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Hello there, I am Michael

Michael Medford, Ph.D

Staff Software Engineer at Aumni, a JPMorgan Chase Company

I am an astrophysicist that loves building massive data processing pipelines that solve intractable problems. I have applied these skills to a diverse set of challenges ranging from scaling R&D products on cloud infrastructure to constructing calibration pipelines for the world’s largest telescopes. I am at my best when working alongside other passionate collaborators toward a common goal.

Northwestern University: Bachelor of Science in Physics & Theatre
UC Berkeley: Ph.D in Astronomy & Astrophysics
Aumni: Staff Software Engineer
BS: Physics & Theatre
Ph.D: Astronomy & Astrophysics
Staff Software Engineer



Aumni, a JPMorgan Chase Company

October 2022 - Present, Salt Lake City, UT

Aumni gives you instant access to the most reliable financial and legal insights across your portfolio, sourced directly from your executed legal agreements.

Staff Software Engineer

July 2023 - Present

  • Redesigned our backend architecture with management, product and engineering to enable flow in stream-aligned teams
  • Developed a migration plan to maintain 100% uptime while refactoring our Ruby on Rails monolith into a set of independent services within the JPMorgan ecosystem
  • Constructed contract testing framework to ensure independent deployability in collaboration with our Testing Enablement Team
Senior Software Engineer and Technical Lead

October 2022 - June 2023

  • Designed, documented and deployed to production an independent microservice for indexing millions of documents into OpenSearch in only 6 weeks
  • Invented an SQL unit test framework supported by a file parsing library on top of our core business logic
  • Overhauled the infrastructure and tooling for developer data synchronization to reduce sync time from 15 minutes to 20 seconds

Planet Labs

November 2020 - October 2022, San Francisco, CA

Planet provides daily satellite data that helps businesses, governments, researchers, and journalists understand the physical world and take action.

Technical Lead of Planet Fusion Monitoring Pod

March 2022 - October 2022

  • Architected 10x increase in our daily processing to 595 TB while cutting per unit costs 80% in four months
  • 98% reduction in database query latency & CPU utilization via SQL schema & query optimization
  • Cut GCS & AWS data delivery processing overhead by 30x using batched GCP pubsub messages
  • Moved team into a bi-weekly sprint structure with ticket triage, sprint retrospectives and sprint planning
Geospatial Software Engineer

June 2021 - October 2022

  • Implemented automated data backups & disaster recovery via terraform to comply with ISO certification • Set up on-call notifications by integrating Sentry, PagerDuty and Slack into our Python & Go stack
  • Created a comprehensive cost estimate method to measure profit margin goals for our product teams
  • Coordinated several refactors across our Compute, Pipeline and Infrastructure teams to facilitate growth
Part-time Geospatial Software Engineer

November 2020 - May 2021

  • Enabled end-to-end development by connecting our React front-end, Go orchestrator & Python scripts
  • Conducted our largest scale test to date, giving the green light to onboard new customer contracts
  • Transitioned change detection algorithm to parallelized cloud context for a 100x speedup in E2E runtime

Founder & Tutor
Renaissance tutoring

September 2011 - June 2015, Chicago, IL

A tutoring agency that focused on communication, empathy, and creative thinking to help students gain fundamental understanding and successful problem solving strategies

  • Instructed students pursuing high school, undergraduate, and post-baccalaureate degrees in physics, chemistry, and mathematics (including AP, SAT, SAT II, ACT, and MCAT exams)

Co-founder, Managing Director & Actor
The Poor Theatre

September 2012 - June 2015, Chicago, IL

An ensemble based theatre company that presents high-quality and engaging productions from America’s up and coming new playwrights

  • Founded a company that worked with over 100 artists and had over 1000 audience attendees
  • Acted in over fifty stage productions and films throughout the Chicago-land area
  • Completed training at The Artistic Home & Improv Olympic (Chicago), and the British American Drama Academy (Oxford)


Ph.D in Astronomy & Astrophysics
GPA: 3.79 out of 4
Extracurricular Activities:
  • Awarded $130,000 by winning the UC-National Lab In-Resident Graduate Fellowship at Lawrence Livermore National Lab
  • Lead instructor of graduate student mentorship program for 3 years
  • Lead instructor of required graduate student pedagogy training course for 3 years
BS in Theatre & Physics
GPA: 3.75 out of 4
Extracurricular Activities:


Owner Aug 2019 - Apr 2021

ZTF Object Reader Tool is a set of functions to organize and access the ZTF Public Data Release lightcurves across multiple colors.

