Sky Surveys & Physics

James T. Annis

James Annis
Senior Scientist / Professional CV / Biography / Image
Experimental Astrophysics Group
Fermilab Center for Particle Astrophysics
Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory

MS 127, P.O.Box 500
Batavia, IL, 60510

Tel. (630)-840-5181
E-mail: annis at
Feel free to call me, I like the phone better than email

Mentoring: I work with many students during the year. In particular, the 7th floor is usually full of students during the summer. Interested in current cosmology using sky surveys or the future of gravitational wave cosmology? Talk to me; maybe there is a place for you on the 7th floor of Fermilab's Wilson Hall, home of the experimental astrophysicists.

I study astronomy and cosmology using sky surveys, first the SDSS, now the DES, soon DESI and LSST. Clusters of galaxies allow cosmology to be derived and/or structure formation to be checked; LRG are the galaxy counterparts to clusters; stacked weak lensing of both allows masses to be assigned; correlation functions allow tight connection to simulations. Much can be done with imaging; much can be done with spectroscopy; all are best done, in these decades, with large scale sky surveys.

Research: my current obsessions are optical followup of aLigo gravitational wave sources, microlensing as a means of detecting primordial black holes, cluster galaxy content and evolution as a tool for cluster cosmology, cross-correlating DES cluster catalogs with Planck and SPT thermal SZ maps and DES weak lensing catalog for cluster cosmology, and the cosmological computational tools Cosmosis and WLpipe.

If grey-eyed Athena loved you
the way she did Odysseus in the old days
in Troy country, where we all went through so much...

I grew up in Spokane, Washington, over in the ponderosa pine ecosystem of the Rocky Mountains. I went to college in Seattle, Washington on the Puget Sound amongst the volcanoes of the West. I studied in graduate school in Honolulu, Hawaii, pearl of the Pacific, where the moon rose in the wrong place and the mountains tilted wildly off-axis.

I ask the gods deliverance from these pains, this watching; for a whole year's length I have lain muzzle to paws, doglike, on the Atreids' roof, learning to know the parliment of the night--

The SDSS: Fresh from graduate school in 1993 I came to Fermilab to work on the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, one of the first generation of postdocs to work on that project. I was there at first light when 20 PhDs crowded into the room and Jim Gunn walked the deck as we sought Polaris through the night.

There is an infinite nature from which the lovely order of the skies and all the world arises, from which all things come and on this causeway go to end, for given to all things are Justice and a price to pay one another for injustice as the laws of time.

The DES: Around 2003 it became clear that Fermilab needed to learn how to build a big camera. Brenna Flaugher, Tom Diehl, Juan Estrada did it brilliantly and the camera is at the center of the DES now operating at the Blanco telescope in Chile. We are using it to study dark energy and modified gravity though a multiband imaging survey of the southern extragalactic sky.

In the future: DESI, another 3-d map of the universe, LSST/DESC, the next generation of mass mapping the universe, and the next generation of gravitational wave detectors.

My family and myself: My wife Shu-i Wang and I live in a suburb of a suburb, Winfield, suburb of Wheaton, suburb of Chicago, sometimes with our twins Marissa and Christopher, who now spend more time at University of Chicago.

I love espresso, old books, books that make me turn the page, and books with new ideas. My ancestors have been in America since the English Civil wars of the 1650's and were immigrants from Germany in the late 1880s; my children have ancestors who fled China to Taiwan as the Communists took power.

History is us.

As my fanboy module is intact, admiration and adulation to-
-- Jim Gunn for showing us how science should be done.
-- David Brin for the theory of the gray men and the uplifted dolphins
-- William Gibson for the Blue Ant triology
-- Robert Bringhurst for typology and Haida translations
-- JPL for the somehow overlooked exploration of the solar system
-- Fermilab for the insanity and madness of designing the Tevatron's counter-rotating beams of protons and anti-protons and making it work.
-- the British Museum for caretaking the world's treasures
-- The Marine Biology Laboratory for studying the aliens already on Earth: octopi and the other cephalopods
-- Woods Hole Oceangraphic Institite for building deep ocean exploration machines
-- LIGO seriously? merging black holes at 400 Mpc?
-- Theos Alexius, greek-austrlian monk-nun of the Chrysopigi Metamorphsis monastery, for choosing the path and being rooted to the Earth.
-- any and all players of the blues, including the Tuareg

Keeping wonder alive.

... wait, are you still here? More? Ok, here are my recent papers: annis papers