from Oxford University and stayed on briefly as the Henry Skynner Fellow at Balliol College. He moved to Yale University in 2008 and started his Einstein Fellowship in 2009.

Kevin works on the role that black holes play in the formation and evolution of galaxies. What is the correlation between black hole growth and evolutionary phases of galaxies? Which galaxies feed their black holes? And are black hole accretion phases associated with, and perhaps causing a change in the evolutionary trajectory of galaxies? And what is the origin of supermassive black holes in the very early Universe?

Kevin uses stellar populations to reconstruct the star formation histories of galaxies to infer the sequence of events surrounding black hole accretion events. He also co-founded and continues to be heavily involved in Galaxy Zoo, a citizen science project involving over 400,000 members of the public in scientific research that has now branched out into fields as diverse as climate change and finding extrasolar planets.


Priyamvada Natarajan

Priyamvada Natarajan

Priyamvada (Priya) Natarajan is an Indian-American theoretical astrophysicist and cosmologist. She is a professor with a joint appointment in the Departments of Astronomy and Physics at Yale University. Priya has undergraduate degrees in Mathematics and Physics from M.I.T. and a PhD from the Institute of Astronomy at the University of Cambridge, where she was a member and later elected a fellow of Trinity College. Recipient of many awards and honors including a Radcliffe Fellowship (2008), a Guggenheim Fellowship (2009), the India Abroad Face of the Future Award (2010), an NRI Empire Award (2011), Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society (2008), Fellow of the American Physical Society (2010), she also currently holds the Sophie and Tycho Brahe Professorship at the Dark Cosmology Center, Niels Bohr Institute at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark. Deeply invested in the public dissemination of science, a fervent proponent of numerical literacy, she is also a published poet.

Priya has worked on a wide range of problems in cosmology, and her research is focused primarily on exotica in the Universe - dark matter, dark energy and black holes. She is noted for her key contributions to two of the most challenging problems in cosmology: mapping the distribution of dark matter and tracing the assembly and accretion history of black holes. Her work using gravitational lensing has provided a deeper understanding of the granularity of dark matter in clusters of galaxies and offers a novel way to unravel the nature of dark matter and dark energy. Her recent work on a new channel to form massive black hole seeds in the early Universe is seen as a major creative and original contribution to the field.


Mitch Begelman

Mitch Begelman

Mitchell Begelman is a Professor and Chair of the Department of Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder and a Fellow of JILA, a joint institute of the University of Colorado and the National Institute of Standards and Technology. He received A.B. and A.M. degrees in physics from Harvard in 1974, and a Ph.D. in astrophysics from the University of Cambridge in 1978. He works on a wide range of topics in theoretical astrophysics, with emphasis on high-energy astrophysics, the interactions of black holes with their environments, active galaxies, galaxy formation and evolution, and the intergalactic medium.In addition to numerous research papers, he is the author of two books aimed at general audiences: */Gravity's Fatal Attraction: Black Holes in the Universe/* (with Martin Rees) and */Turn Right at Orion: Travels through the Cosmos./*Begelman's research and writing have been recognized by a number of awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Sloan Research Fellowship, the American Astronomical Society Warner Prize, and the American Institute of Physics Science Writing Award.


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