Curriculum Vitae

I've lived and worked for the vast majority of my life in the Los Angeles Basin.
(LA Highway System Envisioned c. 1947)

California Institute of Technology – Pasadena, CA

Postdoctoral Scholar in Theoretical Astrophysics (2019-2020)
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory Science Affiliate (2018-2020)

Ph.D. Physics (2019)
Advisor: Phil Hopkins
Thesis: Spatially Resolved Star Formation in Cosmological Zoom-in Simulations: Understanding the Role of Feedback in Scaling Relations (DOI)

NSF Graduate Research Fellow (2015-2018)
Rose Hills Graduate Research Fellow (2014-2015)

University of Southern California – Los Angeles, CA

B.S. Physics, Minor in Astronomy (2014)
Hertz Fellowship Finalist, USC Discovery Scholar (2014)
Goldwater Scholar (2012)

La Cañada High School – La Cañada Flintridge, CA

A bit more about me:

I am a postdoctoral in the Theoretical Astrophysics including Relativity group (TAPIR) here at Caltech, working with my Ph.D. advisor Prof. Phil Hopkins. My main work involves investigating emergent star formation laws on varying spatial scales in the Feedback in Realistic Environment (FIRE) simulations. This includes studying the dynamical states of the dust and gas in the simulations, and forward modeling observables like CO and C+.

At Caltech, I have developed a strong commitment to service, taking an active part in TAPIR, across the institute, and through public outreach events. As a graduate student, I have held roles at the Institute as the Chair of the Graduate Dean’s Advisory Committee (DAC), Chair of Strategic Communications & Publications on the Graduate Student Council (GSC), on the Graduate Title IX Advisory Board, and served as a graduate representative to Caltech’s Board of Trustee’s on the Student Experience Committee. I have been involved with the Caltech Astro Outreach program, giving monthly public lectures and running more informal events through the Astro on Tap series. Additionally, I have taken an interest in getting science on the (small) screen, and have acted as an on-set science consultant for CBS’ Strange Angel series.

Link to Curriculum Vitae (PDF).

ORCID Profile


First author works (5 refereed):

  1. Orr, M.E., Hayward, C.C., Medling, A.M., et al. (2020). Swirls of FIRE: Spatially Resolved Gas Velocity Dispersions and Star Formation Rates in FIRE-2 Disk Environments. MNRAS 496, 1620-1637 (DOI)

  2. Orr, M.E., Hayward, C.C., Hopkins, P.F., et al. (2019). A Simple Non-equilibrium Feedback Model for Galaxy-scale Star Formation: Delayed Feedback and SFR Scatter. MNRAS 486, 4, 4724-4737 (DOI)

  3. Orr, M.E., Hayward, C.C., Hopkins, P.F., et al. (2018). What FIREs Up Star Formation: the Emergence of the Kennicutt- Schmidt Law from Feedback. MNRAS 478, 3, 3653-3673 (DOI)

  4. Orr, M.E., Hayward, C.C., Nelson, E.J., et al. (2017). Stacked Star Formation Rate Profiles of Bursty Galaxies Exhibit "Coherent" Star Formation, ApJ 849:L2 (DOI)

  5. Orr, M.E., Pineda, J., & Goldsmith, P.F. (2014). Photon-Dominated Region Modeling of the [C I], [C II], and CO line emission from a boundary in the Taurus Molecular Cloud. ApJ, 795(1), 26-26. (DOI)

N-th author works: see ADS, arXiv, Google Scholar

Talks and Posters

Invited Talks (4 total):

AAS 2020 Summer Meeting (ISM-BIG Meeting-in-a-meeting) – "Madison, WI" (June 2020)
UConn Galaxies Seminar – Storrs, CT (January 2020)
UC Santa Cruz IMPS Seminar – Santa Cruz, CA (February 2019)
Ohio State University CCAPP Colloquium – Columbus, OH (October 2018)

Contributed Talks (14 total):

New England Star Formation Workshop – Storrs, CT (January 2020)
AAS 2020 Winter Meeting – Honolulu, HI (January 2020)
Galaxy Formation & Evolution in Southern California 2019 – Irvine, CA (August 2019)
AAS 2019 Winter Meeting (Dissertation Talk) – Seattle, WA (January 2019)
Galaxy Formation & Evolution in Southern California 2018 – Pasadena, CA (August 2018)
Santa Cruz Galaxy Workshop – Santa Cruz, CA (August 2018)
The Multi-scale Physics of Star Formation and Feedback – Heidelberg, Germany (June 2018)
AAS 2018 Summer Meeting - Denver, CO (June 2018)
Swinburne-CalTech Science Workshop 3 (SCTW3) - Pasadena, CA (September 2017)
Galaxy Formation & Evolution in Southern California 2017 (GalFRESCA17) - Pasadena, CA (August 2017)
Star Formation in Difference Environments 2017 (SFDE17) - Quy Nhon, Binh Dinh, Vietnam (August 2017)
The Local Truth: Star-Formation and Feedback in the SOFIA Era - Asilomar, CA (October 2016)
Galaxy Formation & Evolution in Southern California 2016 (GalFRESCA16) - Pasadena, CA (September 2016)
Theoretical Astrophysics in Southern California 2015 (TASC2015) - Fullerton, CA (November 2015)

Public Talks:

Pasadena Astro on Tap (Caltech Astronomy Outreach) – Pasadena, CA (April 2020, YouTube Link)
GCC Planetarium “A Conversation with the Stars” – Glendale, CA (April 2019)
Caltech Astronomy Outreach Lecture Series – Pasadena, CA (February 2018, YouTube Link)
Palomar Observatory Greenway Lecture Series – Palomar, CA (November 2017)


Orr, M.E. (2019). Gas Velocity Dispersions in the FIRE-2 Simulations: Gas Stability, Feedback, & Outflows. Linking the Milky Way and Nearby Galaxies. Helsinki, Finland. (PDF)
Gilpin, M., Hilario, M., Orr, M.E. (2012). Phase-Change Thermal Energy Storage to Augment Solar Thermal Propulsion. USC Graduate Research Symposium. Los Angeles, CA. (PDF)