Rob Morgan is a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is a rare object hunter (astrophysically speaking). When events such as a gravitational wave detection by LIGO, or a high energy neutrino detection by IceCube happen, Rob works on finding the source of those events in optical light captured by DES images. He builds automated machine learning algorithms to immediately detect these rare and scientifically-interesting objects. He has also recently started looking for gravitationally-lensed astronomical explosions (e.g. supernovae), another rare event.
We asked Rob a few questions. Here’s what he had to say:
What is your favorite part about being a scientist?
Working as part of a team with researchers around the world.
What is your favorite book, movie, and/or TV show?
Favorite movie: No question, it has to be “Space Jam”.
What do you think has been the most exciting advance in science / technology in the last 10 years?
The growing use of artificial intelligence and machine learning to make discoveries and push the scale of scientific analyses larger than has ever been done before. In astronomy, we have used these approaches to classify millions of objects, detect new astrophysical explosions, and gain insight about all the sources of light across the universe that we are lucky enough to spot in our telescopes.
Any advice for aspiring scientists?
If you are creative, resourceful, and not afraid to try something new and fail, you can quickly become an expert in anything you put your mind to.
Any other fun fact about yourself?
I am co-holder of the DES record for most push-ups in an observing shift, and I think the world needs to know that.