Hi! I am a second-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 am broadly interested in direct imaging of circumstellar disks and exoplanets to better understand planet formation and the architecture of planetary systems. My first-year project was with Dr. Jonathan Williams on high contrast multiwavelength imaging of a debris disk, using data from the newly installed Subaru Coronographic Extreme Adaptive Optics (SCEx-AO) instrument, in a bid to understand disk structure and features, if any that will help us constrain early planet formation. Currently, I am working with Dr. Michael Bottom on developing a focal-plane wavefront algorithm for Keck to suppress speckle noise in high-contrast imaging of exoplanets.       
I was led to my current research through a combination of my classes and various undergraduate research projects that came under an umbrella of fossils of the Solar System. Having mapped meteorite samples and studied their mineral composition (with Prof. Kevin McKeegan, UCLA), constructed and analyzed models of condensation on planetary embryos (with Prof. David Stevenson, Caltech), and reduced cometary images to understand their morphology and study their activity (with Prof. David Jewitt), I indeed developed a greater appreciation of our neighborhood that I wanted to further study planetary systems and how they come to be.  
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 posters and oral presentations in conferences, symposiums, and seminars. I have participated in various outreach activities as a grad student around Hawaii catering to people of all ages and interests. 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!



  • 699-1: SCEXAO/CHARIS Multi-Wavelength High Contrast Imaging of a Debris Disk (Advisor: Jonathan Williams)
  • 699-2: Focal Plane Speckle Suppression at Keck (Advisor: Michael Bottom)


  • 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
  • SCEXAO/CHARIS Multi-Wavelength High Contrast Imaging of a Debris Disk
  • Focal Plane Speckle Suppression at Keck
IfA Mānoa, C-225