Hello, and welcome to my home page!
This page is currently under renovation owing to recent USF website migrations - this will soon become a fuller and more updated website.

I am currently an assistant professor (soon to be Associate Professor as of Fall 2012) in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of San Francisco .

Awarded a Jesuit Foundation Grant at USF, May 2012

I will be giving the Benjamin Dean lecture at the California Academy of Sciences on the evening of Monday May 7, 2012. Please feel welcome to come if you are in the area.

My scientific interests lie primarily in theoretical cosmology, including studies of the first stars and quasars in the universe, cosmological reionization (particularly helium reionization), cosmic element synthesis, the cosmic microwave background, the physics and chemistry of gas in the early universe, dark matter, and gravitational lensing. I have also worked in high-energy astrophysics (gamma-ray bursts and cosmic rays) and planetary astronomy as an undergraduate and graduate student. My current work ranges from the above cosmology topics to projects in the fields of dark stars and astrobiology.

If you are interested in some light springtime reading, check out my latest CV here.


I am currently working with physics major (and astrophysics minor) students Chris Downing, Haley Sharp and Long Yan Yung on a variety of cosmology projects.
Long Yan is the 2012 recipient of the USF Arthur Furst scholarship award for his research. And he has also been awarded the Mike and Millie Lehmann Scholarship for 2012 from the Math Dept. at USF. Double congratulations, Long Yan!
(The 2011 Lehmann Scholarship went to Chris Downing)

Chris and Haley will be presenting some of their recent work on ALFALFA-related observations on the Arecibo Telescope, and on using the metal abundances in extremely metal-poor halo stars to constrain the first-stars mass function, at the "Second Annual Day of Celebration of Students' Research and Artistic and Scholarly Creative Activity", to be held at USF on Monday April 16, 2012 during the U.S. Congress-designated National Week of Undergraduate Research. Please feel welcome to stop by!

I joined USF's physics department in Fall 2006 to help expand the astronomy and astrophysics program. Through the introduction of new astronomy and astrophysics courses over the last few years, and the upgrading of our observing facilities, we now have new two undergraduate minors (astronomy, and astrophysics) as of Fall 2009. More details are now available on the departmental website.

Before moving to the Bay Area, I held an NSF Astronomy and Astrophysics Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Center for Astrophysics and Space Astronomy at the University of Colorado at Boulder. I graduated from the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Chicago in 2000; my thesis advisor was Prof. Angela Olinto. Prior to the years in the city of big shoulders, I received my bachelor's degree from Cornell University's Astronomy Department .

You can contact me by email at: avenkatesan "at" usfca.edu
or by phone at: 415-422-6152. My mailing address is:

Department of Physics and Astronomy
University of San Francisco
2130 Fulton Street, San Francisco, CA 94117

Disclaimer: Any opinions expressed here are not the responsibility of the Department of Physics and Astronomy, or of the University of San Francisco.