I'm an experimental astrophysicist working in the field of exoplanet imaging. The goals of my research group are detection and characterization of planets around other stars, and we pursue these goals by building, developing, and using new instruments.

Previously to joining the faculty of the IfA, I was an optical engineer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab, working on developing the WFIRST Coronagraph, formation flying for the Starshade mission, and wavefront sensing for large ground-based telescopes. I also led small a team in developing new post-processing algorithms for exoplanet imaging.

I received a PhD in astrophysics from Caltech and did my undergraduate work at Columbia.

Research areas

My group's research is a mix of science and engineering, on the ground and in space, mainly towards the goal of imaging and characterizing extrasolar planets.

High contrast imaging of circumstellar regions

Detector development and characterization

Wavefront control for extreme adaptive optics

Exoplanet image processing algorithms

Spacecraft formation flying

Research Group

Interested students are always welcome to contact me.

Group members Frequent collaborators Former students
  • Kenji Emerson (Postbacc student, now grad student at IfA)
  • Savanna Guertin (REU student, now senior at Sac. State)
  • Leo Neat (REU student, now at Google)
  • Megan Davis (REU student, now NSF fellow at UConn)


Current and upcoming courses
  • (not teaching Fall 2021)
Former courses taught/workshops organized
  • Computational Physics (UH, spring 2020)
  • Deep learning for computer vision (UH, spring 2020)
  • Direct imaging mini workshop (UH, winter 2019)
  • Space optical engineering systems (Caltech, spring 2018)
  • Stellar physics, Interstellar medium, Instrumentation Lab (Caltech, 2014-16)


I regularly participate in public outreach at local schools and community centers.

Upcoming events
  • "Starshade formation flying: sensing and control," talk at NASA HQ
  • "The exciting frontiers of exoplanet exploration," (Public talk)
        Imiloa Astronomy Center, June 19 2020, Hilo
  • Astroday
  •     Prince Kuhio Plaza, May 2 2020, Hilo
  • "Imaging other Earths with secondhand spy satellites and starshades," (Public talk)
        UH Manoa college of engineering, March 13 2020, Honolulu
  • Journey through the Universe
        Ha'aheo Elementary School, March 13 2020, Hilo

News and Press

  • (Sept 2021) Graduate student Sam Walker joins our group. Welcome Sam!
  • (June 2021) Our group awarded a Mt. Cuba Astronomical Foundation grant for "Smartphone calibration systems for high-precision astrometry"
  • (June 2021) Grad students Miles Lucas and Jingwen Zhang pass their 699-2 projects. Congratulations!
  • (May 2021) UH Hilo undergrad Aidan Walk joins our group. Welcome Aidan!
  • (April 2021) Michael Bottom appointed to NASA's Exoplanet Exploration Program Analysis Group Executive Committee
  • (Sept 2020) Grad student Miles Lucas passed his 699-1 research project. Congrats Miles!
  • (August 2020) Our group awarded an NSF Advanced Technologies and Instrumentation grant for "Advanced Wavefront Sensing and Control for Exoplanet Imaging at W.M. Keck Observatory". Press release here.
  • (June 2020) Press release about our AU Mic planet discovery here.
  • (May 2020) Former REU student Megan Davis awarded an NSF graduate research fellowship. Congrats Megan!
  • (Feb 2020) Our group awarded grant by Heising-Simons Foundation for "Enabling a New Era of Direct Imaging and Spectroscopy." (Press release coming soon.)
  • Starshade formation flying published Jan. 2020. Popular press discussions in Popular Mechanics, Space.com, Fox News, Universe Today

Contact Me

Email is the best way to reach me; (first initial)(last name) at hawaii dot edu