Research Interests



Education Interests

Research Projects

Please also check out my publications!

Current Projects in Progress:

We are building a sample of (U)LIRGs observed with integral field units that complement each other: OSIRIS with its AO-enabled high spatial resolution and WiFeS' wide field. From this we will trace small-scale outflows to identify their effects on the rest of the galaxy. This has the potential to quantify the power of feedback from AGN versus star formation in our local universe. Read about the first example in Medling et al. 2015a.

Building on my thesis work (see below), I am working to expand the GOALS-OSIRIS sample to trace black hole growth during gas-rich major galaxy mergers. We measure black hole masses using kinematic maps that resolve inside the spheres of influence of the black holes, where the models are simpler. See Medling et al. 2015b for evidence that black hole accretion happens earlier (or takes longer!) than we think.

As a member of the SAMI team, I have been getting involved in larger-scale tracers of outflows, to identify what kind of gas flows go on in normal isolated galaxies. I am working on several ways to identify (automatically) where outflows are present, so that we can understand better what drives outflows. See Ho et al. 2014 and 2016 for the first examples.

Since coming back to Caltech, I've started working with the FIRE simulations team to think about clever ways to compare our spatially-resolved observations of black hole growth and galactic winds to their high-quality hydrodynamic simulations. Stay tuned for exciting updates on this topic!

PhD Thesis:

I spent my PhD investigating the nuclear regions (inner kpc) of late-stage nearby gas-rich galaxy mergers nearby. These galaxies were pulled from the GOALS survey of infrared-luminous galaxies and selected so the two nuclei are not more than 5" apart. I observed these galaxies with the integral field spectrograph OSIRIS and laser guide star adaptive optics at Keck Observatory to obtain stellar and gas kinematics at high spatial resolutions (20-80 pc). We used the kinematics to resolve inside the sphere of influence of a supermassive black hole (see our dynamical mass measurement of the south black hole in NGC 6240, Medling et al. 2011), identifying a black hole even when it shows no nuclear activity (being quiescent or buried). We have found and characterized small-scale nuclear disks (Medling et al. 2014) like those seen in high-resoultion merger simulations. Some collaborators: Vivian U (UH/CfA), Claire Max (advisor; UCSC), Lee Armus (Spitzer), Javiera Guedes (ETH Zurich)

At the Università degli Studi di Padova, Italy, 2006-2007:

After graduating from Caltech, I spent a year in Padova on a Fulbright Scholarship working with Giampaolo Piotto's globular cluster group. I primarily spent my time looking at archived UVES spectra of globular cluster members to create accurate radial velocity catalogs. Paper in prep!

At Caltech, 2003-2006:

From 2005-6, I was working at the Michelson Science Center (now NExScI), part of IPAC with Drs. Gerard van Belle and David Ciardi,monitoring the open cluster NGC7789 with the Robotic Palomar 60-inch Telescope, aim to pull interesting science out of precise differential photometry.

In 2004-5, I had the privilege of working with Drs. Derek Fox and Avishay Gal-Yam, using the robotic Palomar 60-inch telescope to quickly obtain photometry for newly-discovered supernovae. The photometry was then analyzed to suggest a constraint on the supernova's type, often before spectra could be obtained and analyzed. Check out our website here.

During the summer of 2003, I worked under Prof. George Djorgovski and Dr. Ashish Mahabal with the intent of creating a smooth panoramic image of the entire northern sky by mosaicking DPOSS images. This is nontrivial because the nonuniform gradients that exist in each image prevent a simple mosaic from smoothing into a single image. Check out the final paper here.