Michael McElwain

Postdoctoral Researcher in Astrophysical Sciences

my hp picture

Office: Peyton Hall 127, EQuad D229

Phone: 609.258.0754, 609.258.8449

Email: mcelwain AT astro.princeton.edu

Recent News:

December 2009 - As part of the Subaru SEEDS commissioning with my colleagues at MPIA Heidelberg and NAOJ, we discovered a planet-like companion around a nearby Sun-like star. The Princeton press release describes the significance of GJ 758 B. The result attracted world-wide attention, and it was even named one of the Top 10 Scientific Discoveries of 2009 by TIME magazine.

January 2009 - I started a short-term Mirzayan Science and Technology Fellowship with the Board on Physics and Astronomy (BPA) at The National Academies in Washington, DC. I am working with the BPA and Space Studies Board staff on the Astro2010 Decadal Survey that will make scientific recommendations and identify the activity prioritizations for the entire field of astronomy and astrophysics.

January 2008 - NAOJ User's Meeting in Mitaka, Japan. I got to meet ~75 new collaborators, witness the mayhem of the Tsukiji fish market, and eat fugu (blowfish) without dying from the neurotoxins.

September 2007 - I joined the club of academic elites by successfully defending my PhD thesis at UCLA. Afterwards, some friends and I made a cross country road trip to Princeton. On the way, we visited several national parks and other friends.

November 2006 - Lance Armstrong and I (and another 38,000 people) ran the New York City Marathon. We both agree that the marathon was the most difficult physical competition we've experienced.

June 2006 - I spent two weeks in China studying international trade and public policy at the USTC. We traveled to Beijing, Xi'an, Hefei and Shanghai to meet with academics, politicians, businessmen, and culinary experts. On the way home, I visited a college friend who has been working in Tokyo.


Recent Talks:

High Contrast Imaging with Adaptive Optics and Integral Field Spectroscopy

Princeton TPF Collaboration with the NAOJ

Keck/OSIRIS NGS AO Observing for Users

First High-Contrast Science with an IFS: the Sub-Stellar Companion to GQ Lup

A Systematic Search and Characterization of Dusty Debris Disks

Young Brown Dwarfs and Giant Planets

An Astrometrically Measured Mass for Extrasolar Planet Gliese 876b

Probing Active Galactic Nuclei
with the Iron Line

Using the Sunyaev-Zeldovich Effect to Determine Ho and the Baryon Fraction











Educational Background:

B.A. (Hons), Physics, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, 2001
M.S., Astronomy & Astrophysics, UCLA, 2003
Ph.D., Astronomy & Astrophysics, UCLA, 2007
Mirzayan Fellow, DEPS, The National Academies, 1/2009-4/2009
Henry Norris Russell Fellow, Astrophysical Sciences, Princeton University, 2007-2009
NSF Postdoctoral Fellow, Astrophysical Sciences, Princeton University, 2009-2012
Civil Servant, Exoplanets and Stellar Astrophysics Laboratory (Code 667), NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, 2009-2012

Research Interests:

I'm a postdoctoral researcher who is investigating planet formation and evolution. As a graduate student, I joined the UCLA Infrared Imaging Detector Laboratory and became a core team member for the OSIRIS instrument. OSIRIS is an infrared integral field spectrograph that operates behind the W.M. Keck Observatory adaptive optics system. I used OSIRIS to search for extrasolar planets in the haloes of nearby young stars. At Princeton, I am continuing extrasolar planetary science in collaboration with the SEEDS survey at the Subaru telescope. I have also been involved in the development of next generation instrumentation for the Subaru high-contrast instrumentation. In parallel, I have been working on wavefront control algorithms and space coronagraph/occulter technologies with the Princeton TPF group. I have also joined the Program on Science & Global Security, where I am studying the long-term effects of space debris created in a kinetic-kill ASAT space conflict.

