Meet DIRAC’s Research Team: Gwendolyn Eadie

December 2018 Newsletter

Eadie’s research falls in the category of astrostatistics, an interdisciplinary field of astronomy and statistics. On the astronomy side, she is interested in properties of the Milky Way Galaxy such as its mass and amount of dark matter, as well as its stellar populations, globular cluster population, and central nuclear star cluster.

Dr Eadie works with Associate Professors and Senior Data Science Fellows  Dr. Mario Juric (DIRAC, Department of Astronomy, eScience) and Dr. Tyler McCormick (Department of Statistics, Department of Social Science, CSSS, eScience).

Dr. Eadie is an eScience Institute and DIRAC Postdoctoral Fellow. She joined DIRAC in September 2017 after completing her PhD in Physics & Astronomy at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Eadie also has a Masters in Physics, Engineering Physics, & Astronomy from Queen’s University at Kingston, Ontario and a Bachelor of Science in Physics, with a minor in Publishing, from Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, British Columbia. Having grown-up on Vancouver Island, she is very happy to be back in the Pacific Northwest for her postdoctoral fellowship. 

On the statistics side, Eadie is interested in Bayesian hierarchical modelling, Markov chain Monte Carlo techniques, and in general, implementing and developing modern statistical methods to and for astronomical problems. Observational data in astronomy is undergoing a big data revolution, and Eadie is interested in harnessing these data sets with the best statistical tools in order to test physical models of the Milky Way. She hopes to learn not only about the Milky Way’s present properties and structure but also its formation history in the context of the larger Local Group of galaxies.

Most recently, Eadie and Juric co-authored a paper about the Milky Way’s mass as estimated from the data acquired by the European Space Agency’s Gaia Satellite. Gaia has collected position and velocity information of over 1 billion stars in the Milky Way Galaxy! Their work has been submitted to the Astrophysical Journal and is currently undergoing peer-review.

Eadie is also passionate about teaching at the post-secondary level, and has two certificates from the McMaster MacPerson Institute for Leadership, Innovation, and Excellence in Teaching. In her first year at the UW, she has been invited to give a number of lectures to undergraduate and graduate students in the Department of Astronomy. Eadie  is a strong proponent of active-learning strategies, and recently developed an exercise for students that teaches Bayesian statistics through m&m’s candy. Since implementing the active-learning strategy in class, she and DIRAC’s Associate Director, Dr. Daniela Huppenkothen, along with collaborators McCormick and Dr. Aaron Springford (Weyerhaeuser), have co-authored a paper describing the activity. Their work has been submitted to the Journal of Statistics Education.

Eadie says that the DIRAC and eScience Institutes have been the ideal environments for an early-career academic like herself; “Both DIRAC and eScience have not only helped me strengthen my interdisciplinary skills and technical proficiency, “ Eadie says, “but have also given me the freedom to follow my academic interests, to explore areas of unique research, to develop new collaborations, and to gain experience in post-secondary teaching”.  An avid goal-setter, Eadie plans to make the most of her remaining time at the UW (her postdoctoral appointment continues through 2019), and to make progress towards her long-term career aspiration of becoming a tenured-professor in Astrophysics and/or Astrostatistics at a top university in North America.