Philosophy of Science & Astrophysics

My research in the philosophy of science focuses on the use of models and computer simulations in science, and in astrophysics in particular. I also examine issues in philosophy of astrophysics including philosophical questions related to dark matter, and astrophysical methodology more generally.

At the University of Cincinnati, I conduct this work in part through the Jacquart Astrophysics and Philosophy Interdisciplinary Teaching, Engagement, and Research Lab (J*PITER Lab). My lab consists of undergraduate astronomy majors, and philosophy graduate students, and partners with astrophysicists as well as citizen scientists. Together we undertake astronomical research while reflecting on the science’s methodology and philosophical implications. My lab also trains its members in best practices as it relates to teaching and public engagement about astronomy and philosophy. Our current main project involves developing and curating an extensive collisional ring galaxy catalogue.

This catalogue is in connection to an ongoing interdisciplinary research project on dark matter (and my prior work connected to NSF-SBE #1557138). Cosmological models predict that 25% of the universe is composed of dark matter. In addition to not knowing what dark matter is, there is no clear understanding of where most of it resides. Our group is attempting to find some of this missing dark matter. Our guiding empirical hypothesis is that at least some of the missing dark matter is in dark galaxies—galaxies that are composed entirely of dark matter. These dark galaxies have no visible matter, either because they lost it early on, or they never acquired it in the first place. We are searching for these dark galaxies, and studying how the unique blend of observation, simulation, citizen science, and theorizing warrants inferences about dark matter. As astrophysicists and philosophers working together, we hope to provide a clearer picture of how to examine, explain, and evaluate the logic of such arguments in the field of astrophysics, and provide a model for interdisciplinary work.

Not only is astrophysics one of the least studied sciences by philosophers of science, it provides an especially promising case study for core philosophical themes about empirical evidence, observation, and computer simulation. The philosophical research program connected to this astrophysical research investigates the paths of dependence between theory, observation, and computation in modern astrophysics, and the nature of astrophysical evidence more generally.

Jacquart Astrophysics and Philosophy Interdisciplinary Teaching, Engagement, and Research Lab (J*PITER Lab) Members

Prospective undergraduate and graduate students are always welcome to email me for more information about how to get involved!

Cole Miller

Undergraduate Researcher, UPRISE Scholar 2024

Cole is a UC Undergraduate, (Class of 2027) majoring in Astrophysics and minoring in Mathematics. His research interests include dark matter, stellar evolution/structures, and galaxies. He is also the president of the Cincinnati Stargazers Astronomy Club.

Angela Tang

High School Researcher

Angela is an incoming sophomore at Mason High School. She loves astronomy, and plans to major in it in the future. Specifically, Angela is interested in black holes, dark energy, and stellar evolution. Some of her other hobbies outside of science include creative writing, photography, and violin.

J*PITER Lab Member

Interested in being a Student Researcher?

Current lab members are highlighted here. Reach out if you are interested in getting involved!

Past Students

Shreya Pandey (UC Undergraduate, Class of 2027). UPRISE Summer Undergraduate Student Researcher, 2023. Majoring in Computer Engineering. Research interests in machine learning.

Prasanna Adhikari (UC Undergraduate, Class of 2024). Undergraduate Student Researcher, 2021-2022. Double majoring in astrophysics and mathematics. Research interests in dark energy, dark matter, and observational astronomy.

Henry Senturia (UC Undergraduate, Class of 2023. Currently a graduate student at University of Auckland studying astrophysics). Undergraduate Student Researcher, 2021-2023 + Physics Capstone Project. Majored in Astrophysics, certificates in Creative Writing and Deaf Studies. Research interests in exoplanets, planetary evolution, dark matter, and orbital mechanics.

Regy-Null R. Arcadia (UC Graduate Student, Philosophy Department). Graduate Student Researcher, 2021-2023. Philosophy graduate student with research interests in philosophy of science and philosophy of physics.