Owner Nov 2020 - Apr 2021

Pipeline software used to remove atmospheric fringes from optimal astronomical images. Official stage in the Zwicky Transient Facility i-band data reduction pipeline running on 50,000+ images per night.

Developer Aug 2017 - Apr 2021

A Milky Way microlensing simulation code that stellar evolution, dust models and observation effects to identify optimal strategies for microlensing detections.


60 Microlensing Events from the Three Years of Zwicky Transient Facility Phase One

We conduct the first multiyear search for microlensing events on the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF), an all-sky optical synoptic survey that observes the entire visible northern sky every few nights. We discover 60 high-quality microlensing events in the 3 yr of ZTF-I using the bulk lightcurves in the ZTF Public Data Release 5. 19 of our events are found outside of the Galactic plane, nearly doubling the number of previously discovered events in the stellar halo from surveys pointed toward the Magellanic Clouds and the Andromeda galaxy.

Removing Atmospheric Fringes from Zwicky Transient Facility i-band Images using Principal Component Analysis

Here we present a method for constructing models of these atmospheric fringes using Principal Component Analysis that can be used to identify and remove these artifacts from contaminated images. In addition, we present the Uniform Background Indicator as a quantitative measurement of the reduced correlated background noise and photometric error present after removing fringes. We conclude by evaluating the effect of our method on measuring faint sources through the injection and recovery of artificial stars in both single-image epochs and co-additions. Our method for constructing atmospheric fringe models and applying those models to produce cleaned images is available for public download in the open source Python package fringez.

Gravitational Microlensing Event Statistics for the Zwicky Transient Facility

We predict that the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF), an all-sky optical synoptic survey that observes the entire visible northern sky every few nights, will observe ∼1100 microlensing events in 3 yr of observing within 10° latitude of the Galactic plane, with ∼500 events in the outer Galaxy (ℓ ≥ 10°). Using the microlensing modeling software PopSyCLE, we compare the microlensing populations in the Galactic bulge and the outer Galaxy. We also present an analysis of the microlensing event ZTF18abhxjmj to demonstrate how to leverage these population statistics in event modeling.

Transformations from Pan-STARRS1 and UBV Filters into ZTF Filters

The Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF) is an optical time-domain survey that surveys the visible Northern sky every few nights in ZTF g-band and r-band, as well as an i-band filter used only for partnership observations and thus absent from this analysis. Transformations between the photometric systems of ZTF, Pan-STARRS1 (PS1), and Johnson–Morgan–Cousins (UBV) are essential for extending both the time-baseline and wavelength coverage of ZTF catalogs with information from other catalogs. We use cross-matching catalogs and simple stellar population synthesis models to derive photometric transformations from PS1 and UBV to ZTF.


September 2007 - June 2015

Over my four years living in Chicago I performed in nine shows, acted in five films, assistant directed three productions, and taken over a dozen classes in acting for the stage, film, improv and Meisner technique. In 2012, along with several other theatre artists, I founded The Poor Theatre as a way to build such an ensemble. We strove to explore those parts of the human experience often overlooked. We worked to give voice to stories that often go unheard. My contributions to the company were both as a member of the acting ensemble and the Managing Director, before I left the company in 2015.

Physics Teacher
July 2011 - June 2015

I tutored high school, undergraduate, and post-baccalaureate students in physics and astronomy in my years between Northwestern and UC Berkeley. My teaching style is greatly informed by my time spent as an actor, where I learned that communication is a skill one develops and hones with practice. My time has also been spent working to develop physics and robotics programs for middle and high school students in Evanston, IL (Northwestern University Center for Talent Development) and Oak Park, IL (Oak Park Education Foundation). Using all facets of STEM curriculum, I worked with students to analytically, strategically and cooperatively design, engineer, build, program, test and operate competition robots.