Curriculum Vitæ

This document is also available as a more printer-friendly PDF. You can see a list of my publications either in an online table or as a traditionally-formatted printable PDF. My dissertation is also available.

Updated Nov 23, 2016.

Contact Information

Emailpeter@newton.cx (equivalent to pwilliams@cfa.harvard.edu)
Mobile+1 617 922 2689
Post Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
60 Garden St. MS-20
Cambridge, MA 01238

Education

2012 University of California, Berkeley
Ph.D. (Astrophysics)
Dissertation: “Exploring the Dynamic Radio Sky with the Allen Telescope Array” (adviser: Geoffrey Bower)
2008 University of California, Berkeley
M.A. (Astrophysics)
2006 Harvard College
B.A. (Astronomy & Astrophysics and Physics) with honors, magna cum laude

Employment

2012–presentHarvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
Postdoctoral researcher
2006–2012University of California, Berkeley
Graduate student

Research Interests

  • Magnetic activity in low-mass stars, brown dwarfs, and planets
  • Time-domain astrophysics: overall properties of the sky, known and potential sources, surveys
  • Large-scale data analysis: methods, software tools, applications, visualization
  • Observing experience includes:
    • Centimeter and millimeter radio interferometry (Allen Telescope Array, VLA, ALMA)
    • X-ray and UV imaging (Chandra, Swift, XMM-Newton)
    • Optical imaging and spectroscopy (MMT 6m, CTIO/Blanco 4m, Lick/Shane 3m, Lick/Nickel 1m, Lick/CAT 1m)

Awards: Fellowships, Time Allocations, etc.

2007–present Summary of telescope time allocated as PI:
ALMA10.0hr
Allen Telescope Array806.5hr
Chandra141.74ks
Hubble2.0orbit
MMT3.0night
Nickel 1m (Lick Obs.)2.0night
Swift93.98ks
Very Large Array172.0hr
XMM-Newton110.0ks
2010Space Sciences Laboratory, UC Berkeley
Summer research fellowship
2006–2009National Science Foundation
Graduate Research Program fellowship
2006Google, Inc.
“Summer of Code” open-source software development stipend
2006Harvard College Department of Astronomy
Goldberg Senior Thesis prize

Summary of Publications

Since 2004 I have been an author on 39 refereed publications, 12 as first author. As of around Nov 19, 2016, my refereed publications had 767 citations and my h-index was 18, according to NASA ADS. An exhaustive list of all of my publications may be found here.

Summary of Professional Talks

Since 2010 I have given 42 professional talks, 11 of them invited. Venues include 11 conferences and institutions such as AMNH, Cornell, Harvard, Monash University, NASA Ames, Northwestern, Penn State, STScI, UC Berkeley, and UC Santa Cruz. An exhaustive list of talks may be found below.

Summary of Professional Software Contributions

My contributions to open-source scientific software include 4608 commits to 27 public source code repositories on websites like GitHub. Projects on which I am the primary author have received 70 stars and been forked 25 times. An exhaustive list of open-source software repositories may be found below.

Supervised Students

2015Erin Fong (undergraduate)
Presently: Undergraduate student, Tufts University
2013Benjamin Cook (undergraduate)
Presently: Graduate student, Harvard Univ. Dept. of Astronomy
2012Keaton Burns (undergraduate)
Presently: Graduate student, MIT Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research

Teaching

2013–2015Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
Instructor, summer student coding tutorials. Developed and presented tutorial material on git and Python, provided one-on-one assistance to visiting summer students.
2014 NovHarvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
Helper, “Software Carpentry” workshop. Provided one-on-one guidance to Harvard community members in a two-day workshop teaching bash, Python, and git skills.
2010University of California, Berkeley
Co-course head, “Radio Astronomy 101: Everything You Wanted to Know About Radio Astronomy but Were Afraid to Ask” (Astronomy 250). With four fellow graduate students, designed and taught a semester-long seminar-style course for graduate students. Researched and selected readings, organized student presentations, presented selected topics.
2008University of California, Berkeley
Co-course head, “Instruction Techniques in General Astronomy” (Astronomy 300). With one fellow graduate student, designed and taught a semester-long course on astronomical pedagogy for new graduate students. Developed and delivered lectures, planned activities, wrote and graded assignments, etc.
2007University of California, Berkeley
Graduate student instructor, “Optical Astronomy Laboratory” (Astronomy 120). Taught selected topics, assisted advanced undergraduates with statistics, data analysis techniques, report writing, and remote and in-person observations at Lick Observatory. Average rating in end-of-semester evaluations: 6.7 out of 7 (N = 15).
2006University of California, Berkeley
Graduate student instructor, “Introduction to General Astronomy” (Astronomy 10). Taught sections, developed test questions, provided one-on-one assistance to students, etc.

