Featured Astronomy Alumni: Kaitlin Kratter21 Feb 2020
Kaitlin, who was one of our most gifted and enthusiastic graduate students, is currently an Associate Professor at the Department of Astronomy and Steward Observatory, University of Arizona. As our grad student at UofT, she held the prestigious Connaught Fellowship and later, as a postdoctoral fellow at University of Colorado Boulder, the Hubble Fellowship. Kaitlin kindly agreed to answer a few questions for our newsletter.
Could you briefly tell us about yourself? What would be the first thing you would like people to know about you?
I’m a professor of astronomy. When I’m not at work, I love being outside (running, hiking, skiing). I share my home with my husband, our daughter, a dog, and a Torontonian cat who is thoroughly enjoying his retirement in sunny Tucson, along with many like-minded Canadian snowbirds.
photo credit: Mamta Popat /Arizona Daily Star
When were you part of the DADDAA graduate program? Why did you go U of T instead of other schools?
I was a graduate student from 2005-2010. I chose UofT because of the dynamic young faculty, the ability to start research immediately upon matriculation, and the flexibility to work with multiple advisors before deciding on a thesis. I was also very enthusiastic about moving to Toronto — I wanted to live in a big city and get out of the US for a while.
Where are you now? What is your area of focus? Could you briefly tell us about your new research projects?
I’m an associate professor in the astronomy department at University of Arizona. I work on a variety of theoretical problems related to star formation, planet formation, binary stars, and accretion discs. I’m currently working on a few projects that use the properties of circumbinary planets to constrain binary formation models and tidal evolution models.
What did you value the most about your years with DADDAA?
I loved my time in grad school in Toronto. I feel like I was provided with the necessary opportunities and resources to develop and grow as a scientist. I was lucky to not only have a great working relationship with my thesis advisor, but I also relied heavily on my graduate student peers and CITA postdocs— both for research and moral support. I fondly remember studying for the oral prelim with my office mates. I definitely worked hard as a grad student, and it wasn’t always easy, but I really loved it.
Do you have any memorable moments you can share about your experience at DADDAA?
It’s hard to pick a single moment. One of my favorite regular work activities was the fluids journal club at CITA on Thursdays. Many of the papers I read for those group meetings have proved useful to me throughout my career. On the more social side of things, early in grad school I organized a lot of Friday night outings that ended at Amnesia (not with amnesia). I also recall my immense joy when the Coffee Time at College and Spadina became a Tim Horton’s.
What advice would you give to our students who are hoping to build a career in Astronomy?
Take advantage of the vast resources available to you at UofT. Push yourself out of your comfort zone, both intellectually and socially. Take advantage of the many visiting scientists and go out to dinner with them when you can (I’m hoping colloquium dinner is still hosted by the students…). And don’t forget to ask questions at colloquium!