Image Credit: NASA

Image Credit: NASA


General Research Interests:

  • Exoplanets and planetary science
  • Intersection between theoretical & observational astronomy
  • Cosmochemistry 
  • Astrobiology and life beyond Earth
  • Brown dwarfs 

UC Santa Cruz (2017-Today)

  • The main objectives of my current research project are to create a flexible exoplanet atmosphere modeling tool with a focus on (super-)Earth-sized (1-4 R⊕) planets in the habitable zone around M and K stars, and to use this tool to aid in identifying the best targets from NASA’s TESS and ongoing ground-based surveys for follow-up observations with JWST and future large-aperture telescopes such as TMT, GMT and E-ELT.  Next-generation instruments on upcoming space and ground telescopes, such as WFIRST and TMT, will have the ability to measure spectroscopy of varying resolutions. To maximize the scientific return of these instruments, particularly for atmospheric characterization of small, habitable-zone exoplanets, I will help determine the best way to combine such variable levels of resolution spectroscopy by simulating data from an instrument that will go on one of the near-future large-aperture telescopes.  This proposed research will help make quantitative predictions regarding planet habitability beyond the solar system by characterizing the atmospheres of exoplanets in the habitable zones of their host stars.

Carnegie Institution for Science (DTM) Research (2016-2017 Academic Year)

  • 9-month Astronomy Research Trainee position under the mentorship of Drs. Alycia Weinberger and Alan Boss.  Analyzing data of an unusually warm, dusty debris disk around a binary star system (BD +20 307) from the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) and comparing this epoch of data to two earlier epochs taken with Spitzer and Keck/Gemini to see if we can understand the evolution of this system's dust (Thompson et al. in prep). Also conducting analysis for the Carnegie Astrometric Planet Search program which hopes to astrometrically detect exoplanets and brown dwarf companions using data from the CAPSCam camera on the 2.5-meter du Pont Telescope at the Las Campanas Observatory in Chile, and combining data from CAPSCam with that from the recent Gaia satellite data release.  

Undergraduate Senior Thesis Research (2015-2016 Academic Year)

  • 8-month Senior Thesis research project under the mentorship of Professor David Spergel. Developed an original approximate model to aid in the astrometric detection and characterization of multiple exoplanet systems. Wrote Python code to model stellar motion in over 50 hypothetical two- and three-exoplanet systems and incorporated a least-squares fit program to assess its efficiency in planet characterization.