Tim McKay




My scientific research focuses on fundamental questions of observational astrophysics and cosmology. What is the nature and distribution of dark and luminous matter in the Universe? What processes drive the formation and evolution of structure? How has the global expansion of the universe changed with time? We explore these questions through several lines of research, but especially through observations of galaxy clusters.

My graduate students have cataloged tens of thousands of galaxy clusters using data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. Cross-correlating these cluster locations with weak lensing shear maps, X-ray observations, and galaxy redshift surveys allows us to precisely determine the relation between cluster galaxies and the masses of their dark matter halos. Interpreting these observations is complex. As a result, we work closely with Professor Gus Evrard’s structure formation simulation group to help generate mock universes. ‘Observing’ these mocks exactly as we do the real universe gives us unique insights into the complex relationships between dark matter mass and observables like shear and galaxy velocity.

I also work on a team with a number of other Michigan Physics faculty on the Dark Energy Survey (DES). The DES team is constructing a large new camera for the 4m telescope at the Cerro Tololo Interamerican Observatory in Chile. DES optical observations will be used in conjunction with the South Pole Telescope (SPT) Sunyaev-Zeldovich imager to detect galaxy clusters at very high redshift over a 4000 square degree region of the southern sky. Observations will begin in 2012.

I am actively seeking undergraduate and graduate students to work on galaxy cluster analysis projects.

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Oct 4th 2016

This MOOC offers a flexible, collaborative introduction to learning analytics in higher education. You’ll learn by doing, using realistic data and code. Everyone involved in higher education has questions. Students want to know how they’re doing and which classes they should take.

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Oct 5th 2015

Everyone in education has questions – Practical Learning Analytics is about answering them. To be practical, we’ll focus on data every university records; to keep things interesting, we’ll examine questions raised by many audiences; to ensure impact, we’ll provide realistic data and example code.

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