Summary of Public Engagement Activities

Since 2009 my public engagement activities have included a variety of outreach events, 3 press releases, 12 interviews in the media, and 3 public talks. An exhaustive list of activities may be found below.

Professional Service

2016–presentStellar Lifecycles science working group member, NASA X-Ray Surveyor Science and Technology Definition Team
2013–presentReferee: AJ, ApJ, ApJL, MNRAS, Nature
2016Co-chair, “Transients and Timing” session of 2016 National Radio Science Meeting (Boulder, CO)
2015 AprOrganizer, CfA “hack day”
2014 JunFacilitator, Chandra Cycle 16 Peer Review process
2012 AprParticipant in AAS Congressional Visits Day to lobby for basic research funding
2011 NovResearch project adviser, UC Berkeley COMPASS Project: physics mentoring for first-year UCB undergraduates from underrepresented backgrounds

Other Professional Development

2008NASA Center for Astronomy Education
Attended “Improving the Introductory Astronomy Survey Course for Non-Science Majors through Active Learning: A Teaching Excellence Workshop”
2008NRAO, Socorro
Attended “Synthesis Imaging Summer Workshop”
2007Combined Array for Research in Millimeter Astronomy (CARMA)
Attended “CARMA Millimeter Interferometry Summer School”

Exhaustive List of Professional Talks

2016 NovAt ‘Time-Domain Astrophysics: Incorporating Observations, Theory, and Computation in the American Northeast’ (Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study)
“Fast Radio Bursts and Slow Radio Transients”
2016 NovAstrophysics Seminar (invited), Brown University
“The Dream of Fields: Magnetism in Cool Stars, Brown Dwarfs, and (Eventually) Exoplanets”
2016 Oct2016 HERA Workshop, MIT
“The HERA Monitor and Control System”
2016 OctCfA Colloquium (invited), Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
“The Dream of Fields: Magnetism in Cool Stars, Brown Dwarfs, and (Eventually) Exoplanets”
2016 OctITC Luncheon, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
“Variable and Polarized Radio Emission from a T6 Brown Dwarf”
2016 SepCIERA Astrophysics Seminar (invited), Northwestern University
“News from the Fourth Dimension: Radio Astronomy and the Time Domain”
2016 AugAt ‘U.S. Radio/millimeter/submillimeter Science Futures 2’ (Baltimore, MD; invited)
“Time Domain Science at Low Frequencies”
2016 MarAt ‘Synergistic Science in the Radio Regime’ (Carnegie Observatory)
“GRBs, planets, and AGNs: Things That Go ‘Bump’ in the Radio Sky”
2016 MarLoeb group meeting, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
“An Update on Fast Radio Bursts”
2016 MarITC Luncheon, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
“An Update on the Claimed Precise Localization of FRB 150418”
2015 DecSmall-Scale Seminar, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
“Little Stars, Big Storms: Rethinking the Near-Space Environments of Cool Dwarfs”
2015 DecAt ‘Science at Low Frequencies II’ (Albuquerque, NM, USA)
“Exoplanets with HERA”
2015 NovStar and Planet Formation Seminar, STScI
“The Dream of Fields: Magnetism in Cool Stars, Brown Dwarfs, and (Eventually) Exoplanets”
2015 NovJILA astrophysics lunch talk, CU Boulder
“The Dream of Fields: Magnetism in Cool Stars, Brown Dwarfs, and (Eventually) Exoplanets”
2015 OctAstronomy Department lunch talk, UC Berkeley
“HERA for Exoplanets”
2015 OctPlanetary lunch, UC Santa Cruz
“The Dream of Fields: Magnetism in Cool Stars, Brown Dwarfs, and (Eventually) Exoplanets”
