Dr. Isabel L. Colman


Astrophysicist. Postdoctoral fellow at the American Museum of Natural History. Passionate about stars, software, and scientific writing.

Grayscale image of a woman pointing a camera at her reflection.I'm a postdoctoral fellow at the American Museum of Natural History (2021–present), and the PI on a grant that was selected for funding as part of NASA's ROSES 2023 call for proposals, under the Astrophysics Data Analysis program. I have a PhD in Astronomy (2016–2020) and a Bachelor of Science (Advanced) with Honours in Physics and a second major in mathematics (2012–2015), both from the University of Sydney. (An honours program, in Australia, is a one-year intensive study course equivalent to a Masters degree.)

I began my astronomical research in asteroseismology, the study of stellar oscillations, and ended up specializing in developing innovative data science approaches to solving problems in stellar astrophysics. I use data from NASA's Kepler, K2, and TESS missions to identify and analyze variable stars — anything where you can detect changes in brightness over time. This has brought me from asteroseismology to stellar rotation and binary star systems. I've also written a software pipeline to perform image subtraction photometry on Kepler data, with an adaptation for TESS currently in progress — and a K2 version is in the works too.

I also have a broad range of academic experience outside of research. In 2020, I worked as a contractor for Lightkurve, a Python package for TESS/Kepler data analysis. I gained experience as a professional software developer, and wrote user tutorials. I've mentored students, and have five years of experience teaching at the University of Sydney. I also spent five years working as a scribe, reader, and invigilator for students who required special accommodations for exams. I'm highly skilled at scientific writing and I've peer reviewed extensively.

Outside of my work, I'm a classically-trained choral singer and a film photographer, printing at the Hamilton Heights Darkroom. I'm into art, architecture, and design. This webpage is modeled after the work of Pelican Books designers in the 60s and 70s.

PhD — The Sydney Institute for Astronomy, University of Sydney (2016–20); supervised by Timothy Bedding and Daniel Huber

PhD thesis: Pixels, photometry, and population studies: variable stars across four years of Kepler data, accepted June 2020

BSc (Adv) (Hons. Physics) — University of Sydney (2012–15); double major in physics and applied mathematics

As first author

Methods for the detection of stellar rotation periods in individual TESS sectors and results from the Prime mission, accepted for publication in AJ

The Kepler IRIS Catalog: Image Subtraction Light Curves for 9150 Stars in and around the Open Clusters NGC 6791 and NGC 6819, ApJS, February 2022

Evidence for compact binary systems around Kepler red giants, MNRAS, August 2017


As a contributing author

Discovery of post-mass-transfer helium-burning red giants using asteroseismology, Yaguang Li et al., Nature Astronomy, April 2022

Further Evidence of Modified Spin-down in Sun-like Stars: Pile-ups in the Temperature-Period Distribution, Trevor David et al., ApJ, March 2022

A binary with a δ Scuti star and an oscillating red giant: orbit and asteroseismology of KIC 9773821, Simon Murphy et al., MNRAS, August 2021

The effect of tides on near-core rotation: analysis of 35 Kepler γ Doradus stars in eclipsing and spectroscopic binaries, Gang Li et al., MNRAS, October 2020

Very regular high-frequency pulsation modes in young intermediate-mass stars, Tim Bedding et al., Nature, May 2020

A search for red giant solar-like oscillations in all Kepler data, Marc Hon et al., MNRAS, June 2019

The Curious Case of KOI 4: Confirming Kepler’s First Exoplanet Detection, Ashley Chontos et al., AJ, May 2019

Échelle diagrams and period spacings of g modes in γ Doradus stars from four years of Kepler observations, Tim Bedding et al., conference paper, September 2015

K 1-6: An Asymmetric Planetary Nebula with a Binary Central Star, David Frew et al., PASA, March 2011



Lightkurve v2.0.9, March 2021

Lightkurve tutorials: custom photometry, instrumental noise #1, instrumental noise #2, instrumental noise #3, instrumental noise #4, signal verification



Kepler's final exoplanet discovery revealed, March 2019

What a gas, students join astronomy's stars, September 2010

TASC 7/KASC 14 Workshop, July 2023 — presented a talk (view on Youtube)

Cool Stars 21, July 2022

Fifty Years of the Skumanich Relations, March 2022 — presented a talk

online.tess.science, September 2020

TESS Ninja 3, February 2020

TESS Science Conference I, July 2019

TASC5/KASC12 Workshop, July 2019 — presented a talk

First Light in a new Era of Astrophysics, TASC4/KASC11 Workshop, July 2018 — presented a talk

Planets in Peculiar Places, April 2018 — member of local organising committee

Statistical Challenges in Astronomy, December 2017

Inaugural Stars in Sydney meeting at Macquarie University, November 2017 — presented a talk

IVth Azores International Advanced School in Space Sciences, July 2016

Seismology of the Sun and Distant Stars, July 2016 — presented a poster

5th Australian Exoplanet Workshop, December 2015

ILC 2024