Sarah Dodson-Robinson

University of Delaware

Associate Professor, Physics and Astronomy

My LSST-related science interest is in identifying and modeling periodic signals. My group is adapting optimal power spectrum and cross-spectrum estimation tools from the statistics literature for use in astronomical data. The Welch’s power spectrum estimator, which we introduced for astronomical use in Dodson-Robinson et al. (2022, AJ, 163, 169), produces cleaner spectral windows than the Lomb-Scargle periodogram and, unlike Lomb-Scargle, has a variance that decreases with an increasing number of observations. The Welch’s magnitude-squared coherence estimator, which was featured in the same paper, can pick out oscillations in common to two-time series even if the oscillations are phase-shifted and/or insignificant in Lomb-Scargle periodograms when assessed against white noise-based false alarm thresholds. My group is now adapting a power spectrum estimator that suppresses spectral window artifacts and allows observers to identify statistically significant oscillations in the presence of red noise. Our methods will yield lower false-positive rates than traditional period-search methods.

I am fortunate enough to have had supportive mentors at all stages of my career, and I want to be part of a profession that offers all junior scientists the same opportunities that I had. Right now, I am part of the Louis Stokes STEM Pathways and Research Alliance program, which is designed to prepare students from underrepresented groups for graduate study in STEM. I am also a mentor in an internship program that brings Colombian exchange students to the University of Delaware. In the past, I have participated in a Women Mentoring Women program and co-founded a group for women in physics. I give my mentees an honest assessment of the astronomy job market and support them in whatever career path they choose. I want to help create a scientific community in which career choices are determined by personal preference, not institutional climate.

Contact Sarah Dodson-Robinson