2015 OctCEHW Seminar, Penn State University
“The Dream of Fields: Magnetism in Cool Stars, Brown Dwarfs, and (Eventually) Exoplanets”
2015 SepAstronomy Colloquium (invited), Cornell University
“Magnetic Fields at Low Temperatures: Cool Stars, Brown Dwarfs, and (Eventually) Exoplanets”
2015 AprRAL Seminar, UC Berkeley
“Magnetic Fields at Low Temperatures: Cool Stars, Brown Dwarfs, and (Eventually) Exoplanets”
2015 AprNASA Ames Research Center
“Magnetic Fields at Low Temperatures: Cool Stars, Brown Dwarfs, and (Eventually) Exoplanets”
2015 AprCASS Astronomy Seminar (invited), UC San Diego
“Magnetic Fields at Low Temperatures: Cool Stars, Brown Dwarfs, and (Eventually) Exoplanets”
2015 AprITC Luncheon, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
“The Rotation Period and Magnetic Field of a T6.5 Brown Dwarf Measured from Periodic Radio Bursts”
2015 FebAt ‘Fourth BCool Workshop’ (Geneva, Switzerland; invited)
“Extreme Activity in Extreme Objects: The Radio View of Cool-Star Magnetism”
2014 SepAstronomy & Space Physics seminar (invited), University of Delaware
“Youthful hyperactivity: magnetism in the low-mass benchmark binary NLTT 33370 AB”
2014 JunAt ‘Cool Stars 18’ (Flagstaff, Arizona)
“Pushing the Limits of Auroral Radio Emission: New Results from the T6.5 Dwarf 2MASS 1047+21”
2014 JanAt ‘Third BCool Workshop’ (St Andrews, Scotland)
“Radio emission and magnetic activity in the ultracool regime”
2013 DecMonash University
“Strong magnetic fields in ultra-cool dwarfs: new observational insights”
2013 DecAt ‘Exploring the Radio Transient Sky’ (Sydney, Australia; invited)
“ASGARD: a large survey for Galactic radio transients”
2013 DecUniversity of New South Wales
“Strong magnetic fields in ultra-cool dwarfs: new observational insights”
2013 NovAmerican Natural History Museum
“Magnetic Activity Past the Bottom of the Main Sequence”
2013 NovSSP seminar, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
“Directly Detecting Exoplanets … at Radio Wavelengths”
2013 OctAstronomy lunch seminar, Boston University
“Magnetic Activity Past the Bottom of the Main Sequence”
2013 SepPhysics colloquium (invited), Bucknell University
“Magnetic Activity in the Coolest, Smallest Stars”
2013 SepRAL seminar, University of California, Berkeley
“Magnetic Activity Past the Bottom of the Main Sequence”
2013 MayAt ‘Brown Dwarfs Come of Age’ (Fuerteventura, Spain)
“The Observed Rotation/Activity Relations of Ultracool Dwarfs”
2013 MayAt ‘Radio Astronomy in the LSST Era’ (Charlottesville, USA)
“ASGARD: A Large Survey for Galactic Radio Transients”
2013 AprOIR seminar, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
“Magnetic Activity Past the Bottom of the Main Sequence”
2012 NovCfA postdoctoral symposium, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
“ASGARD: A Large Survey for Galactic Radio Transients”
2012 JanAt AAS Meeting #219 (Austin, USA)
“AGILITE: An ATA Survey to Characterize the Population of Galactic Radio Transients and Variables”
2011 SepRadio & Geoastronomy lunch talk, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
“Exploring the Transient Radio Sky with the Allen Telescope Array”
2011 SepAt ‘Second Workshop on 3rd Generation Calibration in Radio Astronomy’ (Albufeira, Portugal)
“ATA Dishes and Beamshapes”
2010 MarAt ‘Third RFI Mitigation Workshop’ (Groningen, Netherlands)
“The RFI Environment at Hat Creek Radio Observatory”

Exhaustive List of Publications

Please see here.

