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Chad Bustard


Hi, and welcome to my website! I'm currently a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics (KITP) in Santa Barbara, CA. I was previously an NSF Graduate Fellow at University of Wisconsin - Madison, where in Summer 2020 I completed my Ph.D. on "Cosmic Ray Transport and the Galaxy Gas Cycle" with my advisor Ellen Zweibel and co-advisor Elena D'Onghia.  


My research focuses on plasma astrophysics. More specifically, I explore, through both analytic studies and simulations, how galactic winds expel mass from galaxies and regulate star formation; how energetic particles called cosmic rays launch galactic outflows and shape their multiphase environments; and how cosmic ray propagation can be constrained with observations. I'm also interested in the formation and survival of cold/warm gas in hot, circumgalactic environments, with one fascinating, nearby example being the Magellanic Stream.

Publications and CV

Education and Positions Held


Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics (KITP), UC-Santa Barbara


University of Wisconsin - Madison


Los Alamos National Laboratory


Rice University

Postdoctoral Fellow

Major projects: Simulations and theory of cosmic ray transport and influence in the multiphase interstellar and circumgalactic medium (with Siang Peng Oh); Simulations of cold gas evolution in the hot circumgalactic medium (with Max Gronke)

Ph.D in Physics, Concentration in Computational Plasma Astrophysics

Thesis: "Cosmic Ray Transport and the Galaxy Gas Cycle"

Awards: NSF Graduate Fellowship, Rodger Doxsley Travel Prize (AAS Winter Meeting 2020), Karl Guthe Jansky and Alice Knapp Jansky Award

Post-Baccalaureate Student Researcher, Theory Division (T-2)

Major project: Simulations of inertial confinement fusion (with Hui Li)

B.S. in Astrophysics and B.A. in Mathematics

Awards: Dessler Prize in Space Physics


My Research

Within the broader fields of galaxy evolution and plasma astrophysics, my research program is defined by a few principal methodologies and topics:


  • Cosmic rays 

  • Galactic winds

  • Turbulence and multiphase gas in galaxy halos


  • Leveraging both proprietary and open-source tools to create, analyze, and visualize terabytes of simulation data 

  • Creating mock observations to bridge gaps between theory and observations

  • Exploring emerging machine learning technologies to extract insights from data

Click on the images below to learn more about a few specific subjects and projects!



Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics, University of California - Santa Barbara, Kohn Hall, Santa Barbara, CA 93107

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