Who am I?

I am a postdoctoral scholar in theoretical astrophysics jointly at Rutgers University (RU Physics) and the Center for Computational Astrophysics at the Flatiron Institute (CCA), working closely with Dr. Blakesley Burkhart (Site). I recently completed my doctorate at Caltech, having studied galaxy evolution and star formation in cosmological zoom-in simulations as part of the Feedback in Realistic Environments (FIRE) collaboration, with my Ph.D. advisor Dr. Philip F. Hopkins (Group Site), in the Theoretical Astrophysics including Relativity (TAPIR) Group.

I am interested in understanding star formation scaling relations and other observed galaxy-scale correlations, particularly through the lens of feedback-regulation. I use high-resolution cosmological zoom-in simulations and analytic theory work to help "bridge the gap" between theory and the current (and next-generation) high resolution galaxy surveys, by forward modeling observables like CO and CII. I have also taken an active role in service across the Institute through various student government, advisory committees, and departmental committments.

Flight On!

I hail from Southern California, having grown up in the shadow of Caltech's NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in La Cañada Flintridge, CA. I studied Physics, and minored in Astronomy, during my undergraduate studies at the University of Southern California (USC), and completed a significant fraction of an Astronautical Engineering degree. I then headed up the Arroyo Seco Parkway to Pasadena for my graduate studies at Caltech.

In addition to developing a healthy interest in astrophysics, I fell into amateur rocketry at USC, joining and later leading the USC Rocket Propulsion Laboratory (USCRPL), developing motors with more than 20,000 kN of thrust, a hobby which taught me that I could build anything with enough ingenuity.

Other research I have done includes three years of R&D towards a bimodal power and propulsion solar thermal latent heat energy storage system, making use of molten Boron, for the Air Force Research Labs' Advanced Concepts Propulsion Directorate, and a stint at the Mt. Wilson Sixty Foot Solar Observatory studying Solar sub-surface flows, as well as exposing and developing photographic plates for the Mt. Wilson historical sunspot archive (MWO).

Off campus, I have taken an interest in getting science on the screen, having acted as an on-set rocketry consultant for CBS' Strange Angel television series (IMDb). As well, I enjoy playing softball, woodworking, and hiking in the beautiful San Gabriel Mountains.

-- Matt Orr, 2020.