Eric Gawiser

Distinguished Professor in the Department of Physics & Astronomy at Rutgers University
office: 303 Serin Physics Building (West Wing)
phone (848)445-8874
fax (732)445-4343
Research interests: Observational cosmology, Galaxy formation.

I served as Analysis Coordinator of the Vera C. Rubin Observatory Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST) Dark Energy Science Collaboration (DESC) from 2021-2023. We will measure the gravitational lensing and clustering of billions of galaxies to probe dark energy, modified gravity, dark matter, neutrino masses, and the inflationary potential starting in 2024. I am also a member of the LSST Galaxies science collaboration, CANDELS, UVCANDELS, and the Simons Observatory.

ODIN (the One-hundred-square-degree DECam Imaging in Narrowbands, PI Soo Lee at Purdue) is a NOIRLab Survey program in which I serve as Co-PI. We built three custom narrrow-band filters and have been assigned 83 nights on the CTIO 4m telescope from 2021-23 to discover over 100,000 Lyman Alpha Emitting (LAE) galaxies at z=2.4, 3.1, and 4.5, corresponding to 1.4, 2.1, and 2.8 billion years after the Big Bang. Overdensities in the LAE distribution identify galaxy protoclusters, which are the most massive structures in the early universe.

The Hobby-Eberly Telescope Dark Energy Experiment (HETDEX) will discover 1,000,000 Lyman Alpha Emitting (LAE) galaxies from 2018-2023 and is using them to test the concordance cosmological model of general relativity plus a cosmological constant and cold dark matter. The HETDEX LAE sample will also revolutionize our understanding of galaxy formation via an order of magnitude improvement in precision measurements of the clustering of distant galaxies. I joined HETDEX in 2009.

The LADUMA survey is being performed on the South African SKA precursor radio interferometer, MeerKAT. I serve on the Coordinating Council for LADUMA.

From 2003-2016, I served as PI of MUSYC, which is a square degree UBVRIzJHK survey plus satellite coverage from Chandra, XMM, HST-ACS, and Spitzer-IRAC+MIPS and spectroscopic follow-up using Magellan, Gemini, and VLT. Our deep images of the high-redshift universe reveal Lyman Alpha Emitters, Lyman Break Galaxies, Active Galactic Nuclei, Distant Red Galaxies and Damped Lyman alpha Absorbers, which represent families of galaxies selected in different ways. Measuring the star formation rates, stellar masses, ages and dark matter masses of these galaxies determines the extent to which the different types overlap and whether they constitute an evolutionary sequence fundamental to the process of galaxy formation. MUSYC has published 60 refereed papers, including several major advances in the study of galaxy formation and evolution. I led the discovery that Lyman Alpha Emitters represent progenitors of present-day L* galaxies, observed during an early starburst phase when they had low stellar mass, no measurable dust, and very high specific star formation rates.

From 2011-2013, I chaired the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO) Users Committee; the UC is always open to feedback from members of the community.

I taught Physics 110: Astronomy and Cosmology (Stars, Galaxies and the Universe) in Fall 2021, Fall 2020, Fall 2010, Fall 2009, Spring 2008, and Fall 2007. In Spring 2021, I introduced Physics 346: Observational Astrophysics, a new project-based course for astrophysics majors co-developed with Prof. Andrew Baker. In Fall 2019 and Fall 2016, I taught Physics 689: Graduate Seminar on Astrophysical Data Analysis. Previously, I was the instructor for Interdisciplinary Honors Seminars 293: The Science of Science Fiction in Spring 2016, Physics 610: Graduate Interstellar Matter in Fall 2015, Physics 608: Graduate Cosmology in Spring 2019, Spring 2017, Spring 2015 and Spring 2009, Physics 341: Principles of Astrophysics (I) and Physics 342: Principles of Astrophysics (II) during 2011-2014 and Spring 2020, and Physics 689: Graduate Seminar on Galaxy Formation in Fall 2009.

I have also worked on the Extragalactic Atlas of the Digital Universe project at the Hayden Planetarium, where I served as a Hayden Associate from 2007-2011.

