Kelsey Johnson (University of Virginia)
Ancient remnants from the early universe surround our galaxy. These relics, know as “globular clusters” have the potential to provide insight into the prevailing physical conditions during an epoch that cannot be directly observed. While some progress has been made, and we now know globular clusters can still be formed during extreme episodes of star formation in the relatively nearby universe, the actual physical conditions that give rise to globular clusters has vexed both observers and theorists for decades. With the new capabilities of the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) we have the ability to probe the birth environments of that gave rise to these ancient objects for the first time. This talk will give an overview of progress that has been made, and highlight the importance of using chemistry to help us understand physical conditions in the interstellar medium.
Kelsey John is a Professor of Astronomy and Director of the Echols Scholars Program at the University of Virginia. Founding director of the Dark Skies Bright Kids outreach program. She is currently serving on the board of the American Astronomical Society, and is the vice president of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific. She is the previous chair of the international ALMA Science Advisory Committee, and was recently appointed by the White House OSTP to the Astronomy and Astrophysics Advisory Committee. Winner of NSF CAREER Award and Packard Fellowship. Johnson has won several teaching awards, including the “All University Teaching Award”, she was elected to the UVA Academy of Teaching, and was recently named as one of four “ACC Distinguished Professors” in the Atlantic Coast Conference of universities. Her research spans galaxy evolution, with a focus on ancient star formation in the universe, and has received press ranging from Washington Post to Huffington Post. B.A. Physics (Carleton College), M.S., Ph.D. Astrophysics (University of Colorado, Boulder).