I am a 6th year PhD candidate in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at UCLA. My research centers on the use of strong gravitational lensing by galaxies to investigate the nature of dark matter.
Gravitational lensing refers to the deflection of light rays by gravitational fields. It is perhaps the most spectacular and in-your-face example of a phenomenon that is totally removed from our everyday experience, and enbales us to direclty probe dark matter structure in the universe across cosmological distance. For some additional explanation about why it is useful, and to see a couple animations, click the "Lensing Animations" link below.