Hi! I am a first-year graduate student with a background in planetary science. I am from Dubai, United Arab Emirates (my parents hail from southern India and I was born there), where I lived for 18 years before moving to Los Angeles for my undergraduate degree. So yeah, I have come a long way to where I am today– 13,718 km more or less.

I currently work with Dr. Jonathan Williams on high contrast spectropolarimetric imaging of protoplanetary disks, using data from the newly installed Subaru Coronographic Extreme Adaptive Optics (SCEx-AO) instrument, in a bid to understand disk structure, morphological features, brightness profile, and instability, if any that will help us constrain early planet formation.

My various undergraduate research projects all have a common theme– fossils of the Solar System. Having mapped meteorite samples and studied their mineral composition, constructing and analyzing models of condensation on planetary embryos, and reducing cometary images to understand their morphology and study their activity, I certainly developed a greater appreciation of our neighborhood that I wanted to further study planetary systems and how they come to be.

I am lucky to have been mentored and guided by some distinguished faculty during my undergraduate career in both classes and research (my first research advisor Prof. Kevin McKeegan-NAS Smith medal awardee, my senior thesis Prof. David Jewitt who’s known for the discovery of Kuiper Belt, and one of my first astronomy professors, McArthur genius and Nobel laureate Prof. Andrea Ghez, to name a few), all of who have nourished my curiosity and taught me various aspects of academic and research life.

I am keen on communicating my science– what I do and what I have learned– and hence have been involved in various outreach projects besides general posters and oral presentations in conferences, symposiums, and seminars. I have been a regular participant in UCLA’s biggest annual science outreach event, “Explore Your Universe”, and was a docent at the UCLA Meteorite Gallery (the fifth largest collection of meteorites in the United States, and the second-largest housed at a university), as well as in science fairs and telescope viewings in university, in an amateur astronomy group and a national research facility. I am also a part of the global “Skype-a-Scientist” network, where we give talks to various groups, primarily classrooms, about our field and our research

When I am not sciencing (which happens to be a lot more often than one may assume), I love reading, writing (a mix of blogging on Medium and my social media, as well as story writing), art and photography, solving puzzles (crosswords, jigsaw puzzles, and the like), and some physical activity–from a brisk walk to a long hike, and table tennis.. all of which keep me hale and hearty, besides chocolate and coffee!


  • ASTR 110: Survey of Astronomy (Fall 2021, Spring 2022)

Maria Vincent

BS Geophysics (highest honors)
BS Astrophysics (highest honors)
(magna cum laude)
University of California, Los Angeles, 2020
  • High Contrast Spectropolarimetric Imaging of Protoplanetary Disks
IfA Mānoa, C-225