Hubble Ultra Deep Field (
Katherine E. Whitaker;  Image Credit: Ethan M. Tease


As an observational extragalactic astronomer, I study the formation and evolution of massive galaxies over the past eleven billion years of cosmic time. I am interested in pushing our detection of quiescent “red and dead” galaxies even earlier in time (within only a few billion years of the Big Bang itself!), as well as understanding the detailed physics of the structures and underlying stellar populations of massive galaxies. With exquisite Hubble Space Telescope imaging and spectroscopy, my collaborators and I continue to explore the rich uncharted territory of the distant universe. Our understanding of the cosmos is fundamentally tied to the study of galaxies, the birthplace of all stars and life itself.  As we reveal how galaxies are evolving from the earliest times to the present day, we are continually piecing together an intriguing timeline of the cosmos.


Contact Information

Phone: (860) 486-3259
Address: Department of Physics
University of Connecticut
2152 Hillside Road
Storrs, CT 06269-3046


  • Metivier awarded CT Space Grant Undergraduate Research Fellowship
    UConn Physics sophomore, Tyler Metivier, is the recipient of a 2017 Connecticut Space Grant Undergraduate Research Fellowship. Congratulations, Tyler!  His project, “Simulating the Detectability of Tidal Features in the Distant Universe”, will use mock galaxies from high resolution cosmological simulations to quantify how well we can recover tidal disturbances in galaxies undergoing major mergers.  Tyler […]
    Posted on October 4, 2017
  • UConn Nation joins the Physics Department for Solar Eclipse Viewing Party
    On a hot and humid summer afternoon in late August, the Moon eclipsing the Sun was visible across most of the United States. This national event drew record crowds together across the nation, where people far and wide celebrated a beautiful afternoon of science and were left in awe of natural wonders.  With anticipation of […]
    Posted on August 22, 2017

Recent Publications

Predicting Quiescence: The Dependence of Specific Star Formation Rate on Galaxy Size and Central Density at 0.5<z<2.5  Whitaker, K.E., Bezanson, R., van Dokkum, P.G., Franx, M., van der Wel, A., Brammer, G.B., Forster-Schreiber, N.M., Giavalisco, M., Labbe, I., Momcheva, I.G., Nelson, E.J., Skelton, R.E., 2017, ApJ, 838:19.

Early Science with the Large Millimeter Telescope: Detection of Dust Emission in Multiple Images of a Normal Galaxy at z>4 Lensed by a Frontier Fields Cluster  Pope, A., Montana, A., Battisti, A., Limousin, M., Marchesini, D., Wilson, G.W., Alberts, S., Aretxaga, I., Avila-Reese, V., Ramon Bermejo-Climent, J., Brammer, G., Bravo-Alfaro, H., Calzetti, D., Chary, R.-R., Cybulski, R., Giavalisco, M., Hughes, D., Kado-Fong, E., Keller, E., Kirkpatrick, A., Labbe, I., Lange-Vagle, D., Lowenthal, J., Murphy, E., Oesch, P., Rosa Gonzalez, D., Shipley, H., Stefanon, M., Vega, O., Whitaker, K.E., Williams, C.C., Yun, M., Zavala, J.A., Zeballos, M., 2017, ApJ, 838:137.

Near-infrared spectroscopy of 5 ultra-massive galaxies at 1.7<z<2.7  Kado-Fong, E., Marchesini, D., Marsan, Z.C., Muzzin, A., Quadri, R., Brammer, G.B., Bezanson, R., Labbe, I., Lundgren, B., Rudnick, G., Stefanon, M., Tal, T., Wake, D., Williams, R., Whitaker, K.E., van Dokkum, P.G., 2017, arXiv: 1702.04352.

Low Gas Fractions Connect Compact Star-forming Galaxies to their z~2 Quiescent Descendants  Spilker, J.S., Bezanson, R., Marrone, D.P., Weiner, B.J., Whitaker, K.E., Williams, C.C., 2016, ApJ, 832:19.

Galaxy Structure as a Driver of the Star Formation Sequence Slope and Scatter  Whitaker, K.E., Franx, M., Bezanson, R., Brammer, G., van Dokkum, P., Kriek, M., Labbé, I., Leja, J., Momcheva, I., Nelson, E., Rigby, J., Rix, H.-W., Skelton, R., van der Wel, A., Wuyts, S., 2015, ApJL, 811:12.

NASA Interview for Hubble 25th Anniversary; Goddard Space Flight Center; Image Credit: Wade Sisler
NASA TV Studio, Goddard Space Flight Center; Image Credit: Wade Sisler