In the past several years, I have been amazed to see how quickly things are changing in both astrophysics and industry as a result of the techniques of data science seeing increased use. I find this to be extremely exciting and I am looking forward to transitioning further into this domain in the near future.
I can best be contacted at the following email address:
A supernova is the violent, explosive death of a star.
Such an explosion is so luminous that it can outshine the galaxy which hosts it.
Supernovae can be split into many subclasses, depending on the observational properties, which are in turn linked to the properties of the projenitor star.
One subclass is called Type 1A Supernovae. These are believed to be caused by explosions of white dwarfs.
Type 1A Supernovae are of particular interest because they can be used as "standard candles", which allow us to make simultaneous measurements of distance and redshift. These measurements are what led to the discovery that the universe is accelerating in it's expansion, presumably due to a "dark energy" which fills the universe.
In my research, supervised by Saul Perlmutter in the Supernova Cosmology Project at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, I worked on the discovery pipeline for the supernovae, which involves filtering through huge numbers of subtracted images of the sky, combing the data for changes in brightness over time which mark the presence of a supernova.
I also worked on the processing of lightcurves, or plots of brightness vs. time in different frequency bands, for archived supernovae.
Binary Black Holes
It is currently believed that most, if not all galaxies have extremely massive (between a million and a billion times the mass of the sun) black holes at their centers. These are referred to as Supermassive Black Holes.
Galaxies are also known to merge with each other, combining to form a new galaxy which contains two very massive black holes.
Once these black holes get close enough to begin orbiting one another, we refer to this as a "Supermassive Binary Black Hole" system.
These binaries are so massive that they can create ripples in spacetime called gravitational waves which can travel all the way to earth and (hopefully) be measured. People are currently working very hard on extremely ambitious experiments such as LIGO in order to detect these gravitational waves.
Gas that is nearby one of these binaries will form a disk. This disk can become very hot and bright, and we can hope to observe them with our telescopes.
In my research, I use supercomputers to perform simulations of these systems in order to make predictions about observational signatures we can exploit to help us discover them.
The simulations I am currently working on are performed on large supercomputers such as NASA's Pleiades Supercomputer using a code called DISCO, which was originally created by Paul Duffell at NYU.
B. D. Farris, P. Duffell, A. I. MacFadyen, Z. Haiman, Binary Black Hole Accretion During Inspiral and Merger, arXiv:1409.5124 (2014)
B. D. Farris, P. C. Duffell, A. I. MacFadyen, Zoltan Haiman, Characteristic Signatures in the Thermal Emission from Accreting Binary Black Holes, MNRAS, 446, L36-L40 (2014)
P. C. Duffell, Z. Haiman, A. I. MacFadyen, D. J. D’Orazio, B. D. Farris, The Migration of Gap Opening Planets is not Locked to Viscous Disk Evolution, ApJL, 792, L10 (2014)
B. D. Farris, P. Duffell, A. I. MacFadyen, and Z. Haiman, Binary Black Hole Accretion From a Circumbinary Disk: Gas Dynamics Inside the Central Cavity, ApJ, 783, 134 (2014)
B.D. Farris, R.G. Gold,V. Paschalidis and S.L. Shapiro, Binary Black Hole Mergers in Magnetized Disks: Simulations in Full General Relativity, Phys. Rev. Lett., 109, 221102 (2012)
A.N.Staley,T.W.Baumgarte,J.D.Brown, B.D.Farris, and S.L.Shapiro, Oppenheimer-Snyder Collapse in Moving-Puncture Coordinates, Classical and Quantum Gravity, 29, 015003 (2012)
B.D. Farris, Y.T. Liu, and S.L. Shapiro, Binary Black Hole Mergers in Gaseous Environments: “Binary Bondi” and “Binary Bondi-Hoyle-Lyttleton” Accretion, Phys. Rev. D., 81, 084008 (2010)
B.D. Farris, T.K. Li, Y.T. Liu, and S.L. Shapiro, Relativistic Radiation Magnetohydrodynamics in Dynamical Spacetimes: Numerical Method and Tests, Phys. Rev. D., 78, 024023 (2008)
Living in New York City, I am fortunate to be surrounded by an extremely vibrant data science community, which I found myself getting drawn into when I moved here in 2012. In addition to seeing the growing influence of Big Data techniques in the astrophysics departments at Columbia and NYU, I was able to take advantage of the community of data scientists outside academia in the city by attending meetups. I decided in 2015 to leave astrophysics and I was accepted as a fellow at the Data Incubator. Following the fellowship, I had the opportunity to join Capital One Labs, where I have been working since.
In addition to practicing Data Science and Machine Learning, I also enjoy the challenge of communicating these topics. Below are two talks that I recently gave on Reinforcement Learning, a topic which I have been particularly fascinated by lately.
A talk on "Reinforcement Learning and Multi-Armed Bandits" which I gave for the "Data Science in 30 Minutes" series at the Data Incubator.
A talk on Reinforcement Learning for Data Scientists that I gave at DataEngConf.
Here is a link to the portfolio project that I completed as a part of the Data Incubator Fellowship
A nice app for keeping lists, journals, and logging activities. It uses Google+ Sign-in for authentication. Eventually, I would like to add analysis to monitor progress, etc. For now the only thing it does is make goofy word clouds from text entries.
I also built my own Theremin from a kit. I have no idea how to play music with it but it sounds pretty cool.
Like most geeks, I went through a beer brewing phase a few years ago. It was fun, but I quickly realized that I was too lazy to keep it up, so I now stick to brewing apfelwein. It tastes delicious, and it can be made with even less effort than going to the store to buy alcohol. Here is a picture of my latest batch:
Living in the city, I don't get out into nature as often as I would like. However, we do the best we can. Here are some pics from various adventures over the years:
Near Big Sur
Elephant seals in Cambria
Geese at Crystal Lake Park in Urbana
Hiking near New Paltz, NY
Moose in Rocky Mountain National Park
Bryce Canyon National Park
Vernal Falls in Yosemite
Backpacking in Yosemite
Zion National Park
Running/Cycling along the Hudson
We are lucky to live relatively close to the Hudson river, where I like to either bike or run along the Huson River Park.