#SoCaltech: Matthew Orr


Caltech magazine has launched #SoCaltech, a social media series designed to celebrate the diverse individuals who give Caltech its spirit of excellence, ambition, and ingenuity. Meet Matthew Orr, a fourth-year graduate student in the Theoretical Astrophysics Including Relativity and Cosmology (TAPIR) group. He also serves as strategic communications chair for Caltech's Graduate Student Council.

"On one of my recent projects, I spent an hour or two at Copa Vida in Old Town Pasadena trying to work out how I thought a very specific part of the galaxy might regulate itself. I took my work back to campus when free parking was over, and I plotted it up on my laptop and compared it with real observations and the simulations our group runs, and, damn, if it didn't line right up. I was only tentatively extremely excited because, more than once, I had taken a plot to my adviser, and he'd look at it and say, 'Oh, this can't possibly be right.' So, I took some time to work through some little sanity checks before I brought it down the hall. As it turned out, it seemed to do all right at describing line-of-sight velocity dispersions, star formation rate, and star formation efficiency in galaxies, which is not something you wake up every day and do. To take a couple of lines of algebra and some intuition, and make some statements about how star factories in the universe work is, to me, pretty exciting."