David Andersen

David Andersen
Adjunct Assistant Professor; Research Officer
UVic Physics and Astronomy; HRC Herzberg
Office: Room 309, DAO
Area of expertise

Adaptive optics, instrumentation, galaxies


Areas of Interest: Astronomical Instrumentation, Adaptive Optics, Galaxies

I received my Ph.D. from the Pennsylvania State University in 2001. As part of my thesis, I was the co-Principal Investigator for the SparsePak Integral Field Unit (IFU) fiber feed on the WIYN telescope. I used the similar DensePak IFU on WIYN to study the structure and dynamics of 39 disk galaxies. After my thesis, I worked as a Research Scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg from 2001-2004 where I was heavily involved in the LINC-NIRVANA Fizeau interferometer for the LBT. I have always had an interest in both astronomical instrumentation and the formation and structure of galaxies.

In particular, my observational research has focused on using IFUs to study the velocity fields of relatively nearby spiral galaxies. I am a core team member of the “DiskMass Survey,” in which we combine H-alpha and stellar velocity fields, deep optical and near-infrared imaging, and Spitzer data in order to obtain independent (non-stellar population-based estimates) measures of the mass surface density of spiral disks for roughly 30 galaxies. This measurement will help break degeneracies in rotation curve decompositions. In addition to the DiskMass Survey, I’ve studied asymmetries and the intrinsic ellipticities of normal, unperturbed disk galaxies, and modeled the velocity fields of very late-type galaxies in an effort to find clues to their formation and composition.

As a project scientist, I’m currently heavily involved in the Adaptive Optics (AO) research program at NRC Herzberg (HIA). In particular, I draw upon my extragalactic background when working to design the next generation of wide field AO systems. I am the project scientist for the NFIRAOS facility Multi Conjugate AO system for TMT. I have worked as an AO scientist on GLAO system studies for Gemini and CFHT. I am also co-PI of the University of Victoria Raven Project, a Multi-Object AO testbed slated to be used on the Subaru telescope. I was also PI of the small VOLT (Victoria Open Loop Testbed) at DAO.