My research group at Rutgers includes undergraduates Barbara Benda, Rameen Farooq, Shreya Karthikeyan, and George Kharchilava and graduate students Adam Broussard, Nicole Firestone, Irene Moskowitz, and Charlotte Olsen. Former group members and their current institutions are:
Prof. Viviana Acquaviva (postdoctoral fellow at Rutgers, now Professor at CUNY NYC College of Technology)
Dr. Peter Kurczynski (research scientist at Rutgers, now Chief Scientist of the Cosmic Origins Program at NASA)
Dr. Nicholas Bond (postdoctoral fellow at Rutgers, now at Goddard Space Flight Center)
Dr. Humna Awan (Ph.D. from Rutgers, now a Leinweber Center for Theoretical Physics Postdoctoral Fellow at U. Michigan) Dr. Kartheik Iyer (Ph.D. from Rutgers, now a Dunlap Postdoctoral Fellow at U. Toronto) Dr. Alejandra Muñoz Arancibia (Ph.D. from U. Catolica/Rutgers, now a postdoctoral researcher at U. Valparaiso)
Dr. Michael Berry (Ph.D. from Rutgers, now a data scientist at Amazon)
Dr. Lucia Guaita (Ph.D. from U. Catolica/Rutgers, now Assistant Professor at U. Andres Bello in Chile)
Dr. Harold Francke (Ph.D. from U. Chile/Yale, now on the Scientific Staff at ALMA)
Jean Walker-Soler (M.S. from Rutgers, now in the private sector)
Elisabeth Turner (B.S. with Honors from Rutgers, now a graduate student at Tufts)
Crysal Burgos (Simons-NSBP summer student 2021, now a graduate student at Ohio State)
Lana Eid (B.S. with Honors from Rutgers, now a graduate student at Rutgers)
Juliette Stecenko (B.S. from Rutgers, now a graduate student at U. Connecticut)
Nakul Gangolli (B.S. with Honors from Rutgers, now a graduate student at U.C. Riverside)
Holly Christenson (REU student 2015, now a graduate student at U.C. Riverside)
Jiaoyue Yuan (B.S. with Honors from Rutgers, now a graduate student at U.C. Santa Barbara)
Andrew Leung (B.S. with Honors from Rutgers, now a graduate student at U.Texas Austin)
Hannah Bish (B.S. with Honors from Rutgers, now a graduate student at U. Washington)
Chris Carroll (B.S. from Rutgers, now a graduate student at Dartmouth)
Carlos Vargas (B.S. with Honors from Rutgers, then an NSF Graduate Fellow at New Mexico State, now an Assistant Professor at U. Arizona)
Gray Kanarek (B.S. with Honors from Rutgers, Ph.D. from Columbia, now at STScI)

You are welcome to look at PDF versions of my CV, Bio, and publications (or check ArXiv or ADS).

From 2002-2006, I was an NSF Astronomy & Astrophysics Postdoctoral Fellow in the Yale Center for Astronomy & Astrophysics. From 2002-2004, I was also an Andes Prize Fellow, which is a joint appointment at the Departamento de Astronomia of Universidad de Chile and the Astronomy Department at Yale University.

I wrote a public IDL code called observable that calculates the airmass, parallactic angle, and atmospheric differential refraction for use in planning imaging and multislit spectroscopy.

From 1999-2002, I was a postdoctoral research physicist at the Center for Astrophysics and Space Sciences at the University of California at San Diego. My research at U.C. San Diego involved an empirical study of galaxy formation in collaboration with Art Wolfe, Jason Prochaska, and Jeff Cooke. We performed multislit observations with the Keck telescope to find Lyman-break galaxies near known Damped Lyman-alpha Absorption Systems. This allowed us to study the emission properties of the DLAs as well as whether they cluster with emission-selected high-redshift galaxies. Our results were published in ApJ. Looking for help reducing Keck LRIS(B) or ESI data? Check out my data reduction cookbooks.

Click here for a compilation of all reported CMB anisotropy detections and upper limits from 1992-2000, or here for more info on UCSD's Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation Discussion Group.

I received my doctorate in theoretical cosmology from U.C. Berkeley in May 1999. My dissertation with Professor Joseph Silk, Big Bang Leftovers in the Microwave: Cosmology with the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation, is available here. Joe Silk and I also wrote a review article on the Cosmic Microwave Background radiation.

I led the WOMBAT project to estimate the Galactic and extragalactic foreground contribution to microwave anisotropy. Extragalactic foregrounds will significantly affect the MAP and Planck satellites, balloon-borne experiments such as MAXIMA and BOOMERANG, and interferometers including VSA, CBI, and DASI because of their high resolution.

I lectured Astronomy 10 at U.C. Berkeley during Summer 1999.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant. Nos. AST-0201667, AST-0807570 and CAREER Award AST-1055919. Any opinions, findings and conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.