I am a PhD candidate in the Astrophysics program at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, researching dusty star-forming galaxies (DSFGs) with Dr. Andrew Baker. For my undergraduate degree, I attended The University of Texas at Brownsville (now University of Texas- Rio Grande Valley) where I worked with Dr. Fredrick Jenet on the detection of gravitational waves using pulsars.

My current research involves the study of a sample of dusty star-forming galaxies (DSFGs) detected with the Atacama Cosmology Telescope in a 470 degree2 survey. Over the past couple of years, we have observed these DSFGs with various telescopes, including the Green Bank Telescope (GBT), Northern Extended Millimeter Array (NOEMA), the Very Large Array (VLA), the Combined Array for Research in Millimeter Astronomy (CARMA; no longer operating), and the Submillimeter Array (SMA). These telescopes allow us to study the physical properties of these DSFGs, primarily by observing carbon monoxide (CO) lines. DSFGs have very high star-formation rates (up to 1000s of solar masses/year!) and our targets in particular are expected to be strongly gravitationally lensed. As a result, the investigation of our high-z sample can provide valuable insights in the study of the cosmic star formation history of the Universe.

Refereed Publications:

  • "The Atacama Cosmology Telescope: CO(J = 3 - 2) mapping and lens modeling of an ACT-selected dusty star-forming galaxy" J. Rivera, A. J. Baker, P. A. Gallardo, M. Gralla, A. I. Harris, K. M. Huffenberger, J. P. Hughes, C. R. Keeton, C. H. Lopez-Caraballo, T. A. Marriage, B. Partridge, J. Sievers, A. S. Tagore, F. Walter, A. Weiss, E. J. Wollack, 2018, Astrophysical Journal, submitted ( arXiv:1807.08895 )
  • “Resolved Molecular Gas and Star Formation Properties of the Strongly Lensed Galaxy SDSS J0901+1814” Sharon, C. E., Tagore, A. S., Baker, A. J., Rivera, J., Keeton, C. R. II, Tacconi, L. J., Lutz, D., Wilner, D. J., Shapley, A E., Lin, H., Diehl, H. T., Allam, S. S., & Tucker, D. L. 2018, Astrophysical Journal, submitted
  • "Multiwavelength Characterization of an ACT-selected, Lensed Dusty Star-forming Galaxy at z = 2.64" Roberts-Borsani, G. W., Jiménez-Donaire, M. J., Daprà, M., Alatalo, K., Aretxaga, I., Álvarez-Márquez, J., Baker, A. J., Fujimoto, S., Gallardo, P. A., Gralla, M., Hilton, M., Hughes, J. P., Jiménez, C., Laporte, N., Marriage, T. A., Nati, F., Rivera, J., Sievers, A., Weiß, A., Wilson, G. W., Wollack, E. J., Yun, M. S, 2017, ApJ, 844, 110
  • “On the redshift distribution and physical properties of DSFGs from ACT” Su, T., Marriage, T. A., Asboth, V., Baker, A. J., Bond, J. R., Crichton, D., Devlin, M. J., Dünner, R., Frayer, D. T., Gralla, M. B., Hall, K., Halpern, M., Harris, A. I., Hilton, M., Hincks, A. D., Hughes, J. P., Niemack, M. D., Page, L. A., Partridge, B., Rivera, J., Sievers, J. L., Thornton, R. J., & Wollack, E. J., 2017, MNRAS, 464, 968
  • “Apparent Faster-Than-Light Propagation in Interstellar Space: A New Probe of the Interstellar Medium” Jenet, F. A., Fleckenstein, D., Ford, A., Garcia, A., Miller, R., Rivera, J., & Stovall, K., 2010, ApJ, 710, 1718–1723

Professional Interests:

In my spare time, I like to do outreach actvities. For the past few years, along with some other graduate students, I have conducted physics demos at Camden Street Elementary School in Newark, NJ. The corresponding picture shows me demonstrating what happens when you put balloons inflated with ambient air into a really cold container of liquid nitrogen (hint: the air molecules stop bouncing around inside the balloon and the balloon loses volume!). I've also served on graduate student panels at Rutgers for the Aresty and McNair programs to answer questions from undergraduate and high school students who want to know more about research and graduate school. Lastly, I am a member of the AAS Astronomy Ambassadors cohort, a network of young professionals who are interested in outreach and have undergone training to effectively communicate astronomy topics to the general public.

This past year I also dedicated time to organizing the STEM Community Outreach Symposium at Rutgers (STEMcosR), a graduate student organized symposium for Rutgers researchers to present their work (50+ posters) to over 200+ community college and high school students from the local community. If you'd like to learn more about the annual event please visit the STEMcosR website .

I'm also interested in science policy, and in the spring of 2017, I participated in the Congressional Visits Day sponsored by the American Astronomical Society (picture taken during the CVD and credit to Sen. Shaheen's office). The experience taught me how easy, but extremely important, it is to engage with our senators and representatives because they can only know about the needs of the scientific community if we tell them. You can read more about my experience in the testimonial I wrote "Important Lessons from Congressional Visits Day".

About me:

My research has given me the opportunity to travel to several telescope sites, and I welcome the chance to visit and use more of them! I mean, who doesn't like the idea of exploring the world and the cosmos at the same time? This suits my photography hobby well as telescopes are located in dark places at high elevation, which affords an unpolluted view of the sky. Below are some pictures from several of the telescopes I've had the privilege to visit in addition to a few other pictures I've been able to take during my ventures. In my spare time I enjoy playing guitar, playing soccer, cycling (Rutgers Cycling Club; extra shout-out to cyclocross fans), and running.



  • If you would like to know even more about me, here is my Curriculum Vitae (CV).
  • If you would like to reach me, feel free to email at jrivera*at*
  • I can also be found in my office at Rutgers in Serin in room 332.