Prša Andrej

Professor of Astrophysics and Planetary Science, Villanova University

Andrej Prša is a Professor of Astrophysics at Villanova University. In 2005 Andrej earned his PhD in Astrophysics from the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia. For his dissertation, Andrej built the widely used binary modeling code PHOEBE (PHysics Of Eclipsing BinariEs). Today, his field of expertise remains binary star physics, but has expanded to include multiple stellar systems, extra-solar planets, asteroseismology and astrostatistics. Most of Andrej’s work is based on modeling large astronomical data-sets and applying large-scale non-linear regression models using backpropagating neural networks, stochastic embedding algorithms and Markov Chain Monte Carlo samplers. He has published a textbook on eclipsing binary stars and authored over 200 papers, 40 of which are first-author papers. Andrej is currently leading a research group that consists of 4 postdocs, 3 graduate students and 5 undergraduate students. The group is funded through his external grants, most notably from NSF and NASA, and he has an uninterrupted grant track record since 2007. In 2018 Andrej was the recipient of the prestigious Veritas Award for outstanding research. He actively collaborates on the large-scale international surveys Kepler/K2, TESS, LSST, SDSS/APOGEE and Gaia.

Research projects: Computational astrophysics. involving the development of the theoretical framework for modeling eclipsing binary and multiple systems, solving the radiative transfer problem in contact binaries, parameter estimation using machine learning and artificial neural networks, modeling transiting exoplanets and circumbinary objects with Kepler/K2 and TESS data, developing variable star metrics for the ongoing mission Gaia and upcoming Large Synoptic Survey Telescope.