James Gillanders – postdoctoral fellow

My main research activity is focussed on modelling the observed electromagnetic spectra of explosive transients. Specifically, I have undertaken detailed studies of both AT2018kzr (the merger between a white dwarf and either a neutron star or stellar mass black hole) and the kilonova AT2017gfo (the merger between two neutron stars). I am particularly interested in exploring the source of the rapid neutron capture process (r-process), which is responsible for synthesising roughly half of all elements heavier than iron. For this reason, AT2017gfo is of particular interest to me, since it has been directly linked with the production of r-process material. Future research areas of interest include exploring the viability of other r-process production sites, to determine whether kilonovae are responsible for synthesising some, or all, of the r-process material we observe in the Universe. Also, I look forward to expanding my analysis of future kilonova events to include multi-messenger information (e.g. gamma rays, gravitational waves), to more fully understand the merger properties.

Yuhan Yang – postdoctoral fellow

The main research field I am interested in is high-energy astrophysics, including gamma-ray bursts (GRBs), fast radio bursts (FRBs), soft gamma-ray repeaters (SGRs), pulsar wind nebulae (PWNe), gravitational wave sources and their electromagnetic counterparts. At the China University of Geosciences in Wuhan, I earned a Bachelor of Science in Physics. I continued to Nanjing University to complete my Master’s in astrophysics and my PhD in astronomy. In resent years, I looked into the physical mechanisms underlying FRBs, X-ray bursts from SGRs, and unique GRBs. After learning the data processing techniques of GBM and LAT onboard Fermi, I developed a web application named “Interactive High Energy Astronomical Data Analysis Pipeline“.

Brendan O’Connor – graduate student

I am a PhD student in the Department of Physics at The George Washington University. I am interested in the formation and evolution of high energy transients and their progenitors. I am currently involved in research to constrain the environments of short gamma-ray bursts and their host galaxies through both theoretical and observational methods as a way to set limits on the intrinsic natal kick and time delay distribution of binary neutron star systems. Future work will involve follow-up of the electromagnetic counterparts to gravitational waves from binary neutron star mergers (e.g. short gamma-ray bursts and kilonovae). In addition, I am a member of the Swift Deep Galactic Plane Survey (DGPS) (PI: Chryssa Kouveliotou) which is conducting a systematic survey of the Galactic Plane to search for X-ray transients from a variety of sources including LMXBs, HMXBs, CVs, and Magnetars.


Simone Dichiara – research professor at Penn State University

My research activity is focused on the study of a peculiar class of astrophysical sources related to the most energetic and violent phenomena occurring in the Universe. I’m mainly interested in multi-wavelength observations of gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) and the search of the electromagnetic counterparts of gravitational wave. These signals are originated from the final explosion at the end of very massive stars’s life and from the merger of compact objects as neutron stars or black holes.
After a master thesis in the University of Bologna focused on the study of instrumental selection effects, I earned my PhD in astrophysics in the University of Ferrara. During this period I was mainly involved in the study of timing properties of GRBs and their connection with the progenitor and the emission mechanism. I have experience in data reduction and analysis of optical, X-rays and gamma-rays data. As a member of the HAWC collaboration (High Altitude Water Cherenkov observatory) I’m also involved in the study of transient phenomena at very high energies.