Barger joins Notre Dame on prestigious NSF postdoctoral fellowship

Author: Shelly Goethals


Dr. Kathleen Barger has joined Notre Dame’s Department of Physics on a prestigious National Science Foundation (NSF) Astronomy and Astrophysics Postdoctoral Fellowship. A recent Ph.D. graduate of the University of Wisconsin’s Department of Astronomy, Dr. Barger will explore the role gas in and around galaxies plays in galaxy evolution in collaboration with Professors Nicolas Lehner and J. Christopher Howk. 

Dr. Barger’s Ph.D. thesis focused on observational studies of gas in the environment of the Milky Way and its nearest neighbors in an effort to assess how such gas affects the on-going evolution of galaxies. She made use of the Wisconsin H-alpha Mapper (WHAM), an NSF-funded observatory currently located in northern Chile, to map the otherwise-invisible gas in the Milky Way’s halo and in the outskirts of the nearby Large and Small Magellanic Clouds. At Notre Dame, she will continue her work with WHAM while collaborating with Notre Dame astrophysicists Lehner and Howk to combine WHAM data with Hubble Space Telescope observations to understand the gaseous environments of the Magellanic Clouds, the nearest galaxies to our own, and to use Notre Dame’s Large Binocular Telescope to study more distant galaxies.

The prestigious three-year NSF Astronomy and Astrophysics Postdoctoral Fellowship is awarded annually to six or seven recent Ph.D. scientists, allowing them to conduct research and advance the educational environment at an institution of their choosing. The award funds Dr. Barger’s stipend and provides an annual budget to pursue her research and educational initiatives.