Nick Hand, PhD



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About Me

Hi there, I'm Nick.


I'm the director of the Finance, Policy, and Data unit in the Office of the City Controller in Philadelphia. My team works to produce data-driven, objective analysis of financial policy in the City of Philadelphia and improve transparency around the City's spending of taxpayer dollars. I am passionate about data visualization, predictive analytics, and effective communication of complex ideas to a broad audience. I am a strong supporter of transparency in government, open-source software, and the open science framework.

I am a recent astrophysics Ph.D. graduate from UC Berkeley, where I studied the Universe as an NSF Graduate Research Fellow. My dissertation research focused on cosmology, and in particular, the study of the large-scale structure of the Universe. One of my most exciting research achievements involved leading a team that measured the kinematic Sunyaev-Zel'dovich effect for the first time ever.

I graduated from Princeton in 2011 with a B.A. in astrophysics and a certificate in the applications of computing. While not analyzing interesting data sets, I enjoy reading, running long distances, and watching and playing baseball.



University of California, Berkeley

Graduated: December 2017

Ph.D. in Astrophysics

My Ph.D. thesis examines multiple aspects of the analysis of data sets mapping the large-scale structure (LSS) of the Universe. With my advisor, Uros Seljak, I have worked to develop the tools necessary to use data from future experiments to answer fundamental open questions about our Universe. As part of my dissertation, I have developed a massively parallel software toolkit suitable for analyzing and extracting statistics from LSS data sets, as well as novel theoretical techniques for accurately modeling those statistics.

Princeton University

Graduated: May 2011

Bachelor of Arts in Astrophysical Studies
Certificate in Applications of Computing

Working with my advisor, David Spergel, I completed a thesis using data from the Atacama Cosmology Telescope. We successfully detected the thermal Sunyaev-Zel'dovich effect associated with the dark matter halos of luminous red galaxies. We also began work on detecting the kinematic Sunyaev-Zel'dovich effect, which led to the first-ever measurement of this effect in 2012.


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