Dr. Sandra Liss

Dr. Sandy Liss on a VLA antenna
Dr. Sandy Liss

Assistant Professor of Physics

Office: Reed Hall 312
Department of Physics, PO Box 6983
Radford, VA  24142
540-831-2482 (Office)
540-831-5652 (Dept. office)

Courses taught:

ASTR 111 - General Astronomy I
ASTR 112 - General Astronomy II
ASTR 220 - Introduction to Astrophysics 
ASTR 310 - Observational Astronomy 
ASTR 421 - Solar System Astronomy
ASTR 422 - Galactic Astronomy and Cosmology
PHSC 431 - Energy and the Environment

My scientific research interests are in astronomical origins – the formation and evolution of the galaxies, stars, and planets in our universe.  I obtained my B.A. in Physics from Swarthmore College in 2011 where I also minored in Educational Studies.  As an undergraduate, I studied the orbital properties of pre-main sequence binary pairs of stars. Before attending graduate school, I worked for a year as a research assistant in Penn State’s Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics where I studied the orbits of evolved hot subdwarf binary stars.  I received my M.S. and Ph.D in Astronomy from the University of Virginia in 2014 and 2018, respectively. My dissertation research at UVa focused on star formation in nearby interacting dwarf galaxies using large ground-based optical telescopes and space-based optical and infrared telescopes.

I have continued this work with students at Radford University through independent studies and Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships.  The specific projects have been driven by student interest, combining both archival and proprietary data to further our understanding of the stars, gas, and dust in these merging systems.  I’ve also expanded my work to include radio studies of massive star binary pair formation using radio data, again based on student research questions.  I am open to exploring any area of astronomy with our RU students – just stop by my office or send me an email and we can get started!

In addition to teaching at Radford, I am involved in implementing inclusive science education initiatives, developing a diverse and active astronomy research group, and restoring the telescope at Selu Observatory.