Faculty Directory

Department Chair: Jonathan Fortney Department Manager: Alyssa Danielli
Vice Chair: Brant Robertson Graduate Advisor: Brandon Day
Graduate Program Director: Andrew Skemer Department Assistant: Kali Lucas
Undergraduate Program Director: Connie Rockosi Astronomy Program Coordinator: Lani Skelton
Puragra Guha Thakurta
  • Pronouns he, him, his, his, himself
  • Title
    • Professor/Astronomer & Department Chair
    • Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics
  • Division Physical & Biological Sciences Division
  • Department
    • Astronomy & Astrophysics Department
    • UC Observatories
  • Affiliations Undergraduate Education
  • Phone
    408-455-3036 (cell), 831-459-5169 (office)
  • Email
  • Fax
  • Website
  • Office Location
    • Interdisciplinary Sciences Building, 281
  • Mail Stop UCO / Lick Observatory
  • Mailing Address
    • Dept of Astronomy & Astrophysics, UCO/Lick ObsUniv of California Santa Cruz, 1156 High St
    • Santa Cruz CA 95064
  • Faculty Areas of Expertise Astrophysics, Astronomy

Research Interests

My research is focused on the formation and evolution of galaxies – specifically, their accretion/cannibalism history, dark matter content, chemical enrichment, and star formation history. One approach is the study of the local "fossil record." Our group at UCSC led the SPLASH survey of red giant stars in our closest large neighbor Andromeda (M31) and its dwarf satellites using the Keck II 10-m telescope and DEIMOS spectrograph. SPLASH includes the spectroscopic supplement to PHAT, the HST multi-cycle treasury survey of M31. We also lead the ongoing HALO7D survey, which involves very deep Keck/DEIMOS spectroscopy and HST-based proper motions of stars in the Milky Way's outer halo, and the spectroscopic components of the PISCeS survey of nearby galaxy groups and the NGVS survey of the Virgo Cluster of galaxies. A second approach is based on "direct look-back" to distant galaxies. With colleagues Faber and Koo at UCSC and Conroy at Harvard, we have obtained very deep spectra of distant galaxies in the CANDELS fields as part of HALO7D. The same group was part of the UC-led DEEP2, DEEP3, and multi-wavelength (Chandra, GALEX, HST, Spitzer, VLA, etc.) AEGIS survey of distant galaxies. Other research interests include interstellar dust grains and their interaction with radiation, and the stellar populations and chemical abundance of globular clusters.

Biography, Education and Training

BSc, St Xavier's College, 1984
PhD, Princeton University, 1989

Honors, Awards and Grants

– Fellow, American Astronomical Society (2021)

– Raymond and Beverly Sackler Distinguished Lecturer, Tel-Aviv University (2018)

– National Research Council of Canada’s Herzberg Memorial Prize and Fellowship (2001)

– Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship, University of California Santa Cruz (1997)

– Hubble Fellowship, Princeton University (1992)