Board Member, 2022
Dr Sabrina Stierwalt is an extragalactic astrophysicist and an Assistant Professor of Physics at Occidental College in the heart of Los Angeles. She earned a double bachelor’s degree in Physics and Astronomy from the University of California, Berkeley and a Ph.D. in Astrophysics from Cornell University. Sabrina was the first astronomer to be awarded the L'Oreal For Women in Science US Fellowship and was later named a L'Oreal International Rising Talent. Since joining the Occidental faculty in 2019, Sabrina has created new courses on cosmology and renewable energy, as well as taught fun physics classics like quantum mechanics and advanced electricity & magnetism.
Sabrina researches nearby merging galaxies to understand the physics of what happens when galaxies collide, including how stars and galaxies formed throughout the universe's history. She uses data from space-based telescopes like Hubble, Spitzer, and XMM-Newton, along with data from ground-based telescopes like ALMA, the VLA, and Magellan. Most recently, she was awarded a multi-year grant from the National Science Foundation to conduct the first systematic study of the gas dynamics and star formation in interacting dwarf galaxies, smaller galaxies which are the building blocks of more massive ones like our Milky Way. Throughout her career, Sabrina has worked to make science and the stars more accessible. She hosted a weekly science podcast called Everyday Einstein for six years and has dozens of general science articles published in Scientific American. She produced videos highlighting NASA mission results and ran community star parties for NASA's Universe of Learning. She currently runs a program to bring an inflatable planetarium to communities across Los Angeles that are under-represented in STEM. Since being a bridge program participant herself, she has mentored undergraduate researchers through the National Astronomy Consortium, the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation, and the Occidental Undergraduate Research Center. Sabrina is a Girl Scout troop leader, a frequent volunteer in LAUSD Title I elementary schools, and a mom.