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

As an observational extragalactic astronomer, I study galaxy formation and evolution over the past twelve billion years of cosmic time.  In addition to my position at UConn, I am also an associate faculty at the new Cosmic Dawn Center in Copenhagen, Denmark.  My students and I actively collaborate with DAWN, working towards pushing our detection of quiescent “red and dead” galaxies even earlier in time (within a billion years of the Big Bang itself!).  We would like to understand the detailed physics of the structures and underlying stellar populations of these early 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: 1-860-486-3259


Office: Gant Science Complex, P-418

Department of Physics
University of Connecticut
2152 Hillside Road
Storrs, CT 06269-3046


  • UConn Astrophysics is hiring!
    The vibrant UConn Astrophysics program is continuing to grow, with the hiring of two postdocs (in the Whitaker and Battersby research groups) and a joint tenure-track assistant professor of astrophysics position with the Center for Computational Astrophysics at the Flatiron Institute/Simons Foundation.  Please consider joining my research group!
    Posted on November 7, 2018
  • Night sky tour ignites the SPARK within
    UConn undergraduate physics majors Amelia Henkel, Sam Cutler and Tyler Metivier led a night sky tour for a group of about 30 middle school and high school aged girls at Horsebarn Hill on Thursday, July 12th.  The event was put on for SPARK, a summer residential program where young females are using math and science skills […]
    Posted on July 16, 2018

Recent Publications

The Constant Average Relationship between Dust-obscured Star Formation and Stellar Mass from z=0 to z=2.5  Whitaker, K.E., Pope, A., Cybulski, R., Casey, C.M., Pöpping, G., Yun, M., 2017, Astrophysical Journal, 850:208.

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, Astrophysical Journal, 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, Astrophysical Journal, 838:137.

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, Astrophysical Journal, 832:19.

UConn Science Salon (G.J. McCarthy / UConn Foundation)
NASA Interview for Hubble 25th Anniversary; Goddard Space Flight Center; Image Credit: Wade Sisler