I hold a Bachelor of Science from Virginia Tech and a Master of Science from the University of Tennessee, both of which are in physics. I have undergraduate minors in astronomy and mathematics.
I spent a lot of time in physics labs as an undergraduate at VT and worked on neutrino, ultra-cold neutron and material characterization projects in addition to spending nearly every free hour of my senior year either behind a telescope or rebuilding one. As a graduate student at UTK, I split my time between my regular course work, organizing and leading the astronomy labs (which meant building even more telescopes!) and working on my thesis with the joint UTK+ORNL astrophysics group. My M.S. thesis, "Optimization of Cosmological Simulations with Artificial Intelligence," was accepted in December 2007 and focused on the development of proof-of-principle software for optimizing the final configuration of simulated galaxy collisions with feed-forward back-propagating artificial neural networks and genetic algorithms.