Welcome to my webpage!

I am a Junior Fellow in the Simons Society of Fellows, a position that I am pursuing in New York at Columbia University, the Computational Center for Astrophysics (CCA), and the Simons Foundation.  I am also currently a Research Professor in the William H. Miller III Department of Physics and Astronomy at Johns Hopkins University where I will start full-time as an Assistant Professor by July 2025. 

I completed my astrophysics Ph.D. (’23) from Harvard University at the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian in Cambridge, MA.  I also completed a joint MSc. degree in Astronomy from the University of Amsterdam and the Vrije Universiteit (VU) in 2018 and both a Bachelor’s degree in ‘Mathematics’ as well as a Bachelor’s degree in ‘Physics & Astronomy’ at the University of Amsterdam (UvA) in 2017.

My research focuses on Gravitational Wave Paleontology: studying massive stars from their ‘remnants’ as compact object coalescences, with the goal to answer some of the key questions in gravitational-wave astronomy today: How do these gravitational-wave sources form? What can we learn from them about the formation, lives, and explosive deaths of massive stars across cosmic time? How do these sources help to enrich the universe with heavy metals over cosmic time?
When pairs of stellar-mass black holes and neutron stars across our vast universe collide, they unleash bursts of gravitational waves that can now be detected on Earth since the first observation of a binary black hole merger in 2015. The detectable properties of these double compact object mergers, like their masses, carry valuable information about the physics of black holes and neutron stars and probe the massive stars that once formed them. These detections open this new frontier of gravitational-wave paleontology. Making the most of these gravitational-wave observations requires comparing the observed properties of the black hole and neutron star mergers, such as their rates, masses, and spins, to theoretical models of their formation pathways. In my work I  address the key bottleneck in this endeavor: the so-called progenitor Uncertainty Challenge: uncertainties within the theoretical models are so large, and the models so computationally expensive, that learning about the underlying fundamental physical processes in massive star evolution from gravitational-wave observations is challenging. 

Together with my international team of collaborators and students, I am developing new tools, methods, and simulations to improve on this and open the field of gravitational-wave paleontology and learn about the lives of massive stars across cosmic time. My projects focus on building and understanding stellar evolution models, developing new machine learning and AI techniques to improve computational costs, understanding the formation of gravitational-wave sources across cosmic time, and understanding the star formation and enrichment histories of our Universe. My research spans topics including massive stars, binaries, black holes and neutron stars, stellar evolution, pulsars, astro-statistics, AI, Machine Learning, double compact object merger rates and properties, and population synthesis models. 

I am a member of the Cosmic Transient group of Prof Edo Berger at Harvard and am in addition also an active member of the COMPAS stellar evolution group and work closely with many collaborators at Monash University and OzGrav, Melbourne, Australia, I am also a co-PI of AstroAI, a new and growing initiative to accelerate AI in astronomy at the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian. 

Besides my research, I enjoy spending time and energy doing several other things for the Astronomy Community including initiating a group to support early-career astronomers, a conference session at the EAS for early-career astronomers and their supporters as well as that I initiated a session on BH-NS systems, I mentor and supervise several students each year, give outreach talks and am in several organizing committees, and trying to create more support resources in Astronomy such as an BAAS article on resources for workplace incivility experiences. In my free time, I love hiking, running, playing volleyball, cycling & juggling.


Picture of me (Floor Broekgaarden) teaching a demo on using COMPAS data in Saas-Fee. The figure shows the beamer screen with some data points as well as a cat that is looking at the screenTeaching a COMPAS demo in the Saas-Fee Ph.D. school in 2022