Brian W. O'Shea - Join the group!

join us! research
cv / bio

I am interested in working with researchers at all levels, and have projects (and funding support) appropriate for doing so. I suggest looking at my research page to see short descriptions of my current areas of interest. If you also find one or more of those areas interesting, please email me to set up a time to talk!

My research group is highly interactive by design, and I am strongly supportive of my group members pursuing both the research and career paths that are most interesting to them. I meet with my students and postdocs weekly to discuss science, progress on research efforts, and to problem solve. We also deliberately set aside time in these meetings roughly once a year to talk about career interests, professional development, networking, and other related topics, and to ensure that the research and other activities that they are pursuing are aligned with their career interests. We have weekly group meetings that include (but are not limited to) presentations, discussions about science, research ethics, or software development techniques, writing sessions, and tutorials. In addition, members of the group often collaborate with other as well as with me and I encourage members of the group to help each other with their scientific and technical challenges.

Undergraduate students

My research group has included many undergraduate students, who are typically MSU students or students coming to us through the Physics & Astronomy or ACRES Research Experience for Undergraduate Students programs. These students receive training in some combination of computational astrophysics or plasma physics, high performance computing, data visualization, data science techniques, and open source software development, and participate in a research project mentored by one of the more senior members of the group (which could be me, a doctoral student, or a postdoctoral researcher). Previous undergrad group members have authored or co-authored peer-reviewed journal articles, have created open source software packages, and have presented posters or talks about their work at a variety of conferences. In general, students start in the group having completed CMSE 201 (or equivalent Python programming experience) and taken one or more semesters of introductory calculus and physics.

Graduate students

My goal for the graduate students in my lab is to help them become well-rounded computational scientists who are well-positioned for whatever career path is of interest to them. In addition to helping students develop their (astro)physical, mathematical, and computational skills and pursuing a program of research in astrophysics, plasma physics, numerical method development, and/or scientific software development, I believe it is important to develop additional professional skills. This includes skills relating to teaching, giving presentations to audiences of varying backgrounds, networking, collaboration, mentoring, and modern software development, which will increase graduate students' competitiveness in the job market and effective in their career of choice.

At present, I am looking for doctoral students interested in galaxy evolution, computatational plasma physics (including the intersection of plasma modeling and machine learning/artificial intelligence), and exascale code development. Interested students should email me to discuss opportunities, and should plan to apply to either the Astrophysics or Computational Mathematics, Science and Engineering doctoral program, as appropriate (they have deadlines in mid-December or early January for August admission; CMSE also accepts applications in the summer for January admission). I am also highly interested in working with applicants or current students who are interested in developing applications for national fellowships such as the NSF GRFP or DOE CSGF! Given that all doctoral projects in my research group involve substantial computational components (often including numerical method implementation and software development), students that are successful in my research group have a strong computational background in addition to an undergraduate degree in astrophysics, physics, and/or applied mathematics. In this context, a "strong computational background" typically includes expertise in Python, C++ or a similar compiled programming language, and some experience writing code to solve a scientific problem of any sort.

Postdoctoral researchers

My goal for postdoctoral researchers is to provide them the space and opportunity to pursue exciting research projects that are closely aligned with the work done in my research group, generally in collaboration with some subset of the group's members. In addition, I think it is crucial to provide postdoctoral researchers with opportunities to further refine their professional skills and to participate in activities including mentoring of undergraduate and graduate students, developing and writing grants, teaching (typically one course module, rather than a whole course!), and developing their professional networks. The goals in doing so are to help postdoctoral researchers identify their strengths, weaknesses, and interests, and also building up their experiences so that they can be compelling candidates for positions in any career that interests them.

At present, I am pursuing funding for postdoctoral researchers working in areas relating to galaxy evolution, the modeling of astrophysical and terrestrial plasmas, and in exascale code development. I am also happy to work with potential postdocs who are interested in developing a Hubble/Chandra or NSF AAPF application to come to Michigan State University! If you are interested in working with me, please email me to arrange a time to discuss potential areas of collaboration!

Visting scientists

I welcome collaborations with scientists who are interested in visiting Michigan State University to collaborate with me and my research group on any number of projects relating to galaxy evolution, plasma physics, and open source software development. If you have an interesting idea or burning question we would be delighted to share our space, experience, and resources with you in its pursuit. Visitors to the group have stayed for amounts of time ranging from a week to several months. Having your own funding would be the most straightforward way to make this happen - however, there are some potential funding sources that you could apply to (or we may be able to apply for together) in order to support your visit. Please email me to discuss this!