Francesca Fornasini is an astrophysicist whose research focuses on the evolution of black holes, big and small, and other compact objects. She received her PhD in astrophysics from the University of California, Berkeley, where her dissertation research was focused on high-mass X-ray binary systems, which consist of a black hole or neutron star stealing material from a high-mass stellar companion. She is particularly interested in what these binary systems can teach us about how high-mass stars evolve during their lifetimes. After graduating from UC Berkeley, Francesca moved to the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian as a postdoctoral fellow, where she began working on the co-evolution of supermassive black holes and galaxies over cosmic time. To study X-ray binaries and supermassive black holes, she uses observations from X-ray telescopes as well as complementary data from other wavelength bands.

As a graduate student, Francesca was a teaching assistant for two introductory astrophysics courses, and an instructor for a two-week summer physics program for incoming freshmen and a pedagogical course for first-time teaching assistants in astrophysics.  

As an undergraduate at the College of William & Mary, Francesca double-majored in Physics and English. She enjoys interweaving her astronomical and literary interests whenever possible, especially in presenting astronomy to the general public.