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Shanil Virani

Position:   Star Theater Director and Instructor of Space Science.
Degrees:   M.Phil., Astronomy, Yale University, M.S., Astronomy, Yale University, B. A., Philosophy, University of Waterloo, B. S., Physics, University of Waterloo.
Program/Department:   Space Science Center / Department of Physics, Earth Science and Space Systems Engineering

Bio: Shanil Virani is award-winning scientist and a passionate science educator. He is currently the Planetarium Director of Morehead State University’s Star Theater and an instructor in the Space Science Center.

He did his graduate work at Yale University where he studied supermassive black holes lurking at the centers of galaxies in the nearby and distant Universe. Prior to Yale, Shanil spent 5+ years at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics as part of the Science Team of the Chandra X-ray Observatory, NASA's flagship space-based X-ray mission. He received 7 group achievement commendations either from NASA or from The Smithsonian Institution for his contributions to the mission. In 2009, he was awarded the Chambliss Astronomy Achievement Award medal by the American Astronomical Society for exemplary research as a graduate student. In 2013, he was appointed a Solar System Ambassador by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Solar System Ambassadors communicate the excitement of JPL's space exploration missions and information about recent discoveries to people in their local communities. In 2017, Shanil was nominated by his students for James Madison University’s General Education Distinguished Teaching Award.
Shanil has authored or co-authored over 100 publications in scientific journals and his work has been cited more than 3,000 times. 
Shanil also hosts #OurIslandUniverse, a weekly online podcast that looks at all things space and how what goes on "up there" affects our life "down here". The central theme is to promote the public understanding of science, our exploration of the natural world, and how modern science is really a continuation of our species natural desire to understand the cosmos and our perspective within it.
You can find him on Twitter and Instagram as @shanilv where he invites you to continue the conversation with him!

Research Interests: Active Galactic Nuclei (supermassive black holes at the centers of galaxies), Cosmic X-ray Background, High Energy Astrophysics.

Publications: Published first author of research papers in peer-reviewed scientific journals like The Astrophysical Journal and The Astronomical Journal.
Published first author technical research papers in engineering/scientific journals like SPIE – The International Society for Optical Engineering.
3,333 citations of his combined work.

Contact info:
101 Space Science Center


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