Current Research

I am an observational astronomer researching high redshift (z > 1) dusty star forming galaxies (DSFGs) with Caitlin Casey and her DSFG research group. I'm investigating the role that major mergers and galaxy interactions play in the formation of DSFGs. I'm also trying to link mid- and far-IR SED curve shapes to DSFG properties.

Contact Info

Department of Astronomy
The University of Texas at Austin
2515 Speedway Blvd Stop C1400
Austin, TX 78712, USA

pdrew [at] utexas [dot] edu

DSFG Group

I am a member of Caitlin Casey's dusty star forming galaxy research group. Although DSFGs are some of the brightest galaxies in the universe they were not discovered until recently because they can be mostly or completely dust-obscurred at optical wavelengths. To find them, one needs to look at infrared and sub-mm wavelengths.

About Me

Music has always been a big part of my life. I've played instruments since I was 10. My favorite activity is learning. Sometimes I take photos.

I have a B.A. in political science, and a B.S. in astronomy, both from UMass Amherst. After I graduated with my degree in political science I worked for Brigham and Women's Hospital for 2.5 years doing clinical research of pharmaceuticals before I went back to school for astronomy.

Previous Research

Although I work on dusty star forming galaxies now, I've researched a range of different projects in the past. At UMass I worked with grad student, Mike Petersen, to map circumstellar disk masses in the star forming region IC348.

I worked with Dr. Grant Wilson to translate the data reduction pipeline from IDL to Python for the AzTEC bolometer array. We also used CUDA C++ to investigate which routines in the data reduction pipeline should be handled by GPUs and which should be handled by CPUs.

Also at UMass, I worked with Smith College teaching and research fellow, Anne Jaskot, undergrad, Dylan Pare, and grad student, Mike Petersen, to try and establish whether ionizing radiation is capable of escaping "Green Pea" star forming galaxies, with a goal of determining whether they could be studied as low-z analogues of high-z reionizers.

At Maria Mitchell Observatory I worked with Drs. Vladimir Strelnitski and Howard Smith under Dr. Michael West to determine the age of the only star known to host hydrogen recombination line lasing and masing. I won the Chambliss Astronomy Achievement Award for my poster presentation of this topic at AAS 227.


Hosting public observing nights is one of my favorite things to do. I was the director of the Orchard Hill Observatory at UMass Amherst for two years. With help from the other astronomy club officers I ran weekly public observing nights at our 16" Cassegrain.

While I was an REU student at Maria Mitchell I helped run public observing nights three times a week and gave tours of the observatory and facilities during the day.

I continue to use the skills I developed while I studied political science to help make the world a better place. I serve as a mentor for our TAURUS students.