Dhanesh Krishnarao (DK)

Dhanesh Krishnarao holding an armful of fruit in a grocery store

1. Can you describe your role in the SDSS collaboration and what you enjoy most about it?

I am currently the FAST Liaison / Coordinator, which means that I help runt he Faculty And Student Teams initiative. This is a ton of fun because the program goals align perfectly with my own – to help increase participation in scientific research from underrepresented groups. I get to help find new faculty and students at smaller institutions that are interested in engaging with SDSS-V data but don’t have resources or time to do so. SDSS can offer funding and support to make this happen and build lasting partnerships between these smaller institutions and larger ones that are already a part of the collaboration. 

2. Can you tell us about your educational background and how you got interested in the field of astronomy/astrophysics?

I first fell in love with space and astronomy after I went on a trip to Disney World and the Kennedy Space Center when I was 4 years old. Since then I wanted to be an astronaut and that fueled my desire to pursue astronomy and physics. I was a math and physics major in undergrad at American University in D.C. and then got my Astronomy Ph.D. in 2020 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

3. What projects are you currently working on and what are you most excited about?

I’m currently a new assistant professor at a liberal arts institution, Colorado College, where 3/4 of my time is dedicated to full time teaching at the undergraduate level. When I can, I like to study low density gas in and around galaxies, focusing on ionized gas and its physical conditions. I’m especially interested in the center of the Milky Way and gaseous environment surrounding the LMC/SMC. 

4. Can you describe how you balance work and personal life, and what advice would you give to someone just starting in the field?

I try to set strict boundaries for myself with time and take tons of breaks. As a result, I am either working very efficiently for a short burst of time, or not working at all. Rather than forcing myself to work for 8 continuous hours a day, I spend less time on concentrated working time during the day, and just take breaks to chat with people, make food, or play games when I see myself not focusing. I’d rather use my time efficiently for something than barely make progress on something. Biggest advice is to take breaks, short breaks during the day, and long breaks during the year (meaning a full week of no work) to recharge and reset.

5. Can you share with us a unique hobby or interest that you have outside of work?

I’m obsessed with Oranges (the fruit). I juice them a lot, eat/drink tons of it, and have a tattoo of an orange slice on my arm. I also used to be obsessed with the video game, Dance Dance Revolution, when I was in middle/high school. I recently picked it up again and am feeling that obsession resurface. 

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