Dean Townsley is an Associate Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Alabama. Before coming to Alabama, Dean was Bart J. Bok Fellow at Steward Observatory, the Astronomy Department at The University of Arizona. Previous to that, he was a Research Scientist in the University of Chicago Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, associated with the Joint Institute for Nuclear Astrophysics (JINA). Dean also worked and continue to work closely with several people currently and formerly associated with the Center for Astrophysical Thermonuclear Flashes. Dean received his Ph.D. in Physics in 2004 from The University of California, Santa Barbara under Lars Bildsten. He received his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, Physics, and Applied Mathematics from Florida State University.
Dean Townsley’s research interests lie in refining stellar physics via its application to novel and dynamic astrophysical systems. More specifically, he studies white dwarf stellar remnants accreting mass from a companion in close stellar binaries. He has calculated the white dwarf’s thermal state and seismological characteristics and is currently utilizing these in tandem with observational measurements to derive general properties of the compact stellar binary population. He is also using hydrodynamic simulations to study the explosive nuclear events, which occur in accreting white dwarf binaries, including surface runaways (Classical Novae) and thermonuclear supernovae (Type Ia). Type Ia Supernovae are one of the premier probes of the expansion history of the universe. Dean is working to better understand their origin in mass transferring binaries and how the properties of the binary are related to properties of the explosion outcome observed.