Welcome! I'm Dr. Keith Hawkins,

Simons Junior Research Fellow and Astronomer at
Columbia University , and
Visiting Research Fellow at
The Simons Center for Computational Astrophysics

Curriculum Vitae (Full)

Cambridge Ph.D. Thesis: "Dissecting the Milky Way with Spectroscopic Studies”


I am currently a Simons Junior Research Fellow at Columbia University in the city of New York primarily exploring the Milky Way Galaxy (its formation, evolution and structure) using stellar spectroscopy as my tool. In the Fall of 2018, I will be moving to the University of Texas at Austin as an Assitant Professor of Astronomy.

My main interest is in using multi-object spectroscopic surveys to better understand the chemo-dynamic properties of the Milky Way (Galactic Archaeology). My expertise are in high- to low-resolution spectroscopy and stellar chemical abundance patterns. For a full CV click here

I completed my Ph.D. in 2016 at the Institute of Astronomy in Cambridge UK , under a Marshall Scholarship , and King’s College Cambridge Studentship. I primarily worked with Prof. Gerry Gilmore and Prof. Paula Jofre (now at UDP, Chile) . My Ph.D. dissertation was entitled "Dissecting the Milky Way with Spectroscopic Studies” can be found here. Before my time at the University of Cambridge, I received my B.S. in Astrophysics (with minors in Mathematics and African Studies) from Ohio University in 2013.


  • Ph.D. Astronomy -- University of Cambridge, August 2016 ( Thesis can be found here )
  • B.S. Astrophysics (summa cum laude) , minor in Mathematics, certificate in African Studies, Ohio University, Honors Tutorial College, May 2013

  • Publications
    For full list of publications on ADS click here

    First/Second-Authored Papers:
    1. 1. Ting, Y.-S., Hawkins, K., Rix, H.-W., 2018, “A large and pristine sample of standard candles across the Milky Way: ~100,000 red clump stars with 3% contamination ”, ApJ, submitted, arXiv:1803.06650
    2. 2. Hawkins, K., Ting, Y.-S., Rix, H.-W., 2018, “Photospheric diagnostics of core helium burning in giant stars ”, ApJ,853, 20H
    3. 3. Hawkins, K., Leistedt, B., Bovy, J., Hogg, D., 2017, “Red clump stars and Gaia: Calibration of the standard candle using a hierarchical probabilistic model”, MNRAS, 471, 722H 4. Masseron, T. and Hawkins, K. et al. 2016, “The spectroscopic indistinguishability of red giant branch and red clump stars”, Astronomy and Astrophysics, 597L, 3M
    4. 5. Hawkins, K. et al. 2016b, “An Accurate and Self-Consistent Chemical Abundance Catalogue for the APOGEE/Kepler Sample”, Astronomy and Astrophysics, 594A,43H
    5. 6. Casey, A. R., Hawkins, K., et al., "The RAVE-on catalog of stellar atmospheric parameters and chemical abundances for chemo-dynamic studies in the Gaia era" , 2016, arxiv eprint:1609.02914
    6. 7. Hawkins, K. et al. 2016a, “Gaia FGK Benchmark Stars: New Candidates at Low-Metallicity”, Astronomy and Astrophysics, 592, A70
    7. 8. Hawkins, K. et al. 2015b, “Using Chemical Tagging to Redefine the Interface of the Galactic Disk and Halo”, MNRAS, 453, 758.
    8. 9. Hawkins, K. et al. 2015a, “Characterizing high-velocity stars in RAVE: the discovery of a metal-rich halo star born in the Galactic disk” , MNRAS, 447, 2046.
    9. 10. Hawkins, K. et al. 2014, "On the relative ages of the α-rich and α-poor stellar populations in the Galactic halo, MNRAS, 445, 2575