Professional Software Contributions

These are quantified in commits to public source code repositories on GitHub. They are ordered by the date of my most recent commit

2016 Octpkgw/pwkit (2 stars, 3 forks, 1 contributors)
“Miscellaneous science/astronomy tools.”
461 commits (100% of repository total)
2016 OctHERA-Team/hera_mc (0 stars, 1 forks, 3 contributors)
“The HERA monitor and control (M&C) system.”
12 commits (18% of repository total)
2016 Octpkgw/worklog-tools (4 stars, 3 forks, 1 contributors)
“Framework for generating CV, publications list, etc.”
121 commits (100% of repository total)
2016 Octpkgw/conda-recipes (4 stars, 3 forks, 1 contributors)
“Miscellaneous "recipes" for the Conda packaging system.”
332 commits (100% of repository total)
2016 Octpkgw/bibtools (2 stars, 1 forks, 1 contributors)
“Command-line bibliography manager”
276 commits (100% of repository total)
2016 OctHERA-Team/librarian (1 stars, 0 forks, 5 contributors)
“The HERA Librarian.”
167 commits (61% of repository total)
2016 Octpkgw/tex-stuff (16 stars, 3 forks, 1 contributors)
“Helpful LaTeX files. This repository formerly named "yahapj".”
36 commits (100% of repository total)
2016 Octpkgw/dbus-cplusplus (0 stars, 1 forks, 5 contributors)
“Forked version of dbus-c++ 0.9.0 that fixes various compilation issues.”
10 commits (5% of repository total)
2016 SepHERA-Team/aipy (0 stars, 0 forks, 7 contributors)
“The HERA version of AIPY (Astronomical Interferometry in PYthon)”
8 commits (2% of repository total)
2016 AugHERA-Team/scanalyzer (0 stars, 0 forks, 1 contributors)
“Interactive frequency/time visibility visualizer.”
23 commits (100% of repository total)
2016 Julpkgw/omegaplot (8 stars, 1 forks, 1 contributors)
“Easy, attractive, better-than-publication-quality plots in Python”
426 commits (100% of repository total)
2016 JunHERA-Team/hera-images (0 stars, 0 forks, 4 contributors)
“Dockerized framework for testing HERA software.”
107 commits (90% of repository total)
2016 MayHERA-Team/RTP (2 stars, 1 forks, 5 contributors)
“The HERA Real-Time Pipeline for data processing.”
13 commits (4% of repository total)
2016 MayHERA-Team/omnical (0 stars, 0 forks, 4 contributors)
“HERA branch of Jeff Zheng's omnical: redundant calibration for low frequency radio interferometers”
1 commits (<1% of repository total)
2016 Aprpkgw/iraf (0 stars, 0 forks, 2 contributors)
“A hacked-up version of IRAF that is marginally more buildable”
47 commits (51% of repository total)
2016 Marpkgw/miriad-macport (2 stars, 0 forks, 1 contributors)
“A Portfile allowing CARMA MIRIAD to be built in MacPorts, and support files”
131 commits (100% of repository total)
2016 Marpkgw/carma-miriad (4 stars, 2 forks, 3 contributors)
“A mirror of the CVS repository for the CARMA version of the MIRIAD radio astronomy package”
264 commits (5% of repository total)
2016 Febpkgw/webtex (14 stars, 2 forks, 1 contributors)
“Complete LaTeX engine implemented fully in JavaScript.”
851 commits (100% of repository total)
2015 Octpkgw/precastro (1 stars, 0 forks, 1 contributors)
“Precision astronomy libraries in Python”
65 commits (100% of repository total)
2015 Octpkgw/miriad-python (8 stars, 2 forks, 2 contributors)
“Clean Python bindings to the MIRIAD radio astronomy package”
421 commits (100% of repository total)
2015 Maypkgw/yoitsagrb (1 stars, 0 forks, 2 contributors)
“Get Yos from space.”
16 commits (64% of repository total)
2015 Maypkgw/pwpy (5 stars, 4 forks, 1 contributors)
“Science/astro Python tools being superseded by pwkit.”
643 commits (30% of repository total)
2014 Octpkgw/ucastrothesis (6 stars, 5 forks, 2 contributors)
“Up-to-date LaTeX files for making a University of California PhD thesis”
69 commits (99% of repository total)
2014 Junpkgw/bloomdemo (1 stars, 1 forks, 1 contributors)
“A simple Python project implementing a Bloom filter for fooling around with Git.”
23 commits (100% of repository total)
2014 Maydfm/emcee (587 stars, 243 forks, 33 contributors)
“The Python ensemble sampling toolkit for affine-invariant MCMC”
3 commits (1% of repository total)
2013 Novpkgw/aoflagger (1 stars, 1 forks, 2 contributors)
“André Offringa's RFI flagger”
2 commits (1% of repository total)
2013 Novpkgw/mirtoms (0 stars, 1 forks, 1 contributors)
“Hacked "filler" to create CASA measurement sets from MIRIAD data”
80 commits (100% of repository total)

