Get to Know Gemini! Jason Chu

Get to Know Gemini is a series of blog posts aimed to highlight the different careers, backgrounds, and types of people contributing to Gemini Observatory and its science.

Photo copyright Jason K. Chu.

Name:  Jason Chu

What is your current position and at which telescope?

I am a Gemini Science Fellow at Gemini North Observatory.

In four lines or less, explain what you do as part of the Gemini Observatory team?

I am a part of both the GMOS-N and GRACES instrument support teams.  I have several responsibilities including checking and helping PIs design their Phase 2 observations, support ongoing projects to maintain and improve the performance of both instruments, and also to observe the nighttime queue programs.  The other half of my time I spend on conducting my own research on the brightest infrared galaxies in the universe.

How long have you worked for Gemini?

About 10 months.

What drew you to this job?

Being a part of a team in running a world class observatory, while also conducting my own research.

What is the best part of your job?

See above :).

Where are you originally from/where did you grow up?

I’m originally from Orange County, California (between Los Angeles and San Diego).

What skill do you think is most important to know for your job?

Communicating clearly.  This is important for both disseminating new research findings, as well as helping PIs as a contact scientist or working with others to run the observatory.

Why is astronomy important?

Astronomy is the study of everything that isn’t on Earth, which covers a lot of things, but most importantly it is the study of how we and everything we know of came into existence.

In three lines, explain your PhD thesis.

My dissertation focuses on understanding the nature of luminous infrared galaxies and their role in the overall picture of galaxy evolution, both in the local universe ( closer than 450 Mpc) as well as far away when the universe was only 3 billion years ago.

What are your current research interests?

My current research interest is to understand the spectral energy distributions of local luminous infrared galaxies, using data from Herschel, Spitzer, WISE, and IRAS.  Using these data we can construct the first-ever view of the infrared spectral energy distribution.  I am also interested in the nature of luminous infrared galaxies at high redshift, where they are many more times common than in the local universe.  I am currently using Keck MOSFIRE data to analyze the rest-frame optical spectra of luminous infrared galaxies at z~2.3.

What is your favorite movie?

Lots.  The Dark Knight Trilogy, Interstellar, Gladiator, the Bourne trilogy

What is the latest book you have read?

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

What three albums would you bring with you to a desert island?

The Complete Mozart Piano Concertos, Complete Chopin Piano Works, God is an Astronaut (by self-titled)

What is one hobby of yours?

Photography (landscapes, astro-landscape, portraiture/weddings).

Favorite beverage?

Chai tea latte.

Check back next month to learn more about the staff that help Gemini to explore the Universe and share its wonders!

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