    10. Co-Authored Papers:
    11. 11. Mohammed, S., Schiminovich, D., Hawkins, K., et al., " An Ultraviolet- Optical Color-Metallicity relation for Red Clump Stars using GALEX and Gaia" , 2017, ApJ, submitted, arXiv:1805.03236
    12. 12. Boubert, D.; Guillochon, J. Hawkins, K., et al., "Revisiting hypervelocity stars after Gaia DR2" , 2018, MNRAS, submitted, arXiv:1804.10179
    13. 13. Miglio, A., ..., Hawkins, K., et al., "PLATO as it is: a legacy mission for Galactic archaeology" , 2017, Astronomical Notes, 338, 644M
    14. 14. Jofre, P., Traven, G., Hawkins, K., et al., "Climbing the cosmic ladder with stellar twins in RAVE with Gaia" , 2017, MNRAS, 601A, 38J
    15. 15. Duffau, S., ..., Hawkins, K., et al., "The Gaia-ESO Survey: Galactic evolution of sulphur and zinc" , 2017, Astronomy and Astrophysics, 604A, 128D
    16. 16. Jofre, P., ..., Hawkins, K., et al., "Gaia FGK Benchmark stars: Opening the black box of stellar element abundance determination" , 2016, Astronomy and Astrophysics, accetped, arxiv eprint:1606.03015
    17. 17. Kunder, A., ..., Hawkins, K., et al., "The Radial Velocity Experiment (RAVE): Fifth Data Release" , 2016, Astronomical Journal, accepted, arxiv eprint:1609.03210
    18. 18. Madler, T., Jofre, P., ..., Hawkins, K., et al., "Stellar twins determine the distance of the Pleiades" , 2016, arxiv eprint:1606.03015
    19. 19. Jofre, P., Masseron, T., Izzard, R. G., Van Eck, S., Hawkins, K., et al., "Cannibals in the thick disk: the young α−rich stars as evolved blue stragglers" , 2016, arxiv eprint:1603.08992
    20. 20. Kunder, A., Rich, M. R., Hawkins, K., et al., 2015, "A high-velocity bulge RR Lyrae variable on a halo-like orbit", ApJL, 808, 12L.
    21. 21. Jackson-Jones, R., Jofre, P., Hawkins, K. et al., 2014, “The Gaia-ESO Survey: α-abundances of metal poor stars" , Astronomy and Astrophysics Letter, 571L , 5
    22. 22. Gupta, A.C., ...,Hawkins, K., et al., 2012, “Multiwavelength intraday variability of the BL Lacertae S5 0716+714,” MNRAS, 425, 1357
    23. 23. Aliu, E., ..., Hawkins, K., et al., 2012, “Discovery of high-energy and very high energy γ-ray emission from the blazar RBS 0413,” ApJ, 750, 94
    24. 24. Raiteri, C. M., ..., Hawkins, K., et al., 2011, “The long-lasting activity of 3C 454.3. GASP-WEBT and satellite observations in 2008-2010,” A&A, 534, A87

    Recent Talks / Workshops

  • Apr. 2018, "Galactic Archeaology and Gaia ", Wesleyan Univ., Middletown, CT (invited colloquium)
  • Apr. 2018, "Galactic Archeaology and Gaia ", Harvard/CfA, Cambridge, MA (invited stars and planets seminar)
  • Apr. 2018, "Galactic Archeaology and Gaia ", Boston University, Boston, MA USA (invited colloquium)
  • Feb. 2018, "Galactic Archeaology and Gaia ", Bluffton, SC, USA (Simons Foundation Society of Fellows Confernece)
  • Feb. 2018, "Galactic Archeaology and Gaia ", Univ. of Washington, Seattle, WA. (invited colloquium)
  • Dec. 2017, "Gaia: The Galactic Revolution", UT Austin, Austin, TX. (invited seminar)
  • Oct. 2017, "Galaxy Formation: A Historical Perspective", Columbia Univ., NYC, NY (Galaxies Lunch)
  • Oct. 2017, "Galactic Archeaology", Carnegie Observatories, Pasadena, CA. (invited colloquium)
  • Sept. 2017, "Galactic Archeaology", University of Toronto/Dunlap, Toronto, Canada (invited colloquium)
  • Sept. 2017, "Galactic Archeaology", University of California Berkeley, Berkeley, CA. (invited colloquium)
  • Aug. 2017, Astrohack week, Seattle, WA. (workshop)
  • Jul. 2017, Gaia DR1 Sprint, Heidelberg, Germany (workshop)
  • Sept. 2017, "Galactic Archeaology: the story of the Milky Way and Me", Harvard University, Cambridge, MA. (invited keynote address to Banneker and Aztlán Institute)
  • Jun. 2017, "Piecing together the Galactic halo with Large Surveys", Southern Cross 2017: Surveying the Cosmos, The Science From Massively Multiplexed Surveys, Sydney, Australia (invited talk)
  • Apr. 2017, "Red Clump Stars, Stellar Twins, and the Prospects of Chemical Cartography with Gaia, ASTROMETRY AND ASTROPHYSICS IN THE GAIA SKY, IAUS330, Nice, France (talk)
  • Mar. 2017, "Galactic Archeaology in the Gaia Era", Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ (invited seminar)
  • Feb. 2017, "Galactic Archeaology in the Gaia Era", University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX (invited colloqium)
  • Feb. 2017, Asteroseismology and Galactic Archeaology workshop, Bern, Switzerland (workshop)
  • Jan. 2017, "Red Clump Stars, Stellar Twins, and the Prospects of Chemical Cartography with Gaia", The Galactic Renaissance conference in honor of J. Cohen, Caltech, Pasaden, USA, (talk)
  • Dec. 2016, "Galactic Archeaology in the Gaia Era", LaGuardia Community College, NY, USA, (invited colloquium)
  • Nov. 2016, "Galactic structure, stellar spectroscopy, and Gaia", Center for Computation Astro., NY, USA (invited seminar)
  • Oct. 2016, Gaia DR1 Sprint, New York, NY, USA (workshop)
  • Oct. 2016, "Galactic achaeology: Piecing together the Galaxy", American Museum of Natural History, NY, USA (invited colloquium)
  • Oct. 2016, "Piecing together the Galaxy with stellar spectroscopy", Columbia University, NY, USA (seminar)
  • Oct. 2016, "Piecing together the Galaxy with stellar spectroscopy", New Mexico State Univ., NM, USA (invited seminar)
  • Aug. 2016, “Characterizing High-Velocity Stars in the RAVE Survey", Bamberg, Germany (invited talk)
  • Jul. 2016, “Industrial Revolution in Galactic Astronomy", Sesto, Italy (workshop)
  • Jun. 2016, “Dissecting the Galaxy with Spectroscopic Surveys", University of Kent, Canterbury, UK (invited talk)
  • Mar. 2016, “Piecing together the Milky Way using Large Spectroscopic Surveys", Kapteyn Astronomical Institute, Groningen, NL (invited talk)
  • Feb. 2016, “Opening the Pandora's Box on Stellar Spectroscopy", Cambridge, UK (workshop)
  • Feb. 2016, “Searching for the Accreated Halo in the APOGEE Survey", IoA Wednesday Seminar Series, Cambridge, UK (talk)
  • Jan. 2016, “Galactic Archaeology in the Era of Large Surveys", Ohio University Colloquium, Athens, Ohio (invited talk)
  • Jan. 2016, “At the Interface of the disk and halo: A lesson from APOGEE”, AAS Winter meeting 227, Kissimee, Fl. (dissertation talk)
  • Dec. 2015, “Gaia Benchmark Stars: New Candidates at Low Metallicity”, Gaia-ESO Third Science Meeting, Vilnius, Lithuania (talk)
  • May 2015, “Piecing together the Milky Way using Large Spectroscopic Surveys”, Oxford Galaxies Seminar, Oxford, UK (invited talk)
  • Mar. 2015, “The Ages and Fractions of the In situ/Accreted Halo Population”, Multi-Object Spectroscopy in the Next Generation, La Palma, Canary Islands (talk)
  • Mar. 2015, “Characterizing High-Velocity Stars and the Discovery of an Ejected Disk Star”, ESO workshop on stellar halo, Munich, Germany (talk)
  • Nov. 2014, “The Ages and Fractions of the Alpha-rich and Alpha-Poor Populations in the Halo”, Gaia-ESO Second Science Meeting, Porto, Portugal (talk)
  • Jan. 2013, “A Search for Solar-Type Hypervelocity Stars,” American Astronomical Society Meeting 221, Long Beach, CA (poster)
  • Research

