Astronomer, data scientist,
scientific software, educator,
and indiepop fan.

By which I mean I develop software for science; I’m not software myself.

About Me

I am interested in pushing the envelope of what can be done with data science as applied to astronomy and astronomical data. This includes designing and developing data science techniques to enable discovery that is currently difficult or impossible, modernizing scientific software and user interfaces, data visualization, and education for science researchers. Details of my projects are below.

Projects & Research

Sloan Digital Sky Survey

I am currently the plate designer for the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, arguably the most successful astronomical survey. In addition to designing every plate since 2008 (thousands!), I have played a central role in designing, building, and maintaining infrastructure that is critical to SDSS operations. This includes systems used for nightly observatory operations, design and implementation of the Science Archive Server (SAS), and the SDSS API.


While astronomers are ahead of many other disciplines in having standardized on a single file format (FITS), the software that we use to view these files is difficult to use and (for the most part) are not meaningfully supported for new development. I created Nightlight, a native Macintosh desktop application, to address this need. I aim to demonstrate that investing in software is critical to the field and that users want (and can have!) modern user interfaces for research software. Nightlight will be available in the Mac App Store in early 2016 and demonstrated at the upcoming AAS meeting in Florida. Click here to sign up to the Nightlight announcements mailing list

Public Outreach

Public Outreach

Communicating what we do in astronomy is an important aspect of research. I participate in Astronomy on Tap, an event that brings astronomers to bars for fun and educational evenings that has spread around the world. I started the first offshoot outside of NYC in Columbus, Ohio. Astrotweeps started as a AAS hack in 2014 with Meg Schwamb and Niall Deacon, where we manage the Astrotweeps Twitter account that hosts a new astronomer each week discussing their research.


Trillian is an ambitious project I am designing that will be an all-sky, multi-wavelength astronomical computation platform. The incredible volume of astronomical data means that the days of individual astronomers (or even institutions!) downloading files to analyze are over. Trillian is being developed as an open source project with support from Ohio State’s Center for Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics (CCAPP) department and was selected as one of the pilot research projects for the Mozilla ScienceLab. If you are interested in helping with the development, please contact me!

SciCoder Workshop

SciCoder Workshop

Recognizing that most astronomers are never given a proper background in software development and seeing the resulting frustration as programming is a core component of research today, I created a five day workshop to address this need. SciCoder has been run annually since 2009 in New York City, is targeted to early career researchers, and sells out every year. One day workshops are also regularly held at AAS meetings. 2016 will see the workshop travel to other countries, including Australia. Please contact me if you are interested in hosting a workshop.

Stellar Population Synthesis

I am developing a stellar population synthesis Python library. Initially built as a translation of Charlie Conroy’s FSPS code, this library is being built with expandability in mind. Users will be able to easily plug in their own isochrone library, stellar library, or easily write their own custom initial mass function. My library is being written with Trillian in mind, to be able to run models agains millions of galaxy observations at a time.


If you are interested in collaborating, have any questions about any of my projects, or are looking for indiepop recommendations, please drop me a line or find me on Twitter at @demitrimuna.