January 5, 2023
Mandy Chen was born and raised in Guizhou Province, Southwest China. Before coming to the University of Chicago she was studying at the University of Hong Kong, where she got bachelor’s and master’s degrees in physics and astronomy. This is her fifth year as a PhD student in astronomy and astrophysics. Her research focuses on observations of the diffuse circumgalactic medium—the outermost envelopes of galaxies. She says she “seeks to better understand the dynamical state of this diffuse gas, and its connection to the star-formation/supermassive blackhole activities of galaxies and the cosmic baryon cycle in general.” We spoke to her about her experiences below.
Why did you choose the University of Chicago?
I chose the University of Chicago for the exciting research happening in the astronomy and astrophysics department. As an observational astronomer, the department’s guaranteed access to the 6.5-meter Magellan telescopes made UChicago one of my top choices when choosing grad school. In addition, I really connected with the graduate students in my department when I visited as a prospective student. All these factors combined convinced me to come to UChicago.
What is something you are proud of accomplishing at UChicago?
I am proud of every project I have done with my advisor where we pushed the frontier of the current understanding of how gas particles move around galaxies. In particular, a paper I completed this past summer reports exciting evidence for well-established turbulence inside gaseous halos surrounding galaxies. This finding has profound implications for the thermal and dynamic properties of the diffuse circumgalactic medium. It can help guide future observational and theoretical efforts in further revealing the intricate interactions between gas and galaxies.