Rachael Lynn Beaton

PhD Candidate
Jefferson Foundation Graduate Fellow

Contact Information:

  • Email: rlb9n (at) virginia (dot) edu
  • Phone: (434) 924 - 4904
  • Office: Room 106

Quick Links:

Photos (Flickr)
ASTR512: Clock Lab Photo Journal
ASTR512: Dewar Games Photo Journal

I am a 7th year/graduating year Ph.D. candidate at the University of Virginia.

I was once one of two TA's for ASTR313, the introductory observational astronomy course for majors and for many years, on Thursday evening I operated the 26-inch Clark Refractor for the ASTR121 and ASTR124 Telescope Labs (see my photos here: McCormick Observatory). Since I am near to completing my dissertation research, I spend most of my time writing and managing, and am usually found in my office (and not at a telescope or in a lab).

I graduated in May 2007 from UVA with a B.A. Astronomy-Physics and Mathematics (graduate prep program) as an Echols and College Science Scholar. For many years I have worked with Steven R. Majewski on a number of imaging projects related to picking apart the structure of our own and nearby galaxies. The bulk of my work has centered on the Andromeda Spiral Galaxy (M31), including the discovery and modelling of an inner bar in the disk of M31 using the 6x 2MASS extension survey as well as the discovery of a new dwarf Spheroidal galaxy in the outer most regions of M31's halo (AndXIV).

Currently, I am working in the SPLASH collaboration applying the Washington + DD051 photometric giant selection method to the outer regions of M31's stellar halo and leading the new phase of this project to use AGB stars as tracers of intermediate age star formation. When M31 is not in the sky, I obtain deep imaging of Local Volume galaxies looking for low surface brightness tidal streams. Within the Majewski Group at UVA, I also participate in studies of the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds (with David Nidever), the structure of the Milky Way (Open Clusters: with Gail Zasowski, Joleen Carlberg, and Guillermo Damke, Bar: with Gails Zasowski), and I dabble in projects using data from APOGEE.

In the rare moments when I am not working on Astronomy, I enjoy being outside, most recently fly fishing or rock climbing with my partner/boyfriend Charles Romero (who studies the structure of Galaxy Clusters). Much of my "free" time goes into mentoring undergraduates in research projects and developing K-12 STEM content, which while technically being 'work' is something I find incredibly fulfilling. I am an avid photographer (links above), experimental home cook, and love crafting gifts for my friends and family. I grew up on a 400 acre farm in Southern Virginia, where my father manages a wholesale nursery, and, as such, am surrounded by plants in my home. I have a precoious hound mix, Ginny, who can often be found under my desk at my office in the Astronomy Department.

I also (clearly) like bare bones html ;).

My CV is summarized below, but the full version is available as a PDF. My full publications list can be accessed from the link to ADS (below) or as a PDF or for a quick review, see my written summary of previous research.

