Alaina is a Support Scientist working on the NIRSpec team at STScI. She spends her time making sure that NIRSpec observations can be successfully planned and executed, and works to educate astronomers about using NIRSpec.
Alaina's research focuses on nearby analogs for high-redshift galaxies, as they give us a preview of what we might see with JWST. At present, she uses HST and ground-based telescopes to study metallicity diagnostics, galactic outflows, and the escape of Lyman Alpha and Lyman continuum photons in these galaxies. Her work was the first to show that galaxies with high equivalent width optical emission lines show strong double-peaked Lyman Alpha line profiles due to their especially low column densities of neutral hydrogen. Alaina looks forward to using JWST observations of distant galaxies to test theories that we've developed from research on these nearby galaxies. Prior to developing an interest in low-redshift analogs, Alaina has studied galaxies at intermediate redshifts to the reionization epoch, with an emphasis on the evolution of Lyman Alpha emission and gas-phase metallicities.
Alaina joined STScI in 2016, after a postdoctoral fellowship at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. Prior to that, she held a postdoctoral appointment at UC, Santa Barbara, and completed her PhD at UC, Los Angeles.
PhD in Astronomy and Astrophysics, University of California, Los Angeles
BS in Physics and Astronomy, University of Rochester
- Lyman Alpha Galaxies
- Ultraviolet Spectroscopy
- Galaxy Chemical Evolution
- Galaxy Outflows
- Radiative Transfer
Research Topics: High-Redshift Galaxies; Galaxy Formation and Evolution; Interstellar Medium; Astrochemistry, Chemical Abundances
ORCID ID: 0000-0002-6586-4446