Physics and Astronomy
Aparna  Venkatesan

Aparna Venkatesan

Associate Professor

Hello! I am currently an associate professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of San Francisco. Please visit my GENERAL WEBSITE HERE for more details on my research, undergraduate projects, CV, recent awards and press etc.

Recent awards and grants include a Cottrell College Science Award from Research Corporation (2010-2013), a USF Jesuit Foundation Grant (2012), and a Dean's Scholar Award at USF for 2012-2013.

My scientific interests lie primarily in theoretical cosmology, including studies of the first stars and quasars in the universe, cosmological reionization (particularly helium reionization), cosmic element synthesis, the cosmic microwave background, the physics and chemistry of gas in the early universe, dark matter, and gravitational lensing. I have also worked in high-energy astrophysics (gamma-ray bursts and cosmic rays) and planetary astronomy as an undergraduate and graduate student. My current work ranges from the above cosmology topics to projects in the fields of dark stars and astrobiology.

Undergraduate Research: I am currently working with two physics major (and astrophysics minor) students, Chris Downing and Long Yan Yung, on a variety of theory cosmology projects, as well as projects in radio astronomy through the ALFALFA Collaboration using 21 cm observations on the world's largest radio telescope, the 305-meter Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico. Long Yan Yung is the 2012 recipient of the USF Arthur Furst scholarship award for his research.

Past students include Haley Sharp (now in graduate school, San Diego State) and Yue Zhao and Yang Wang (graduate school, UCLA).

I joined USF's physics department in Fall 2006 to help expand the astronomy and astrophysics program. Through the introduction of new astronomy and astrophysics courses over the last few years, and the upgrading of our observing facilities, we now have new two undergraduate minors (astronomy, and astrophysics) as of Fall 2009. More details are now available on the departmental website.


Ph.D., University of Chicago

Research Areas

Theoretical Astrophysics, Cosmology, First Stars, Dark Stars, Cosmic Element Synthesis, Microwave Background, Astrobiology