Stella Koch Ocker

Astronomy & Space Sciences


I received a B.A. with High Honors in Physics from Oberlin College in 2018. My undergraduate research focused on the scintillation of signals from pulsars, extremely dense, highly magnetized neutron stars with radio wave beams that sweep across the sky like lighthouses. At Cornell I work with Prof. Jim Cordes and Dr. Shami Chatterjee on pulsars, fast radio bursts, and the interstellar medium (ISM). My interests range from using pulsars to model the distribution and turbulent behavior of plasma in the Galactic ISM to characterizing the host environments and intergalactic medium through which extragalactic radio bursts propagate.  My research also looks closer to home: using the Voyager mission’s plasma wave experiment, I study turbulence in the very local ISM just outside of our Solar System. As part of the Nanohertz Observatory for Gravitational Waves (NANOGrav), we apply our knowledge of the ISM near and far to the effort to detect gravitational waves with pulsar timing at nanosecond precision.

Research Focus

Advisor: Professor Jim Cordes