Rachel Lee McClure

Rachel Lee McClure is a National Research Foundation Graduate Research Fellow pursuing her PhD at the UW -- Madison Astronomy Department in the MadAstroDynamics Group. Her research is an exploration of the formation and evolution of bars in disk galaxies throughout the universe in collaboration with advisor Prof. Elena D'Onghia. Barred spiral galaxies comprise about half of all galaxies in the local, low-redshift universe. Analytical studies have long investigated the conditions for disk stability as most uniformly rotating thin disks are unstable to bar formation. Galaxy surveys have only recently begun to reach the necessary quantity, spectroscopic richness, spatial resolution and distance needed for statistical samples required for detailed study of galaxies throughout our universe. 

McClure has set out to answer three questions within the broader field of the origin and evolution of galaxies to investigate: (1) How are the stellar populations in bars forming and evolving over time? (2) How do stellar bar resonances impact formation of other disk galaxy features?  and (3) How are the bars supported by or supporting neighboring star formation? Through this research, we plan to understand the formation and evolution of bars by bringing together simulation results with spatially resolved observational surveys of galaxies.

She is dedicated to utilizing her privilege as a co-conspirator through sustainable work towards a more equitable experience for anyone interested in pursuing astronomy.

McClure is currently seeking long-term positions at academic institutions that prioritize and value progressive teaching practices. She is excited about future research prospects connecting local resolved IFU observations of galaxies to upcoming JWST and Roman observations in the earlier universe.