Teaching Experience:

  1. Boeing Summer Internship Mentor 2008
  2. Center for Adaptive Optics Summer Internship Mentor 2005
  3. Center for Adaptive Optics Akamai Observatory Short Course Instructor, 2004-2005
  4. Teaching Assistant Coordinator, UCLA Office of Instructional Development 2004
  5. GE 70 Teaching Fellow, 2003-2004 Academic Year
  6. Center for Adaptive Optics Professional Development Workshop; Maui, HI, 2003-2005, 2007
  7. UCLA Planetarium Coordinator 2002-2004
  8. Teaching Assistant Coordinator, Physics & Astronomy Department 2002-2004
  9. Astro 003 TA, Spring 2002
  10. Astro 008 TA, Winter 2002
  11. Astro 003 TA, Fall 2001
  12. University of Pennsylvania Summer Science Academy TA, Summer 2001

Selected Publications:

"First High-Contrast Science with an Integral Field Spectrograph: the Sub-Stellar Companion to GQ Lup," McElwain, M. W., Metchev, S. A., Larkin, J. E., Barczys, M., Iserlohe, C., Krabbe, A., Quirrenbach, A., Weiss, J., Wright, S. A. 2006, ApJ, 656, 505

"Characterization of Dusty Debris Disks for the IRAS Catalog," Rhee, J. H., Song, I., Zuckerman, B., McElwain, M. W 2006, ApJ, 660, 1556

"Resolved Spectroscopy of M Dwarf/L Dwarf Binaries. II. 2MASS J17072343-0558249AB," McElwain, M. W., & Burgasser, A. J. 2006, AJ, 131, 1007

"OSIRIS: a diffraction limited integral field spectrograph for Keck," Larkin, J., Barczys, M., Krabbe, A., Adkins, S., Aliado, T., Amico, P., Brims, G., Campbell, R., Canfield, J., Gasaway, T., Honey, A., Iserlohe, C., Johnson, C., Kress, E., Lafrenière, D., Lyke, J., Magnone, K., Magnone, N., McElwain, M., Moon, J., Quirrenbach, A., Skulason, G., Song, I., Spencer, M., Weiss, J., Wright, S. 2006, New Astronomy Review, 50, 362

"The 2MASS Wide-Field T Dwarf Search. III. Seven New T Dwarfs and Other Cool Dwarf Discoveries," Burgasser, A. J., McElwain, M. W., Kirkpatrick, J. D., Cruz, K. L., Tinney, C. G., Reid, I. N. 2004, AJ, 127, 2856B

"Keck Imaging of Binary L Dwarfs," Koerner, D. W., Kirkpatrick, J. D., McElwain, M. W., & Bonaventura, N. R. 1999, AJ, 526L, 25K


"An IFS for the Subaru Telescope HiCIAO System,"McElwain, M. W., Kasdin, N. J., Carr. M., Gunn, J., Guyon, O., Hodapp, K., Knapp, G., Pueyo, L., Spergel, D. N., Tamura, M., & Usuda, T. 2008, SPIE Astronmical Instrumentation, 7014-271

"OSIRIS Spectral Imaging of Closely Separated Binaries,"McElwain, M. W., Larkin, J. E., Barczys, M., Weiss, J. L., Wright, S. A., Krabbe, A. C., Iserlohe, C., & Quirrenbach, A. 2005, American Astronomical Society Meeting Abstracts, 207

"The ExAOC Science Instrument: An Integral Field Unit," McElwain, M. W., Larkin, J. E., McLean, I. S. 2004, CfAO Fall Retreat, Lake Arrowhead, CA

"First T Dwarf Discoveries from the 2MASS/Lick All-Sky T Dwarf Search," McElwain, M. W., Burgasser, A. J., & Kirkpatrick, J. D. 2002, Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 34, 658

"A Search for Brown Dwarf Companions to Low-Luminosity Dwarfs," McElwain, M. W., Koerner, D. W., Kirkpatrick, J. D., Reid, I. N., Allen, P. R., Murphy, G. R., 2001, American Astronomical Society Meeting, 199, 61.07