Headshot of Richard Plotkin

Richard Plotkin

Assistant Professor He/him/his


  • 2019 - present, Assistant Professor, Physics Department, University of Nevada, Reno
  • 2015-2019, Research Fellow/Senior Research Fellow, International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research-Curtin University, Perth, Australia
  • 2012-2015, Research Fellow, Department of Astronomy, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
  • 2009-2012, Postdoc, Anton Pannekoek Institute for Astronomy, University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Classes taught

  • AST 310, Astrophysical Measurements
  • AST 410, Astrophysics

Research interests

My research uses multiwavelength space- and ground-based observations to study a wide variety of phenomena related to accreting black holes, over the full range of black hole masses and accretion rates. 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, and to learn how black holes may impact their large-scale environments.

My interests include:

  • quiescent black hole X-ray binaries
  • low-luminosity active galactic nuclei
  • quasars
  • relativistic jets
  • X-ray populations in nearby galaxies

I often use the following telescopes:

  • Chandra X-ray Telescope (NASA; X-ray)
  • Hubble Space Telescope (NASA; optical/ultraviolet)
  • Very Large Array (National Radio Astronomy Observatory; radio)
  • Great Basin Observatory (0.7 m robotic optical telescope in Great Basin National Park)


  • PhD, Astronomy, University of Washington, Seattle, 2009
  • M.S., Astronomy, University of Washington, Seattle, 2004
  • B.S., Astronomy & Physics, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, 2003

Select recent refereed first-author publications

“Radio Variability from a Quiescent Stellar Mass Black Hole Jet”

  • Plotkin, R. M., Miller-Jones, J. C. A., Chomiuk, L, Strader, J., Bruzewski, S., Bundas, A., Smith, K. R., Ruan, J. J.. ApJ, 874, 1

“Up and Down the Black Hole Radio/X-ray Correlation: the 2017 mini-outbursts from Swift J1753.5-0127”

  • Plotkin, R. M., Bright, J., Shaw, A. W., Tomsick, J. A., Russell, T. D., Zhang, G.-B., Russell, D. M., Fender, R. P., Homan, J., Atri, P., Bernardini, F., Gelfand, J. D., Lewis, F., Cantwell, T. M., Carey, S. H., Grainge, K. J. B., Hickish, J., Perrott, Y. C., Razavi-Ghods, N., Scaife, A. M. M., Scott, P. F., Titterington, D. J., ApJ, 848, 92.

“The 2015 Decay of the Black Hole X-ray Binary V404 Cygni: Robust Disk-jet Coupling and a Sharp Transition into Quiescence”

  • Plotkin, R. M., Miller-Jones, J. C. A., Gallo, E., Jonker, P. G., Homan, J., Tomsick, J. A., Kaaret, P., Russell, D. M., Heinz, S., Hodges-Kluck, E. J., Markoff, S., Sivakoff, G. R., Altamirano, D., Neilsen, J., ApJ, 834, 104.

“The X-ray Properties of Million Solar Mass Black Holes at Low-Eddington Ratios”

  • Plotkin, R. M., Gallo, E., Haardt, F., Miller, B. P., Reines, A. E., Wu, J., Greene, J. E.,  ApJ, 825, 139.

“A Clean Sightline to Quiescence: Multiwavelength Observations of the High Galactic Latitude Black Hole X-ray Binary Swift J1357.2-0933”

  • Plotkin, R. M., Gallo, E., Jonker, P. G., Miller-Jones, J. C. A., Homan, J., Munoz-Darias, T., Markoff, S., Armas Padilla, M., Fender, R., Rushton, A. P., Russell, D. M., Torres, M. A. P., 2015, MNRAS, 456, 2707.

“Detection of Rest-frame Optical Lines from X-shooter Spectroscopy of Weak Emission Line Quasars” (ADS)

  • Plotkin, R. M., Shemmer, O., Trakhtenbrot, B., Anderson, S. F., Brandt, W. N., Fan, X., Gallo, E., Lira, P., Luo, B., Richards, G. T., Schneider, D. P., Strauss, M. A., Wu, J., 2015, ApJ, 805, 123.

“Constraints on Relativistic Jets in Quiescent Black Hole X-ray Binaries from Broadband Spectral Modeling” (ADS)

  • Plotkin, R. M., Gallo, E., Markoff, S., Homan, J., Jonker, P. G., Miller-Jones, J. C. A., Russell, D. M., Drappeau, S., 2015 MNRAS, 446, 4098.