Alyssa Goodman is Professor of Astronomy at Harvard University, and a Research Associate of the Smithsonian Institution. Goodman's research and teaching interests span astronomy, data visualization, and online systems for research and education.
In her astronomical pursuits, Goodman and her research group at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, MA study the dense gas between the stars. They are particularly interested in how interstellar gas arranges itself into new stars. Their investigations use a variety of observational techniques covering the spectral range from X- ray to radio. Goodman was the Principal Investigator of The COMPLETE Survey of Star-Forming Regions, which mapped out three very large star-forming regions in our Galaxy in their entirety. These three regions were also fully observed by the Spitzer Space Telescope, under the c2d "Legacy" Program. The COMPLETE Survey represents a data set of unparalleled diversity and is of order one thousand times larger than what was available a decade earlier. The combined c2d/COMPLETE database allows astrophysicists to address questions like how many stars like the Sun can form from a given mass of gas in the Milky Way?
In more computationally-oriented efforts, Goodman co-founded The Initiative in Innovative Computing (IIC) at Harvard, and she served as its Director from 2005-8. The initiative created an university-wide interdisciplinary center at Harvard fostering work at the boundary between computing and science. More recently, Goodman organized a diverse group of researchers, librarians, and software developers into an ongoing effort known as "Seamless Astronomy," aimed directly at developing, refining, and sharing tools that accelerate the pace of scientific research, especially in astronomy. Current Seamless projects include Glue, Authorea, the ADS All Sky Survey, the Astronomy Dataverse, and the WorldWide Telescope Ambassadors Program.
Goodman's personal research presently focuses primarily on new ways to visualize and analyze the tremendous data volumes created by large and/or diverse astronomical surveys, like COMPLETE. She is working closely with colleagues at Microsoft Research, helping to expand the use of the WorldWide Telescope program, in both research and in education. In 2009, Goodman founded the WorldWide Telescope Ambassadors Program which pairs PhD-level researchers with educators and outreach professionals to improve STEM teaching.
At Harvard, Goodman teaches courses on astrophysics and on the display of data, including one called The Art of Numbers.
Goodman received her undergraduate degree in Physics from MIT in 1984 and a Ph.D. in Physics from Harvard in 1989. She held a President's Fellowship at the University of California at Berkeley from 1989-92, after which she took up a post as Assistant Professor of Astronomy at Harvard. In 1997, she received the Newton Lacy Pierce Prize from the American Astronomical Society for her work on interstellar matter, became full professor at Harvard in 1999, and was named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2009. Goodman recently served as Chair of the Astronomy Section of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and on the National Academy's Board on Research Data and Information, and she currently serves on the both the IAU and AAS Working Groups on Astroinformatics and Astrostatistics.
On twitter: @aagie
On the web: https://www.cfa.harvard.edu/~agoodman/
Last update: December 2012