People in the Lab

  • Professor Matthew Turk

  • Position: Assistant professor
  • Homepage
  • Bio:

    Dr. Matthew Turk received his undergraduate degree at Northwestern University in 2003 and his PhD in Physics from Stanford in 2009. His research in astrophysics was primarily focused on the way that the first stars and galaxies formed in the Universe, which has led him to develop and implement algorithms for data analysis and visualization. He is interested in understanding how scientists process data, developing methods both descriptive and prescriptive around analysis, visualization, and the propagation of information between data and individuals.

  • Dr. Chris Havlin

  • Position: Research scientist
  • Bio:

    Chris Havlin earned his undergraduate degree in Geophysics and Planetary Sciences from Boston University in 2009, followed by a MSc (2011) and PhD (2015) in Geological Sciences from Brown University. His research in computational geodynamics focused on two-phase flow in the upper mantle to better understand how magma migration influences plate tectonics and how partial melt distributions influence seismic observation. From 2015-2020, Chris continued research in geodynamics and geophysics at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, while also providing freelance data science consulting services. Chris joined the Data Exploration Lab in June, 2020, where he works on developing and leveraging open source computational tools for data visualization and analysis in the geosciences.

  • Joined 2020
  • Dr. Kacper Kowalik

  • Position: Research scientist
  • Homepage
  • Bio:

    Dr Kacper Kowalik received his undergraduate degree at Nicolaus Copernicus University (Torun, Poland) in 2008 and his PhD in Astronomy also from Nicolaus Copernicus University in 2014. His research in astrophysics was primarily focused on early stages of protoplanetary formation and circumstellar disks’ instabilities. He is interested in high performance computations – especially in the domain sciences where they haven’t been widely adopted, developing new ways of sharing and interacting with large computational datasets, applying industrial IT solutions to scientific software.

  • Joined 2014
  • Dr. Meagan Lang

  • Position: Research scientist
  • Homepage
  • Bio:

    Dr. Meagan Lang recieved her undergraduate degree at Pennsylvania State University in 2010 and her PhD in Physics from Vanderbilt University in 2015. Her research in astr ophysics has included galaxy evolution, galactic dynamics, large scale structure, and gravitational waves. Through this work, Meagan has developed new tools and techniques for analyzing numerical simulations, modeling noise in gravitational wave detectors, and efficient data access. Meagan is interested in making connections between astronomy and other field s through interdisciplinary research. She is also interested in physics/astronomy education and public outreach in the local Champaign-Urbana community.

  • Joined 2015
  • Dr. Madicken Munk

  • Position: Post-doctoral scholar
  • Homepage
  • Bio:

    Madicken Munk obtained her undergraduate degree from Oregon State University in 2011 and her PhD in Nuclear Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley in 2017. Her dissertation work–completed in residence at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the Berkeley Institute for Data Science–focused on hybrid methods for neutron transport. In the nuclear engineering domain she is interested in computational methods for radiation transport, nuclear reactor physics, and reactor multiphysics simulations. Beyond that, she is interested in developing domain-agnostic open-source tools for data analysis and visualization.

  • Joined 2017
  • Dr. Jared Coughlin

  • Position: Post-doctoral research associate
  • Homepage
  • Bio:

    Jared Coughlin earned his undergraduate degree in Astrophysics from Villanova University in 2011 and his PhD in Physics from the University of Notre Dame in 2018. His dissertation work – Time-Dependent Dark Energy and the Flux Power Spectrum of the Lymna \alpha Forest – focused on using large-scale cosmological simulations in order to study the effects of time-dependent dark energy on an observable known as the Lyman \alpha forest. The goal of the project was to determine whether or not the Lyman \alpha forest can be used as a viable probe of dark energy. In astrophysics, he is intereseted in dark energy, cosmology, and the formation and evolution of galaxies. Other interests include developing and promoting open-source software for scientific use, data analysis, and data visualization.

  • Joined 2018
  • Dr. Hsi-Yu Schive

  • Position: Post-doctoral scholar
  • Bio:

    Hsi-Yu (Justin) is a postdoc at NCSA. My work focuses on GAMER, a GPU- accelerated adaptive mesh refinement code, and it’s astrophysical applications such as black hole accretion, active galactic nuclei jets, and the wave dark matter model.

  • Joined 2016
  • Cassidy Wagner

  • Position: Graduate student
  • Homepage
  • Bio:

    Cassidy is a graduate student in the Astronomy Department. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Astrophysics from the University of Oklahoma in 2018 where she used machine learning techniques to analyze spectral and photometric data from active galactic nuclei. Her current research interests include the formation of Population III stars and the role magnetized turbulence plays in these processes, development of the AMR code GAMER, and open source software and reproducibility. She is also interested in astronomy outreach and is the president of The Hacker Within.

  • Het Patel

  • Position: Graduate student
  • Homepage
  • Bio:

    Het is a graduate student in the Informatics department. He graduated in Spring 2020 from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a degree in Computer Engineering plus a minor in Informatics and then immediately began Graduate School in Fall 2020 amidst a global pandemic. His research is planned to focus on Augmented/Virtual Reality Data Visualizations and big data analytics on a multitude of topics.

  • Joined 2020
  • Kwok Sun Tang

  • Position: Graduate student
  • Homepage
  • Bio:

    Sunny is currently a graduate student in the Astronomy Department. He is interested in the role of magnetic fields and turbulence in the process of star formation. His current research is currently focused on the development of Dengo, a meta-solver for non-equilibrium chemical network with cooling processes. This is essential to the study of wide range of astrophysical processes. In partiular, I and Matt are interested in the physics that leads to the formation of first stars. With Dengo, we will hopefully push current first stars simulations to unprecedented boundaries and see the first lights of these objects.

  • Sam Walkow

  • Position: Graduate student
  • Bio:

    Sam Walkow is a PhD student studying data visualization and research software. She received her bachelors in Psychology and Sociology from Purdue University in 2014. Her areas of interest include how software is used across science domains, how different domains approach data analysis and visualization, and what motivates users to re-use and re-purpose software tools. She also has experience in data management and research software in a healthcare setting, and hopes to expand her knowledge across science domains to build and maintain effective software tools.

  • Yilin Xia

  • Position: Graduate student
  • Homepage
  • Bio:

    Yilin Xia is a PhD student in the School of Information Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His research interest is in Human-Centered Data Science, focusing on the application of techniques from Visualization, Data Management, and Human-Computer Interaction to help people better understand and utilize data while ensuring transparency and reproducibility of their work

  • Joined 2019
  • Wei-Ting Liao

  • Position: Graduate student
  • Bio:

    Wei-Ting is interested in the evolution of the first proto-stellar systems and the dynamo process in the early Universe. She is also a code developer of GAMER.


Former Lab Members