Keaton Bell
NSF Astronomy and Astrophysics Fellow and DIRAC Fellow
University of Washington

About Me

Picture of Keaton. I am a NSF Astronomy and Astrophysics Postdoctoral Fellow and a DIRAC Institute Fellow in the University of Washington Astronomy Department. I work on problems in time domain stellar astrophysics, exoplanets, and asteroseismology. My current focus is to discover the first planets around white dwarf stars by identifying transits in Zwicky Transient Facility data, as well as to train the next generation of astronomers and data scientists as a research mentor to undergraduates. In particular, I mentor students belonging to groups that are underrepresented in astronomy as part of the Pre-Majors in Astronomy Program (Pre-MAP), providing hands-on research experience at the beginning of their undergraduate studies. My students and I are also active in the area of pulsating white dwarf science with TESS data, and I coordinate the pulsating white dwarf subgroup of the TESS Asteroseismic Science Consortium.

I earned my PhD from the Department of Astronomy at the University of Texas at Austin with my advisers Don Winget and Mike Montgomery. My thesis, "Pulsational Oddities at the Extremes of the DA White Dwarf Instability Strip", explored the many ways that white dwarf stars can be photometrically variable, with particular focus on the interesting behaviors of stellar pulsations near the cool and low-mass edges of the ZZ Ceti instability strip. I observed a total of 225 nights on the 82-inch Otto Struve Telescope at McDonald Observatory during this work. I led the discovery of a new pulsationally driven outburst behavior from ZZ Ceti variables in Kepler data, and I used stellar pulsations to understand the class of extremely low-mass white dwarfs that form through mass transfer in close binary systems.

You can find a more detailed account of my research activities on my publications page, including summaries of selected works.

Public Talks/Interviews

Astronomy at Home, Oct 8 2020, "Sounding the Depths of Stars"

Astronomy on Tap ATX, Dec 15 2015, "Stellar Autopsies with an 82-inch Scalpel"

"They Blinded Me with Science" radio program, April 14 2014

Science Talks

Online Meetings of Evolved Stars and Systems III, April 6 2021, "The Seismic Technique for Obtaining Fundamental White Dwarf Parameters"

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Award No. AST-1903828. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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