Mugshot of myself.

Richard Plotkin



phone: 775-784-6508

office: Leifson Physics 308

I am an Assistant Professor in the Physics Department at the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR). My research uses multiwavelength space- and ground-based observations to study black hole accretion and relativistic jets, over the full range of black hole masses and accretion rates (from quiescent to super-Eddington). My main research goal is to better understand the structure/geometry of accretion flows and outflows in different accretion regimes, in order to more effectively use radiation as a probe of Galactic and extragalactic black hole populations.

Please feel free to email me, especially if you are a prospective student interested in black hole research at UNR!

Group News

  • May 2021 - Donna DePolo was selected as an REU summer student at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Socorro, NM. Congratulations!

  • April 2021 - Many congratulations to Alexis Tudor, who was awarded the 2021 Outstanding Graduate Researcher Award for Master's students from UNR's Graduate Student Association.

  • April 2021 - Congratulations to Alexis Tudor for successfully defending her Masters Thesis in Computer Science & Engineering! Alexis has now publically released Photometry+, the product of her thesis to provide a user-friendly interface for performing differential photometry with the Great Basin Observatory, the result of an interdisciplinary project in human-computer interaction with Prof. Sergiu Dascalu in CSE. Alexis also placed 3rd in the Master's category of UNR's Three Minute Thesis competition for this work!

  • March 2021 - Congratulations to Ava Covington for being selected as an American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO) ambassador!

  • March 2021 - Our group had a lot of fun talking (over Zoom) about black holes with Mrs. Owens' 2nd grade class at John C. Fremont Elemenatry School in Carson City. What amazing questions the kids came up with. Thank you Miles Owens for setting this up, and thank you Mrs. Owens for letting us join your class!

  • December 2020 --- Ava Covington was awarded a Nevada Undergraduate Research Award, which includes funding for Ava to continue her research on intermediate polars during the Spring 2021 semester. Congratulations to Ava and her mentor Aarran Shaw!

  • October 2020 --- Alexis Tudor was awarded the 2020 Great Basin Observatory Scholarship Award. Congratulations Alexis!

  • September 2020 --- NASA wrote a news release on Aarran Shaw's recently published NuSTAR Legacy Survey, where he measured the masses of magnetic cataclysmic variables and showed they are more massive than non-magnetic ones (paper).

  • April-May 2020 --- Three of our group members, Matthew Neill, Aarran Shaw, and Alexis Tudor, gave "virutal coffee talks" on how they are using the Great Basin Observatory for their research. Check them out!

  • March 2020 --- Rich Plotkin contributed VLA observations to a paper in Nature Astronomy on long-lived superluminal ejecta from a black hole X-ray binary, with a story appearing in Nevada Today. This work was led by Joe Bright, a PhD student at the University of Oxford (paper).