Carnegie Mellon University

Ashley Disbrow

Ashley Disbrow (S 2014)

Physics major, Space Camp attendee, water polo player


From space camp to quasars: student pursues origins of universe

Last week, after finishing her quantum physics exam, Ashley Disbrow moved on to her next task of the day: working towards a better understanding of stars, galaxies, and the origins of the universe.

Disbrow, a sophomore in the physics department, is currently working on a project analyzing redshift distributions of quasars in the universe from data collected at the Apache Point Observatory in Sunspot, N.M. In other words, she is determining the positions of thousands of luminous, highly energetic galaxies relative to each other.

A better understanding of this kind of data can help scientists draw more concise conclusions about the origins of the universe. Disbrow’s work is supervised by Shirley Ho, an assistant professor of physics.

Disbrow is passionate about physics and cosmology, and explained that the continuous explorations in these fields have come to define part of who she is today.

“I’ve always had hobbies in astronomy through middle and high school,” Disbrow said. “I wanted to pursue that as a major.... I thought that would be a great thing to do for my job in the future.”

She recalled her time as an eighth grader running through mission simulations at Space Camp in Huntsville, Ala. She pointed out that after the experience, she decided she “wanted to be an astronaut.” This interest ultimately led to Disbrow’s current position as an undergraduate majoring in and researching physics at Carnegie Mellon.

So what does a typical day in the field look like for this researcher? MORE

By: Benjamin Madueme, The Tartan, April 2, 2012

Photo by Jonathan Carreon for The Tartan.