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Andrew J. Connolly, Professor

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Contact Information

Email: ajc@astro
Office : B355
Phone : 206.543.9541
Fax : 206.685.0403
Dept. of Astronomy
University of Washington
Box 351580
Seattle, WA 98195-1580

Shipping Address:
3910 15th Ave NE
Seattle, WA 98195-1580

Research Group

  • Bryce Kalmbach
  • Chris Suberlak
  • Stephen Portillo
  • Kyle Boone
  • Hayden Smotherman
  • Dino Bektesevic
  • John Franklin Crenshaw

Former Members

  • Scott Daniel
  • Simon Krughoff
  • Jake Vander Plas
  • Yusra AlSayyad
  • Andy Becker
  • Russell Owen
  • Ryan Scranton
  • Alberto Conti
  • Jeff Garner
  • Dan Vanden Berg
  • Ching-Wa Yip
  • Sam Schmidt
  • Joerg Colberg
  • Jeremy Brewer
  • Niraj Welikala
  • Cameron McBride
  • Jim Pizagno
  • Rob Gibson
  • Nicole Silvestre

About Me

I arrived at UW in the summer of 2007 after spending some years on the faculty of the University of Pittsburgh and before that at the Johns Hopkins University. This must mean that I am not afraid of cloud as both Pittsburgh and Seattle share the same number of clear days per year (not many). I am currently the Director of the eScience Institute which acts as the Hub of data science on the UW campus, the Associate Vice Provost for Data Science, and the William P. and Ruth Gerberding University Professor. Prior to that I was the founding Director of the DiRAC Institute which is a data science institute for astronomy housed in the Department of Astronomy at the University of Washington. My research focuses on large astronomical surveys such as the Sloan Digital Sky Survey and the Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST) and how we use these data sets to understand the formation and evolution of structure in the universe. This includes developing new computational tools to search and analyze massive data sets. In this direction, with Zeljko Ivezic, Jake VanderPlas, and Alex Gray I wrote a book on Statistics and Machine Learning for Astronomers, "Statistics, Data Mining, and Machine Learning in Astronomy" which we use to teach students how to apply machine learning techniques to astronomical data sets.

Research Interests

Data Science

My interests in data science started with the Sloan Digital Sky Survey and developing techniques too classify the diversity of galaxies that we were detecting. Most recently I was appointed as Director of the eScience Institute. eScience was founded in 2008 to promote data science adoption and methods development across all areas of science, engineering, arts and humanities. From its inception, we have defined five areas that are critical to these efforts: software engineering, statistics, machine learning, visualization, and data management. With a team of staff and 14 graduate level data scientists. The data scientists provide the intellectual infrastructure to support our core service activities for the UW community including:

Data science consulting and office hours Hackweeks and Bootcamps
Data Science Incubators Undergraduate and Graduate data science curricula
Data Science for Social Good Data Science Seminars

Rubin Observatory and LINCC

Camera The Rubin Observatory will undertake the Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST), which will produce the largest digital map of the sky. Every night, LSST will process 20 TB of images and deliver a stream of 10 million alerts for transient, variable, and moving objects in the sky. Each year, Rubin Observatory will reprocess all LSST images with state-of-the-art image processing software to build improved and deeper composite images of the southern sky, detecting tens of billions of objects and characterizing their properties. The scientific reach of the LSST will be extraordinary, addressing questions about the makeup of the Universe as fundamental as: how did the Solar System form; what processes govern the birth and death of stars; how does the dark matter in the Universe sculpt the shape of our own Galaxy; will an asteroid devastate the Earth in the next century; what is the nature of the dark energy that drives the accelerated expansion of our Universe? This once-in-a-generation opportunity will, however, only transform our knowledge of the Universe if the science community is ready with state-of-the-art analysis techniques that work at the scale and complexity of the LSST data. To address this challenge a new partnership called LINCC was established to use cloud native and industry-standard tools such as Spark, Kubernetes and Kafka to scale scientific analyzes to the size and complexity of LSST data. A collaboration between the University of Washington, Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Arizona, Northwestern University and the LSST Corporation sponsored by the Schmidt Futures Foundation will focus on software frameworks that could be developed within our analysis platform making use of common software infrastructure and tools.

Google Sky

I have a long standing interest in astronomical visualization. In 2006 I was on sabbatical at Google where I was project lead for Google Sky which put astronomical images, taken from a wide range of telescopes (from the Hubble Space Telescope, Sloan Digital Sky Survey and the Digitized Sky Surveys), into Google Earth. Google Sky as part of Google Earth is no longer running but you can see some of the imagery using a Google Maps interface.