Hello! My name is Erica! Here’s some facts about myself:

I am a PhD candidate at the University of Hawaii, Manoa at the Institute for Astronomy

I am a Hispanic-Asian American and a first-generation college student.

I have research experience in extra-galactic, stellar, and planetary astronomy

I work with Dr. Karen Meech on my thesis which is about characterizing the activity of long period comets to understand how the solar system formed.

I am currently the Graduate Student Representative in my Department.

Besides astronomy, I enjoy writing, drawing, chihuahuas, post-apocalyptic movies and indie horror games.

I go by she/her pronouns and I am a feminist.


Links to talks about my research are listed below:

Research Project 1

Research Project 2

Thesis Proposal


Outreach Video for MKO@home about the Scale Solar System:

Outreach Video for MKO@home about Constellations:

Lunar Phases Activity:

Description of Research for ARCS Awards 2021:



  • 2018 Institute for Astronomy Best Research Project
  • 2019 Institute for Astronomy Best Research Project
  • 2019 SACNAS Best Graduate Research Presentation Award
  • 2021 Soroptimist Founder Region Fellowship
  • 2021 Hannah Liebreich Graduate Student Organization Award in Teaching
  • 2021 George and Mona Elmore ARCS Research Award
  • 2021 ARCS Scholar of the Year

Erica Bufanda

PhD Candidate
B.S. Astrophysics 2015, UC Santa Cruz
M.S. Astronomy 2019, University of Hawaii
IfA Mānoa, B-227