Benjamin Davis

Research Associate Affiliation: NYU Abu Dhabi
Email: ben.davis@nyu.edu
Education: BS Pittsburg State University; PhD University of Arkansas

Research Areas: Structure and Dynamics of Galaxies; Black Hole Mass Scaling Relations; Galaxy Evolution


Benjamin Davis is a Research Associate at New York University Abu Dhabi, who joined as a new CAP³ Fellow in September 2020. Ben completed his undergraduate studies in Mathematics, Physics, and Music at Pittsburg State University in 2008. Dr Davis earned his doctorate at the University of Arkansas in 2015, under the guidance of his doctoral advisor, Dr Julia Kennefick. After earning his PhD, he remained in Arkansas and taught as a Visiting Assistant Professor of Physics at both the University of Arkansas and Arkansas Tech University. In 2016, Ben relocated to Melbourne, Australia, and began a postdoctoral position at Swinburne University of Technology. While there, he worked with Prof. Alister Graham for four years.

Ben's research involves studying the structure of spiral galaxies. To do this, he examines the geometry of spiral arms, using a suite of custom software he helped design. He also performs multi-component decompositional analysis of galaxies to separate them into their constituent components (i.e., bulge, disk, bar, spiral arms, nucleus, etc.). With this detailed knowledge of galaxy composition and geometry, he can then construct accurate black hole mass scaling relations that yield mass predictions for central massive black holes in galaxies. By conducting a census of black hole demography in galaxies, future studies can better understand the intimate relationship between central black holes and their host galaxies, and garner information about their coevolution.

Ben's recent research pursuits include using the aforementioned black hole mass scaling relations to predict galaxies that harbor intermediate-mass black holes (IMBHs). Given the current paucity of information on IMBHs, any newly discovered IMBHs will significantly increase the sample size of known IMBHs. The dearth of IMBHs (100 to 100,000 solar masses) poses a large gap in our knowledge of black hole evolution from stellar-mass black holes (<100 solar masses) up to supermassive black holes (>100,000 solar masses). The proper contribution of IMBHs to the black hole mass function will provide an enhanced understanding of the coevolution of galaxies and black holes.