Professor Jillian Bellovary

About Me

My research focuses on the origins of black holes in the early universe, and how we might use information from the local universe to answer this question. I use the code ChaNGa to create cosmological hydrodynamical simulations and examine how massive black holes form and evolve. I am currently tenure-track faculty at Queensborough Community College, where I run the Origins of Black Holes program. I am also the Acting Director of the Masters in Astrophysics program at the CUNY Graduate Center. In my free time I like to play roller derby and knit.

You can access a somewhat current version of my CV here.


My publications on ADS are here. Some cool new results:

Merger Origins of off-center black holes in dwarfs

Black holes form centrally in dwarf galaxies, but when they merge with other galaxies all bets are off.

Links: arxiv.1806.00471, arxiv.2101.09566

Black hole merger timescales in dwarfs

Dwarf galaxies are the most abundanct in the universe, so could they be a common site for LISA-detectable gravitational waves from merging black holes? We find that black hole merger timescales may be short enough that the answer could be YES.

Link: arxiv.2111.15035

Migration Traps in AGN DIsks

Could AGN disks be an ideal place for stellar black holes to form binaries and merge? The existence of migration traps could be a superhighway for creating the black hole mergers measured by LIGO/VIRGO.

Link: arxiv.1511.00005


My teaching philosophy is: I embrace bell hooks' philosophy of "education as the practice of freedom." My goal is to empower my students to find, value, and use their true voices. I strive to create a classroom environment that is inclusive of all people, regardless of gender/orientation/race/immigration status/class/religion/ability/etc.

Some classes I've taught are:

Physics 111 - Introduction to Astronomy

I use a flipped classroom model to help students discover the amazing properties of planets, stars, galaxies, and the universe. Students watch pre-recorded lectures using VoiceThread and make interactive comments. In class we do activities and demonstrations in groups to solidify concepts. This course is Writing Intensive, and students write three essays over the course of the term. In each assignment students have some ownership of their choice of topic. Examples of the assignments are:

  • Disproved Theories - Students use their understanding of the Scientific Method to describe a theory which has been disproven. Any scientific theory that interests them is acceptable, it needn't be astronomical.
  • Voyage to Mars - Students write a letter to their Senator arguing for or against a mission to Mars. This assignment includes factual research, persuasive writing, and illumination of our political system.
  • Astronomy in the News - Students describe a recent news article to a non-scientist, reinforcing their knowledge from the course and practicing science communication.
Here is a link to an interactive activity about spectra, from when I had short hair.

Link to example syllabus

Physics 112 - Astronomy

Astronomy Lab involves hands-on activities with astronomical applications.

Link to example syllabus

Physics 201 - General Physics I

This course consists of the topics of motion, force, momentum, rotation, and fluids. I use a flipped classroom model, incorporating youtube lectures and in-class problem solving to help students understand physical concepts. Solving problems in groups helps students explore concepts, make mistakes in a risk-free environment, defend their processes, and learn from each other.
Link to example syllabus

Talks and Press

I've had the privelege of being interviewed and featured in many forums, including the following:

There has also been some great press about the new CUNY Masters in Astrophysics Program, which you can read here.

I've given many talks in the New York metro area and beyond, to both scientific and public audiences. Some examples of public talks I've given are:

  • Gravitational Waves: Ripples in SpaceTime (QCC Presidential Lecture, Westport Astronomical Society, Amateur Astronomers Inc., New Jersey Astronomical Association, NY Amateur Astronomers Association, Columbia Astronomy)
  • How to Build a Supermassive Black Hole (North Jersey Astronomical Group, Rockland Astronomy Club, Mid-Hudson Astronomical Association, Astronomy on Tap, Shapley Lecture at UW-Whitewater, Science Club Nashville)
  • Trekking Through Time: Time Travel in Star Trek (Astronomy on Tap)
  • I am also a competent driver of the Hayden Planetarium, in both English and Spanish.

Contact Me

You can reach me at jbellovary at