Who’s Who at the Lab-David Rabinowitz

David Rabinowitz
Senior Research Scientist

What do you do here at Wright Lab

I build imaging systems for telescopes, study dark energy, and explore the outer solar system.  This work began when I joined Charlie Baltay’s group more than 20 years ago to help build an extremely large digital camera to find quasars, detect supernovae, and search for distant bodies in our own solar system. I am  interested in supernovae because they are amazing astrophysical phenomena, and because we can use them to measure the expansion history of the universe and the properties of dark energy. I am  interested in the distant solar system because the small planets out there have a fascinating dynamical history. They preserve an imprint of  the forces affecting our solar system’s evolution near the time of its formation. Most recently we contributed a critical imaging system to the Dark Energy Spectrocopic Instrument (DESI), which explores dark energy by measuring the spatial distribution of  distant galaxies as a function of redshift

What is the most unique and/or exciting experience you’ve had here at Wright Lab?

Scientifically, the effort to make the DESI instrument a success has been most rewarding.  However, the experience of moving our lab out of the disintegrated Gibbs buillding into the new working environment at Wright Lab may be the most unique. It has been a learning experience to participate in this transition and a pleasure to observe the cohesion of the group around a common purpose.

What are you personally working on in regards to the Wright Lab COVID-response efforts?

On the covid19 channel of the Wright Lab slack workspace, we are responding to a request from local nurses to develop an accurate way to use non-contact thermometers. We are looking into calibration systems and sensor types. Not sure where this will lead, but we are working on concepts.

What is something that people might not know about you that you’d like to share with the community?

I come from a family of artists, and I was raised in a very creative household. This had its pluses and minuses. But it is the reason I am interested in imaging technology, and analysis of visual data.

Where do you like to work remotely?

In recent years, I have worked remotely from my office in Wright Lab most of the time because the instruments I am developing are installed on distant mountain-top observatories. That is really my favorite place because I enjoy talking to and working next to others at the lab. But I have to say that I recently went to Hawaii to observe with the Keck Telescope, and all operations were conduced remotely from the observing center in Waimea. That was awesome.  My current workspace is pictured, below.