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“Science is a way of thinking much more than it is a body of knowledge.” -Carl Sagan

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Hello, I am researcher at Lowell Observatory, working toward my master’s degree in applied physics at Northern Arizona University. I recently earned a degree in both Astronomy and Physics at the University of Arizona, and I have experience working with a large portion of the electromagnetic spectrum, ranging from optical to near-IR to radio wavelengths. I am a certified operator for the Kuiper 61″ Telescope atop Mt. Bigelow, Arizona, where I run my own observational campaigns. My passion is to engage in an up-and-coming topic in astronomy and planetary science, which focuses on unraveling the mystery of alien worlds beyond our own solar system called, extra-solar planets. Since their discovery in the mid-90’s, the number of known exoplanets has shot up into the thousands with the help of the NASA Kepler Mission, which utilized the transit method to recover a large sample of planet candidates. I am particularly interested in using this method to characterize atmospheres of these bodies by transit photometry and spectroscopy. One reason I find the field of exoplanet research so exciting is astronomers are rapidly developing techniques for observing these bodies, helping to acquire new and/or increasingly precise measurements of exoplanetary properties.  Our ever-increasing observational capabilities help pave the way for a bright future in exoplanet research, these results are sure to inform our understanding of the origins and evolution of planetary systems such as our own.

KittPeakI have many other research interests that go hand in hand with my enthusiasm for exoplanet characterization. For example, properties of the stars that host planets play an important role when observing transiting planets because we can only limit the planetary parameters to the extent that the star’s are known.  Bright, M dwarf stars are particular advantageous to study because these systems yield a larger planet-to-star radius ratio, allowing for more precise constraints on planets that are small, and may be Earth-like in nature.

My interests also lie in stellar formation and molecular abundances of clouds that may one day form planetary systems. I’ve participated in carrying out the first full astrochemical survey that compares deuteration rates in the complete core population within a single molecular cloud. I hope to build upon these skills to help bridge the gap between a star’s initial formation and the eventual development of its planetary companion(s).

Following my experience with an REU (Research Experience for Undergrads) program at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, CO, I have a new-found interest in the interplanetary medium, particularly its effect on potentially habitable planets because star-planet interaction may play a crucial role in the likelihood of planets harboring life at all.

Last updated: 07/28/2015