The Milky Way Laboratory Research Team

Meet the people who make the science happen!


Cara Battersby

Dr. Cara Battersby is the PI and founder of the Milky Way Laboratory, and is currently an assistant professor at UConn in Physics. She received her PhD in astrophysics from the University of Colorado at Boulder, then held SMA and NSF postdoctoral fellowships at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Prof. Battersby studies how stars are born in our Galaxy’s Central Molecular Zone (CMZ), both observationally (CMZoom and related follow-up) and using numerical simulations, and ideally, combining both! Prof. Battersby is passionate about the future of astrophysics. She has worked with folks at NASA on developing a major space mission concept (Origins Space Telescope), is a co-founder of two major outreach programs CU-STARs and BiteScis, and secretly wants to be Carl Sagan when she grows up. She loves being active outdoors (hiking, climbing, etc!), playing music and spending time with her wonderful family and friends. Dr. Battersby believes that Black lives matter, no human is illegal, trans rights are human rights, and that equal access to education is the recipe for a better world.



Dr. Daniel Walker joins us from the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile where he worked as a postdoctoral fellow after graduating with his PhD from Liverpool John Moores University. His thesis was entitled “The formation of high-mass stars and stellar clusters in the extreme environment of the Central Molecular Zone” and was supervised by Dr. Steve Longmore. Dan is leading the kinematics, spectral line analysis, and Bayesian distance estimator for “3-D CMZ: Unveiling the Structure of our Galaxy’s Central Molecular Zone.”  Dan is also continuing his work understanding star and cluster formation in the CMZ. He is an expert with interferometry data, and is performing some of the highest-resolution, most sensitive studies of protostellar cores in our Galaxy’s Center.



Graduate Students:

H Perry HatchfieldH Perry Hatchfield has been a graduate student in the Milky Way Laboratory since Spring 2017. He is the king of comparing simulations and observations, and is our go-to expert for all things python! Perry is leading the CMZoom Catalog and connecting our results with star formation tracers. He works with our colleagues, Ralf Klessen, Mattia Sormani, Robin Tress, and Rowan Smith, to run AREPO simulations of our Galactic Center. Currently, he is working on including tracer particles to see where clouds in our Galactic Center come from, and is soon working on zoom simulations of clouds in our Galactic Center to study their detailed physics, star formation, and turbulence properties. Perry is also an LSST Data Science Fellow and an avid science communicator. Check out his BiteScis posts!



Jennifer WallaceJennifer Wallace has been a graduate student in the Milky Way Laboratory since Spring 2020. She is currently becoming a radio interferometry ninja, working with ALMA data toward our Galaxy’s Center. She is studying the unique properties of the Sgr E molecular cloud and is working to uncover the 3-D structure of our Central Molecular Zone. Having done her Bachelor’s degree in Physics, Jen is new to this whole astronomy business, but she is catching up in no time… armed with color-coded notes and questions!




Dani LipmanDani Lipman joined us as a first year graduate student in Fall 2020. During the 2019/2020 Academic Year, Dani was on Fulbright Research Award in China to study faculty participation in science outreach, before, y’know, Covid-19 had anything to say about that. Dani completed her Bachelor’s in 2019 at the University of Iowa. She will be leading the dust extinction study as part of “3-D CMZ: Unveiling the Structure of our Galaxy’s Central Molecular Zone.”




Undergraduate Students:

Hannah Koziol

Hannah Koziol has been a member of the Milky Laboratory since Spring 2020. Her research is focused on understanding star formation in our extreme Galactic Center, and in particular, how environment affects star formation. She is creating synthetic observations from molecular cloud simulations to study how well measured density Probability Distribution Functions (PDFs) represent the true underlying physical and turbulent nature of molecular clouds.





Danya Alboslani

Danya Alboslani is a first year undergraduate physics major, who joined the Milky Way Laboratory in Spring 2021. Danya is working to develop a WorldWide Telescope tour on our Galactic Center. This research is part of the 3-D CMZ project and will highlight the curious nature of our Galaxy’s Center and the importance of understanding its 3-D structure.





Eddie Herndon has been a member of the Milky Laboratory since Fall 2019. He is using spectral lines from the CMZoom survey to measure the temperatures of protostellar cores in the CMZ. This work is key for understanding the physics of star formation and core mass funciton in this extreme environment.

Eric Hilhorst has been a member of the Milky Laboratory since Spring 2020. His research is focused on understanding turbulence in our Galaxy’s Center using the python package turbustats.

Payal Shah has been a member of the Milky Laboratory since Spring 2020. She specializes in Galactic Structure and her research is focused on understanding the Bones of the Milky Way.

Aisha Massiah re-joined the Milky Way Laboratory in Spring 2021, near the end of a diverse and rich undergraduate career, spanning her published work on supernova cosmology to now working on developing a WorldWide Telescope tour on our Galactic Center.


Former Members:

Yiyan Kuang (Fall 2020), Anthony (Josh) Machado (Spring 2018 – Summer 2020), Bryan Garcia-Medina (Fall 2019 – Spring 2020), Jonah Cerbin (Spring 2019), Stephen Walczyk (Spring 2019 – Fall 2019), Joseph Giangregorio (Fall 2017 – Spring 2019), Alice Hall (Spring 2018 – Summer 2019), Aisha Massiah (2018), Brian Zelicskovics (Spring 2018), Alexa Abul (Fall 2017 – Spring 2018), Christopher Annuzzi (Fall 2017 – Fall 2018), Cooper Biancur (Fall 2017 – Spring 2018), Stephanie Santillo (Fall 2017).