Exhaustive List of Public Engagement Activities

2016 Novtechcrunch.com
Background interview: “NSF may shut down West Virginia’s Green Bank Telescope and people aren’t happy”
2016 AugZeit Online (Germany)
Background interview: “An Interesting SETI Candidate in Hercules”
2016 Apr“Astropreneurship and Medicine in Space Hackathon” (Harvard University)
Judge
2016 AprHarvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
Press release: “Fast Radio Burst ‘Afterglow’ Was Actually a Flickering Black Hole”
2016 MarGizmodo
Interview: “Mysterious Cosmic Radio Bursts Just Got Even More Interesting”
2016 MarScientific American
Background interview: “The Recurring Question: Where Do Fast Radio Bursts Come from?”
2016 Marmashable.com
Background interview: “Astronomers discover repeating radio burst that flashes like a strobe light”
2016 Febmashable.com
Interview (syndicated): “Mysterious burst of radio waves traced to galaxy billions of light-years away”
2015 DecNASA JPL
Press release: “NASA Telescopes Detect Jupiter-Like Storm on Small Star”
2015 Decbild der wissenschaft (Germany)
Interview: “The First Millimeter Detection of a Non-Accreting Ultracool Dwarf”
2015 NovSky at Night Magazine (UK)
Interview: “Small red dwarf rivals our own Sun”
2015 NovAstronomy Now (UK)
Interview: “The little star with a mighty magnetic punch”
2015 NovABC “StarStuff” astronomy podcast (Australia)
Background interview: “Cool, Dim Dwarf Star is Magnetic Powerhouse”
2015 NovCfA / NRAO / ALMA
Press release: “Tiny, Ultracool Star is Super Stormy”
2015 Sep“Astrotweeps” Twitter account
Guest tweeter: “week in the life” of a scientist
2015 AprHarvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
Participant, “Cambridge Explores the Universe” open house
2015 MarEast Boston High School
Classroom visitor, Cambridge Science Festival “Einstein in the Classroom” program: teaching 9th graders about General Relativity
2013 FebUniverse Today (universetoday.com)
Interview: “In Reality, Nebulae Offer No Place for Spaceships to Hide”
2013 JanSpace.com
Interview (syndicated): “Faint Radio Signals Reveal Secrets of Failed Stars”
2010–2012UC Berkeley
Webmaster, “Science@Cal” public scientific lecture series
2007–2012UC Berkeley
Participant, annual “Cal Day” open house activities for Department of Astronomy
2010 Jun 12Hat Creek Radio Observatory
Participant, “Cakes, Pies, and Starry Skies” Open House and Star Party
2009UC Berkeley
Co-organizer, International Year of Astronomy 2009 activities: planning outreach events, staffing them
2009 Oct 22San Francisco Amateur Astronomers
Public talk: “Exploring the Invisible Universe: The Past and Future of Radio Astronomy”
2009 Sep 11Peninsula Astronomical Society (San Mateo, CA)
Public talk: “Exploring the Invisible Universe: The Past and Future of Radio Astronomy”
2009 Jun 7East Bay Astronomical Society
Public talk: “Exploring the Invisible Universe: The Past and Future of Radio Astronomy”