Galaxy Illustration

Stephanie A. Podjed

~ the skies proclaim the work of His hands ~

About Me

Physics & Astronomy PhD. Candidate at Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH

Marbleized Geode Deep Blue and Gold Full Pattern Background

Hi! I'm Steph (she/her), a current graduate student in the Physics and Astronomy Department at Dartmouth College. I grew up in the Panhandle of Florida and completed my BSc. degrees at the University of Florida (go Gators!). I have varied interests when it comes to research, most especially for extragalactic astronomy. Right now, I am studying spectropolarimetry of blazars with Prof. Ryan Hickox.

While I am a complete extorverted introvert, I enjoy meeting new people and discussing all things science, STEM outreach, and what makes you uniquely you. Feel free to reach out about anything and everything, even if it's just to have someone to chat with.

Away from Wilder Hall, I also have varied interests- from walking new paths in nature, occasionally doing some hiking and swimming, to creating studio art and culinary art, to reading, learning new languages, and playing with my two cats -- more below.

Margot (black & white) and Jacques (orange) are my fur children. They have been with me since 2015 and 2017 respectively- I don't know what I would do without them. They make the hard days a little better and life is definitely more fun, interesting, and chaotic with them.

Edinburgh, Scotland

Reykjavík, Iceland

Just some of the things I enjoy doing, including learning languages, art, volunteering and travel!

V&A Waterfront, Cape Town, South Africa

Blarney Castle, Ireland

Kruger National Park, South Africa

Paris, France



Radio Loud

Broad Interests Include


BH-Galaxy Evolution




Optical Spectropolarimetry of Blazars. Accepted Apr. 18, 2024 - Corresponding to an ​optical flare event around MJD 59409, the ​continuum polarization percentage reaches a ​maximum value and displays long- and short-​tern variability. No emission line (Hγ, Hβ) ​polarization is detected at all during the study, ​indicating there probably is not a region of ​scattering near the BLR. The polarization angle ​variability likely indicates a change in the ​orientation of the magnetic fields of the jet ​with respect to our line of sight.

Multi-band Optical Photometric Variability of Quiescent and Flaring Blazars. MDM OIR color variability diagrams for [HB89] 1420+326; larger B-I value corresponds to redder color. Overall, this FSRQ displays a redder-when-brighter (RWB) trend fitting into the standard model such that the behavior is indicative of either an increase in synchrotron flux from the redder jet or, if the jet is dominating, the γ-ray flare may not have reached a high enough energy to overcome the disk luminosity.

Properties of Low-Luminosity AGN: Variability Accretion Rate, Black Hole Mass and Color. In the majority of luminosity bins, more variable AGN appear to have broader Hβ emission lines. This can be interpreted as more variable AGN having

lower accretion rates than less variable AGN, which is is consistent with findings

for more luminous QSOs (Zuo et al. 2012) and may indicate that lower accretion rates are associated with less stable accretion disk.

Curriculum Vitae

Download Full or Lite CV here


Ph.D in Physics and Astronomy

  • Dartmouth College | Sept. 2018 - present
  • Advisor: Ryan C. Hickox

Master of Science in Physics and Astronomy

  • Dartmouth College | Sept. 2018 - Sept. 2021
  • Advisor: Jedidah C. Isler

Bachelor of Science in Astronomy, Bachelor of Science in Physics

  • University of Florida | Dec. 2016
    • Summa Cum Laude (Astronomy)
    • Magna Cum Laude (Physics)
    • Minor: French and Franchophone Studies
    • 3.82 overall GPA
  • Elected to Phi Beta Kappa


FLAT @ Durham Uni., A Tale of Two Blazars (talk), ​Mar. 15, 2024

NERQUAM 31 @ URI, Optical Spectropolarimetry of ​Blazars (talk), May 25, 2023

What Drives the Growth of Black Holes?, ​Spectropolarimetry of Blazars with SALT (poster), ​Sept. 26/27, 2022

NERQUAM 30 @ UConn, Spectropolarimetry of ​Blazars with SALT (talk), May 26, 2022

HEAD 19, Spectropolarimetry of Blazars with SALT ​(poster), Mar. 13/14, 2022

AAS 237 (virtual), Spectropolarimetry of Gamma-Ray ​Active and Quiescent Blazars with SALT (poster),

Jan. 11, 2021

AAS 227, The Properties of Low-Luminosity AGN: ​Variability, Accretion Rate, Black Hole Mass and ​Color (poster). Jan. 6, 2016

17th Annual Undergraduate Research Symposium @ ​UF, The Properties of Low-Luminosity AGN: ​Variability, Accretion Rate, Black Hole Mass and ​Color (poster), March 2016


Dept. Admissions & Recruitment Committee Grad. Rep., Aug. 2023 - present

Dept. Thesis Party Planning Committee, Sept. 2019 - present

Local Organizing Committee, What Drives the Growth of Black Holes?, Sept. 2022

Graduate Christian Fellowship (GCF) Treasurer, May 2021 - Aug. 2023

Guarini Diversity Council - Student Recruitment & Retention Working Group, Sept. 2020 - Feb. 2021

Grad. Student Council Service Committee Chair, May 2021 - Apr. 2022

Grad. Student Council Social Committee C0-Chair, May 2020 - Apr. 2021

Grad Student Council Rep., Oct. 2019 - Sept. 2020

.... plus more


Perseids Program, Moosilauke Ravine Lodge, Aug. 11, 2023

Science Day, Dartmouth, Apr. 8, 2023

AAS Congressional Visit Day participant, May 2-4, 2022

Guest Astronomer, the Montshire Museum of Science, 2019 - present

Dartmouth Public Observing Overseer, Jan. 2019 - present

... plus more


Optical Spectropolarimetry of Blazars, 2020-present

Optical Variability of Quiescent and Flaring Blazars, 2018 - 2019

Properties of Low-Luminosity AGN: Variability Accretion Rate, Black Hole Mass and Color, 2015-2016

Engaging honors students in purposeful planning through a concept mapping assignment, 2013

Teaching & Trainings

Grad. Teaching Assistant, Dartmouth, Jan. 2019 - present

DCAL Future Faculty Training Series, Dartmouth, Spring 2023

Selamawit Tsehaye Teaching Award, Dartmouth, June 2023

The Chair’s Teaching Award, Dartmouth, June 2022


Creating a Culture of Care, Dartmouth, July 19, 2023

Career myIDP workshop, Dartmouth, May 17, 2023

Emotional First Aid Training, Dartmouth, Dec. 8, 2022

CIMER Mentoring Series, Dartmouth, Spring 2022

Observing Experience

SAAO 1.0m + SHOC, 7 nights

SAAO 1.0m + Makoodi, 3 nights

SAAO 1.9m, 3 nights

AO/GBO Single Dish Summer School 12m, 2 nights

MDM 1.3m + Templeton, 4 nights + 18 nights (remote)

MDM 2.4m + OSMOS, 12 nights + queue scheduling

SALT 11m (queue scheduling)

Rosemary Hill Observatory

SAAO, Sutherland, South Africa

Galaxy in Outter Space
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~ the skies proclaim the work of His hands ~

Contact Info.

Wilder Hall Rm 224

HB 6127, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH 03755