S. George Djorgovski

Professor of Astronomy; Director, Center for Data Driven Discovery; Executive Officer for Astronomy
B.A., University of Belgrade, 1979; M.A., University of California, 1981; Ph.D., 1985; Assistant Professor, Caltech 1987-90; Associate Professor, 1990-97; Professor, 1997-; Director, Center for Data Driven Discovery, 2014-; Executive Officer for Astronomy, 2016-.

I have worked on a broad variety of topics, including structure and dynamics of globular clusters, fundamental properties of galaxies and their evolution, gamma-ray bursts, early phases of galaxy and structure formation, distant quasars, dark energy, etc.

More recently, I have been concentrating on large digital sky surveys and Virtual Observatory, and how these large and complex data sets can be used to explore systematically the observable parameter space, and possibly even discover new types of astrophysical objects and phenomena. I am currently focusing on synoptic sky surveys, where large areas of the sky are imaged repeatedly, looking for highly variable sources and transient events. Their follow-up and interpretation pose many interesting challenges and scientific opportunities.

About a half of my time is spent on the development of computational, mostly data-driven science, beyond astronomy proper. Broadly speaking, I am interested in the ways in which computational and information technology changes the ways we study and understand the world around us. This ongoing revolution is changing all of the science and scholarship, along with nearly every other aspect of modern society. As all fields of sciences face the challenges of an exponential growth of data volumes and complexity, and extraction of knowledge and understanding from the data, we are essentially forging new, general tools for the scientific methodology in the 21st century.

I enjoy working with undergraduate and graduate students, postdocs, and other junior scientists, and have many collaborators world-wide. I appreciate self-motivated, enthusiastic people with a real passion for research.

[Image credits: S. G. Djorgovski and C. Donalek]

Selected Awards: 
Fellow, American Association for Advancement of Science, 2014
First Prize, Boeing-Griffith Science Writing Contest, 2008
Presidential Young Investigator, 1991 – 1997
One of the ISI 1000 most cited physicists, 1981 – 1997
NASA Group Achievement Award, 1996
Dudley Observatory Award, 1991
Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellow, 1988 – 1991
Harvard Junior Fellow, 1985 – 1987
Professional Societies: 
American Association for Advancement of Science (AAAS)
American Astronomical Society (AAS)
International Astronomical Union (IAU)
Association for Computing Machinery (ACM)
Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)
Courses 
Ay 1. The Evolving Universe. 9 units (3-3-3); third term. Introduction to modern astronomy that will illustrate the accomplishments, techniques, and scientific methodology of contemporary astronomy. The course will be organized around a set of basic questions, showing how our answers have changed in response to fresh observational discoveries. Topics to be discussed will include telescopes, stars, planets, the search for life elsewhere in the universe, supernovae, pulsars, black holes, galaxies and their active nuclei, and Big Bang cosmology. This class will be offered in a "flipped classroom" mode: the students will be required to watch the video lectures first, and then discuss them and work out problems in the classroom. A field trip to Palomar Observatory will be organized. Not offered on a pass/fail basis. Instructor: Djorgovski.
Ay 21. Galaxies and Cosmology. 9 units (3-0-6); second term. Prerequisites: Ma 1 abc, Ph 1 abc or instructor's permission. Cosmological models and parameters, extragalactic distance scale, cosmological tests; constituents of the universe, dark matter, and dark energy; thermal history of the universe, cosmic nucleosynthesis, recombination, and cosmic microwave background; formation and evolution of structure in the universe; galaxy clusters, large-scale structure and its evolution; galaxies, their properties and fundamental correlations; formation and evolution of galaxies, deep surveys; star formation history of the universe; quasars and other active galactic nuclei, and their evolution; structure and evolution of the intergalactic medium; diffuse extragalactic backgrounds; the first stars, galaxies, and the reionization era. Instructor: Djorgovsk.
Ay 119. Methods of Computational Science. 9 units (3-0-6); third term. Open to graduate and upper-division undergraduate students in all options. Practical computational science methods useful in disciplines dealing with large and/or complex data sets. Topics include: Scientific databases and archives; data mining and exploration; data visualization techniques; practical techniques for physical modeling, including numerical and stochastic models; data sharing over networks, Web services, computational and data grids; design and understanding of scientific computational systems and experiments, and good software practices. Instructor: Djorgovski.
Selected Publications 

For a complete list of my publications, please visit: http://www.astro.caltech.edu/~george/Djorgovski_bibliography.pdf

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