Kristen Thompson

Education

Ph.D, M.S. University of Kentucky
B.S. Mount Union College

Background

My research interests lie in the field of observational astronomy. I use observations of the Zeeman effect in radio frequency spectral lines to determine the role of magnetic fields in the star formation process. Stars are known to form from giant conglomerations of gas and dust called molecular clouds, but the details of the formation process are not yet well understood. Molecular clouds are pervaded by an interstellar magnetic field that can hinder, or even prevent, the formation of stars if the field is strong enough. It is known that the star formation process is extremely inefficient, as it is predicted to be nearly 100 times the observed rate. Could magnetic fields be responsible for the inefficiency? This is the question I hope to answer.

To carry out my research, I have traveled across the country and abroad to use several radio telescopes such as the Arecibo Telescope in Puerto Rico and the Very Large Array in Socorro, New Mexico made famous by the James Bond movies, as well as the adaptation of Carl Sagan's Contact.

I am an avid NASCAR fan and look forward to race day every weekend. When not watching NASCAR or doing astronomy, I enjoy being outside on a boat or on a trail. I also enjoy stargazing, trips to the park with my husband and cat, cross stitching, and reading.

Teaching

PHY 106 Astronomy with Lab
PHY 230 General Physics with Calculus
PHY 410 Intermediate Astrophysics