Sciences and Exploration Directorate

Jenna Cann



Org Code: 662

Mail Code: 662
Greenbelt, MD 20771


Brief Bio

Jenna Cann studies active galactic nuclei in dwarf and low metallicity galaxies, with both theoretical and observational projects. They use the photoionization code, Cloudy, to simulate the emission from black holes of various masses (particularly those in the intermediate mass range; 100 - 10,000 MSun) to determine the best diagnostics to find black holes in extreme environments. She also uses data from Keck and Gemini to assess the efficacy of these diagnostics.


NSF Graduate Research Fellow

George Mason University - Fairfax, VA

August 2017 - May 2021

Dissertation: Local Relics - The Hunt for Intermediate Mass Black Holes

Advisor: Shobita Satyapal

NASA Postdoctoral Fellow

Universities Space Research Association - NASA Goddard, Greenbelt, MD

June 2021 - Present


PhD in Physics - George Mason University (2021)

B.S. in Astronomy - George Mason University (2017)

A.S. in Math - Northern Virginia Community College (2013)

Professional Service

Leadership, AGN Science Interest Group (Cosmic Origins)

NGAPS+ co-officer (Advocacy, DEIA subcommittees)

Co-founder of Spectrum, DEIA club and mentoring program at George Mason University Department of Physics

Co-lead Early Career Working Group, NASA SMD Bridge Program Workshop (Fall 2022)


2022 ASD Peer Award (NASA Goddard Astrophysics Science Division, July 2022)

Dean's Award for Excellence in Service (George Mason University, May 2021)

Outstanding Physics PhD Dissertation (George Mason University, May 2021)

National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow (NSF GRFP, Sept 2017 - May 2021)

Dean's Award for Excellence (George Mason University, April 2019)

Selected Publications


Cann, J. M., S. Satyapal, B. Rothberg, et al. G. Canalizo, T. Bohn, S. LaMassa, W. Matzko, L. Blecha, N. J. Secrest, A. Seth, T. Böker, R. O. Sexton, L. Kamal, and H. Schmitt. 2021. Relics of Supermassive Black Hole Seeds: The Discovery of an Accreting Black Hole in an Optically Normal, Low Metallicity Dwarf Galaxy The Astrophysical Journal Letters 912 (1): L2 [10.3847/2041-8213/abf56d]

Satyapal, S., L. Kamal, J. M. Cann, N. J. Secrest, and N. P. Abel. 2021. The Diagnostic Potential of JWST in Characterizing Elusive AGNs The Astrophysical Journal 906 (1): 35 [10.3847/1538-4357/abbfaf]

Cann, J. M., S. Satyapal, T. Bohn, et al. R. O. Sexton, R. W. Pfeifle, C. Manzano-King, G. Canalizo, B. Rothberg, M. Gliozzi, N. J. Secrest, and L. Blecha. 2020. Multiwavelength Observations of SDSS J105621.45+313822.1, a Broad-line, Low-metallicity AGN The Astrophysical Journal 895 (2): 147 [10.3847/1538-4357/ab8b64]

Pfeifle, R. W., S. Satyapal, C. Manzano-King, et al. J. Cann, R. O. Sexton, B. Rothberg, G. Canalizo, C. Ricci, L. Blecha, S. L. Ellison, M. Gliozzi, N. J. Secrest, A. Constantin, and J. B. Harvey. 2019. A Triple AGN in a Mid-infrared Selected Late-stage Galaxy Merger The Astrophysical Journal 883 (2): 167 [10.3847/1538-4357/ab3a9b]

Pfeifle, R. W., S. Satyapal, N. J. Secrest, et al. M. Gliozzi, C. Ricci, S. L. Ellison, B. Rothberg, J. Cann, L. Blecha, J. K. Williams, and A. Constantin. 2019. Buried Black Hole Growth in IR-selected Mergers: New Results from Chandra The Astrophysical Journal 875 (2): 117 [10.3847/1538-4357/ab07bc]

Cann, J. M., S. Satyapal, N. P. Abel, et al. L. Blecha, R. F. Mushotzky, C. S. Reynolds, and N. J. Secrest. 2019. The Limitations of Optical Spectroscopic Diagnostics in Identifying Active Galactic Nuclei in the Low-mass Regime The Astrophysical Journal 870 (1): L2 [10.3847/2041-8213/aaf88d]

Cann, J. M., S. Satyapal, N. P. Abel, et al. C. Ricci, N. J. Secrest, L. Blecha, and M. Gliozzi. 2018. The Hunt for Intermediate-mass Black Holes in the JWST Era The Astrophysical Journal 861 (2): 142 [10.3847/1538-4357/aac64a]