Nicholas McConnell


Plaskett Fellow
Dominion Astrophysical Observatory

Phone:   +1 250 363-0071
Email:   n.j.mcconnell [at] gmail [dot] com
Personal Website:
Ph.D.   2012, UC Berkeley

CV (August 2016)

Research Interests:
The largest galaxies in today’s universe are giant ellipticals, “red and dead” relics from a past era of cosmic mayhem. Their ancestors likely hosted the most vigorous star formation and most violent black hole growth in the cosmos, corresponding to the brightest galaxies and quasars observed in the high-redshift universe. I am leading multiple projects to observe the universe’s most massive galaxies and black holes and address questions such as:

  • Do these galaxies’ stellar motions point to a unique history of collisions?
  • Did their supermassive black holes grow in advance of their stellar components, and were they the primary agents in expelling gas and quenching star formation?
  • Do the chemical abundance patterns in their stars reflect normal star formation over multiple generations of chemical enrichment, or do they reveal unique variants of star formation physics driven by extreme environments?

I seek insight to these issues by examining nearby elliptical galaxies with unprecedented detail, often via optical and near-infrared spectroscopy. My latest work includes an expanded census of massive galaxies’ central black hole masses, and an investigation into spatial variations in the abundances of individual elements and possibly the stellar initial mass function. More details are available on my personal webpage.

I received my Ph.D. degree from the University of California at Berkeley in 2012.
I was the Parrent Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Hawaii from 2012-2015.