Education Background:
  • Summer 2007 - Present: Jefferson Foundation Fellow in Astronomy, UVa
  • May 2007: B.A. with High Distinction; Astronomy-Physics, Mathematics, UVa
  • May 2003: Valedictorian, Altavista High School; Central Virginia Governor's School for Science & Technology
Research Experience:
  • May 2012 - Present: M31AGES: M31 Asymptotic Giant Exploration Survey; Co-PI with Raja Guhathakurta
    • June 2007 - Present: Spectroscopic and Photometric Landscape of Andromeda's Stellar Halo (SPLASH); Advisor: Steven R. Majewski, UVa
    • June 2006 - March 2007: Virginia Space Grant Consortium Undergraduate Scholar - The Gravitational Harrassment of our Dwarf Galactic Neighbors; with Steven R. Majewski, UVa
    • March 2006: Visitor, University of Marseille with E. Athanassoula; Unravelling the Bar in M31
    • June 2005 - June 2006: Harrison Undergraduate Research Scholar - The Gravitational Harrassment of our Dwarf Galactic Neighbors; with Steven R. Majewski, UVa
    • December 2003 - Present: Halo SubStructure Research Group (Various Projects); Advisor - Steven R. Majewski
Teaching Experience:
  • Consultant: Astr3130: Observational Astronomy Fall 2011 with Amanda Kepley.
  • Awarded the "All-University Graduate Teaching Award" May 2011 from the Teaching Resource Center at UVA (1 in Phys.Sci. annually)
  • Awarded the University Graduate Teaching Award for Astronomy
  • Senior Teaching Assistant: ASTR3130: Observational Astronomy Fall 2010 with Kelsey Johnson.
  • Instructor: ASTR3480: Introduction to Cosmology Summer 2010
  • Teaching Assitant: ASTR3480: Introduction to Cosmology Spring 2010 with John Hawley.
  • Awarded "Lawrence Fredrick Award for Excellence in Teaching" Winter 2010 by the UVA Astronomy Department Teaching Committee.
  • Teaching Assitant: ASTR5110: Astronomical Techniques Fall 2009 (Graduate Level) with Steven R. Majewkski.
  • Teaching Assitant: ASTR130: Introduction to Astronomical Observation Spring 2009 with Steven R. Majewkski.
  • Junior Teaching Assitant: ASTR313: Observational Astronomy Fall 2008 with Steven R. Majewkski.
  • Dark Skies, Bright Kids: Elementary School Weekly "Club"
  • Snapshots of the Universe: Bilingual Astronomy Art Book
  • Research Mentor Partnership with Central Virginia Governor's School (2012 AAS, 2013 AAS, 2014 AAS)
  • Research Mentor for Several Undergraduates & Young Researchers
  • UVA Public Nights & NRAO Open Houses
  • Being my nerdy self at non-nerdy functions and unleashing the nerditude in others!
(Some) Recent Publications:
  • All Publications via NASA ADS (aka self updating publication list!)
  • Discovery of Andromeda XIV: A Dwarf Spheroidal Dynamical Rogue in the Local Group?
    Majewski, S. R., Beaton, R. L., Patterson, R. J., Kalirai, J. S., Geha, M. C., Munoz, R. R., Sigar, M. A., Guhathakurta, P., Bullock, J., Rich, R. M., Gilbert, K. M. and Reitzel, D. B.
  • Unveiling the Boxy Bulge and Bar of the Andromdea Spiral Galaxy
    Beaton, R. L., Majewski, S. R., Guhathakurta, P., Skrutskie, M. F., Cutri, R. M., Good, J., Patterson, R. J., Athanassoula, E., Bureau, M. 2007
  • Unravelling the mystery of the M31 bar
    Athanassoula, E., Beaton, R. L. 2006, MNRAS, 370, 1499
  • Unveiling the Boxy Bulge and Bar of the Andromeda Spiral Galaxy
    Beaton, R. L., Athanassoula, E., Majewski, S. R., Guhathakurta, P., Skrutskie, M. F., Patterson, R. J., Bureau, M. 2005, Ame rican Astronomical Society Abstracts, 207
Observing Experience:
  • KPNO 4-meter with Mosaic: 6 nights Fall 2005, 6 night Fall 2006, 8 nights Fall 2007, 5 nights Fall 2009 (PI), 5 nights Fall 2010 (PI)
  • KPNO 4-meter with NEWFIRM: 40 nights granted as an NOAO Survey Program, M31-AGE (Co-PI with Guhathakurta)
  • CTIO 4-meter with Mosaic II: 3 nights Summer 2007 (with David Nidever)
  • Green Bant Telescope + L band: 80 hours, Spring 2013 (with Erik Tollerud and Amanda Kepley)
  • SAO MMT with Hectospec: 3 nights Fall 2005, 3 nights Fall 2006, 2007, 2011, 2013 (15 total)
  • ARC 3.5-meter: SPICAM (PI): 1 night Fall 2007, TripleSpec (PI): 1 night Summer 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009
  • ARC 3.5-meter: Trained 12 students with ASTR5110 Fall 2009 with Professor S.R. Majewski.
  • Large Binocular Telescope with LBC & LUCIFER(PI): On Site Jan & Mar 2010 (12 nights total); Numerous projects queue observed since 2007
  • Vatican Advanced Technology Telescope with VATT4k imager: ~10 days per year co-observing with Anne Verbiscer
  • Keck II with DEIMOS: 8 half nights on site Fall 2009, 4 half nights Fall 2011 (With UCSC & UCI SPLASH team)
  • Gemini N with GMOS-N: 3 nights on site Summer 2009 (with Tony Sohn & Ricardo Munoz)
  • ... and hopefully much more to come!
Fun News Articles: