Jessica Werk studies the extended gaseous components of galaxies and the role they play in galaxy formation and evolution. She is primarily an observational astronomer with expertise in optical and ultraviolet spectroscopy, and uses both ground and space-based telescopes to carry out her research. She works closely with theorists in defining observational constraints for cosmological simulations (such as those generated in the UW N-body shop), and in physically interpreting her own observations.
Professor Werk’s current research focuses on the “invisible” ionized gas of galaxies in two largely unexplored regimes: (1) the dark-matter halo and (2) the disk-halo interface. Ultimately, she would like to understand the complex galactic ecosystems in which baryons cycle through many physical phases over hundreds of kiloparsecs, from the interiors of stars to the intergalactic medium.
Outside of astronomy, she enjoys strenuous hikes up tall mountains, duplicate bridge, and singing Puccini arias to her dog.