Dr. Isabel L. Colman


Postdoctoral fellow at the American Museum of Natural History. Astrophysicist with a passion for software and peer review.

I'm a communicator as much as I'm a researcher. Some scientists communicate through outreach — for me, it's about using my high-level command of the English language to enrich my research practices and the way I share my work. (I give a great conference talk.) I feel strongly about improving the clarity and accessibility of science, with a no-frills approach. And, look, I hate all the buzzwords swarming around the concept of "leadership," but I do have experience taking charge in a work situation and making things happen. I'm a fast learner and an efficient organizer, with experience coordinating seminars and conferences.

My scientific experience is at once broad and speciailized. Broadly, I have the computer literacy of a millennial who grew up online and went on to work in a technical field. I'm particularly proficient with Linux operating systems — for bragging rights, I've handled multiple Arch installs. I can code in Python, MATLAB, IDL, C, and C++, and I can write queries in SQL. I'm also adept at building webpages, such as this one, using HTML and CSS. I have experience with collaborative coding, software development, and version control using Git.

Specifically, I've worked extensively with data products from NASA's Kepler and TESS missions, including writing my own photometry pipelines. I've written tutorials for working with these data that focus on photometry, metadata, and data quality issues. I'm comfortable doing data analysis in both the time and frequency domains, with experience in asteroseismology and stellar variability analysis.

Outside of my work, I'm a classically-trained singer and a budding film photographer. I'm passionate about art, architecture, and design. This webpage is modeled after the work of Pelican Books designers in the 60s and 70s.

I'm a postdoctoral fellow at the American Museum of Natural History. My role entails writing a software pipeline to search for signals of stellar rotation in TESS data. As an academic, I've published with Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society and the Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series, and peer reviewed for the latter as well as the Journal of Open Source Software.

In 2020, I worked as a contractor for NumFocus, writing instructional material for analysing Kepler and K2 data with the Python packages Lightkurve and Astropy. In that role, I also worked on software development for Lightkurve, helping to prepare the software for its v2.0 release, as well as contributing the framework to plot pixel image time series and frequency spectra.

I have extensive experience teaching. As a high schooler, I was a self-employed physics, maths, and English tutor. For five years, spanning my undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, I taught a wide variety of courses for the School of Physics at the University of Sydney. I was a teaching assistant for online courses in numerics and data-driven astronomy; a workshop demonstrator and nighttime observatory guide for introductory astronomy; a computer lab tutor for a wide variety of courses on introductory astronomy, stellar physics, computational physics, quantum physics, and optics; a tutor in the introductory physics experimental lab; and responsible for quality control and marking of exams.

In addition, I have significant experience as an invigilator. I worked for both the School of Physics and University-wide disability services as a one-on-one invigilator, providing a supportive environment for students with accommodations, as well as assistance as a scribe and reader. During my time working for disability services, I also worked as a tutor and lab assistant for students with disabilities. These roles have given me a thorough grounding in accessibility accommodations and software.

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

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

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


As a contributing author

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

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

A binary with a δ Scuti star and an oscillating red giant: orbit and asteroseismology of KIC 9773821, Simon Murphy et al., 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., October 2020

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

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

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

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

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

Lightkurve Sprint, May 2023

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 2023