    My research program has been focused on developing an understanding of the formation and assembly of the Galactic halo using large surveys. One way to do this is study the different stellar population in the halo chemically and kinematically. Outside of my Ph.D. work I am interested in the following:

  • Data Mining Large Survey (e.g. APOGEE, Gaia, Gaia - ESO, RAVE, SDSS, etc.)
  • Stellar archaeology via spectroscopy
  • Galactic Structure and Evolution
  • Exoplanet Host Star Characterization

  • More to come... stay tuned!

    Teaching and Outreach


  • Galactic Dynamics, Part II Astrophysics, Cambridge, Spring 2013-15
  • Stellar Structure and Evolution, Part II Astrophysics, Cambridge, Fall 2014-15
  • General Physics Year 1 and 2, Athens, Ohio, 2012 - 2013
  • Middle School Mathematics/Science, Cape Coast, Ghana, Fall 2010
  • Students Co-supervised

  • R. Jackson-Jones: I co-supervised Reece with Paula Jofre and Gerry Gilmore on a project using the Gaia-ESO survey to determine the relative fraction of α-rich and α-poor stars in the Galactic halo. We published an Astronomy and Astrophysics letter on this topic.


    I am actively involved in outreach of many kinds at the Institute of Astronomy and have been involved in outreach efforts in various places around the world. I have helped organize and run ‘public observing’ and given a series of outreach talks to middle school, high school, undergraduate as well as the general public.

    In the summer of 2013, I developed, coordinated and ran a 2-day workshop on ‘Demystifying the Science Fair‘ geared for middle/high school students in Athens, Ohio that was designed encourage them to compete at the highest levels of science competition for their age group.

    Since coming to Cambridge, I have been active in public observing and most recently have giving a talk entitled “Galactic Archaeology and the Life of the Young Astronomer” to a group of Year 11 (15 year old) students that were a part of the Black, Asian, Minority, Ethnic (BAME) summer program at Cambridge.

    I am extremely interested in and work towards encourage more students from underrepresent groups to participate in the sciences and in particular astronomy. So if you are working on projects to get more minorities involved in astronomy/science, I would love to hear your thoughts or help in anyway I can!

    I am also the former chair of the King’s College Graduate Society (KCGS).

  • Contact

  • Email

  • Address

    Columbia University Dept. of Astronomy
    Mail Code 5246
    550 West 120th Street
    New York, New York 10027