About

Aloha! I am a non-traditional, first-generation graduate student at the Institute for Astronomy at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa. I am pursuing my PhD in Astronomy under advisor Daniel Huber that focuses on exoplanets orbiting asteroseismic stars. I am currently funded by the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program (NSF GRFP), which has enabled me to do part of my PhD at MIT, working with Sara Seager. I have been working with her on target selection for a Small Sat Concept Study looking for nearby Earth analogues which was recently selected by NASA for a one year concept study.

Research

Ph.D. Topic

Topic: Precise Stellar and Planet Properties in the Kepler, K2, & TESS Era
Committee: Daniel Huber(Chair), Christoph Baranec, Eric Gaidos, Andrew Howard, Michael Liu, Sara Seager, Jennifer Van Saders

I use space-based photometry (a measure of an object’s brightness in time) to simultaneously detect stellar oscillations and transiting exoplanets. In doing so, we can characterize both the host star and planet to unprecedented precision. This exoplanet-asteroseismology synergy has only been made possible through missions like Kepler, K2, and TESS.

The study of stellar oscillations, or asteroseismology, uses information from stellar sound waves that traverse the interior of a star to infer things about its size, mass, age, and internal structure. Our collaborators at the University of Birmingham made an awesome video that summarizes asteroseismology and what it can do for space science.

More than 99% of the planets that we find outside our solar system, or extrasolar planets, are detected indirectly. That means that we are measuring the effect that an orbiting planet has on its host star. As a result, we only know about the planet as well as we know about the star. Therefore, precise host star characterization is critical to better understand the planets that orbit them.

My first, first-author paper discusses a recent planet discovery that was only made possible through the recharacterization of a star using asteroseismology. The planet ended up being special, both because it was the Kepler mission’s first new planet detection and because it was scientifically interested as well. The paper was recently published in the Astronomical Journal, which was coordinated with a press release from NASA. Some links of the press release are listed below:

NASA
CNN
Universe Today
Science News
Space.com
University of Hawai’i
Harvard
University of Birmingham

It was even featured in a couple of local newspapers, both in Hawai’i and in my hometown of Saugerties, NY. I even had the opportunity to talk about my discovery on Hawai’i public radio. You can download and listen to the clip here.

Publications

  • A Super-Earth and a Sub-Neptune Orbiting the Bright, Quiet M3 Dwarf TOI-1266
  • Physical Parameters of the Multi-Planet Systems HD 106315 and GJ 9827
  • The TESS-Keck Survey III: A Stellar Obliquity Measurement of TOI-1726 c
  • The TESS-Keck Survey II: Masses of Three Sub-Neptunes Transiting the Galactic Thick-Disk Star TOI-561
  • TOI-1235 b: A Keystone Super-Earth for Testing Radius Valley Emergence Models around Early M Dwarfs
  • The TESS-Keck Survey I: A Warm Sub-Saturn-mass Planet and a Caution about Stray Light in TESS Cameras
  • A Hot Saturn Orbiting an Oscillating Late Subgiant Discovered by TESS
  • The Curious Case of KOI 4: Confirming Kepler's First Exoplanet Detection
  • The Multi-Planet System TOI-421 -- A Warm Neptune and a Super Puffy Mini-Neptune Transiting a G9V Star in a Visual Binary
  • TOI-257b (HD 19916b): A Warm Sub-Saturn on a Moderately Eccentric Orbit Around an Evolved F-type Star
  • Updated Parameters and a New Transmission Spectrum of HD 97658b
  • Asteroseismology of the Multiplanet System K2-93
  • A Super-Earth and Sub-Neptune Transiting the Late-type M Dwarf LP 791-18
  • The Kepler Smear Campaign: Light Curves for 102 Very Bright Stars
  • A Discrete Set of Possible Transit Ephemerides for Two Long-period Gas Giants Orbiting HIP 41378
  • Do Close-in Giant Planets Orbiting Evolved Stars Prefer Eccentric Orbits?
  • Astrometric Confirmation and Preliminary Orbital Parameters of the Young Exoplanet 51 Eridani b with the Gemini Planet Imager

Awards

Grants

  • National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program

Honors

  • Achievement Reward for College Scientists, Columbia Communications Award in Astronomy (Honolulu Chapter - 2019)
  • Friends of the IfA Outreach Award (Mānoa, Hawai'i - 2018)
  • Poster Award, Know Thy Star, Know Thy Planet (Pasadena, California - 2017)
  • Outstanding Outreach Award (Mānoa, Hawai'i - 2017)
  • John C. Mather Nobel Scholar (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center - 2016)

NSF Graduate Research Fellow
M.S. Astronomy 2018, University of Hawai'i at Mānoa
B.S. Mathematics 2016, State University of New York at Albany
B.S. Physics 2016, State University of New York at Albany
  • Asteroseismology of Exoplanet Hosts with Kepler, K2, and TESS
  • Exoplanets Orbiting Subgiants: Benchmark Systems with TESS
IfA Mānoa, C-127