Sanchez, Nicole


Graduate Student





Studied at

Fisk University (2016; Fisk-Vanderbilt Masters-to-PhD Bridge Program)

Joined UW in


Natalie “Nicole” Sanchez is a rising fifth year graduate student in the Astronomy Department. She is a member of the UW Nbody Shop and uses cosmological simulations of galaxies to better understand galactic evolution. With her advisor, Dr. Jessica Werk, Nicole focuses on researching the circumgalactic medium (CGM). She is particularly interested in understanding the mechanisms which drive the metal enrichment of the CGM, especially the effects of supermassive black holes. Nicole has recently published her second first-author paper, and is excited for what the future of her work may hold.

About Me

Nicole is originally from Souther California, and considers Los Angeles to be the greatest place in the world. Originally intending to attend an art academy after high school, Nicole ended up falling in love with astronomy while completing her general education courses at Santa Monica Community College. After two years, she transferred to the California Polytechnic University in Pomona, CA. There, she was admitted to the  California-Arizona Minority Partnership for Astronomy Research and Education (CAMPARE) Program, which supported two years of her research in young stellar objects with Dr. Matt Povich. After completing her BS in Physics, with a focus in Astrophysics, at Cal Poly Pomona, Nicole finally left the sunny west coast to pursue her Masters’ Degree as a part of the Fisk-Vanderbilt Masters’-to-PhD Bridge Program in Nashville, TN. There, she found a calling in theory based astrophysics and her research has focused on using cosmological simulations ever since. She also found a calling in roller derby, but that’s another story. Nicole worked with Dr. Jillian Bellovary and Dr. Kelly Holley-Bocklemann researching gas dynamics in galaxy evolution. After completing her Masters’ degree, Nicole moved to rainy Seattle to complete her PhD at the University of Washington.

When Nicole isn’t rummaging through computer-simulated galaxies for answers about the universe, Nicole has a laundry list of extracurriculars. Whether it’s hosting the popular monthly Astronomy on Tap series or singing lead vocals for Seattle’s premier only-astronomer band, Night Lunch, she has no problem talking up an audience. Off the stage, she’s invested in supporting the underrepresented members of her community. Through her outreach efforts, such as co-teaching an Astronomy summer camp for middle school girls and being the Academic Advisor for the department’s Pre-MAP program, Nicole hopes to make a positive impact on the climate of her field and help make Astronomy itself a more equitable place. On the rare occurrences when she’s not thinking about astronomy or astronomically-themed endeavors, Nicole spends a lot of time snuggling her miniature long haired Dachshund, Poderosa.