Aloha! I'm an astronomy graduate student studying at the Institute for Astronomy at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. I'm primarily interested in the demographics of stars and the exoplanets that they host. I've participated in a wide variety of research projects in a number of astronomical fields, from the analysis of spectra of main sequence stars within our galaxy to spectra of blue supergiants in other galaxies. I have also dabbled a bit in radio astronomy.
I am currently conducting research for my thesis, which is focused on determining the radius, metallicity, and age demographics of Kepler exoplanets by leveraging the ultra-precise parallaxes provided by Gaia Data Release 2. Outside of work, I enjoy hiking, snorkeling, surfing, watching Carolina basketball, playing video games, and fiddling with technology. If you would like to know more information about my work, including my published papers, please keep scrolling!
In my first year at UH, I worked with Dr. Andrew Howard and Dr. Ann Boesgaard to analyze spectra of 1305 Kepler stars for the amount of lithium (A(Li)) in their atmospheres. Comparing A(Li) and exoplanet radii, my work provides evidence that small planets decrease in size as they age. Click here to see the paper.
In my second year at UH, I worked with Dr. Rolf Kudritzki on analyzing spectra of A supergiants stars in IC 1613, a local group dwarf irregular galaxy, to determine the metallicity of and an independent distance to the galaxy. During this project, I learned IDL and how to determine the spectroscopic parameters (effective temperatures, surface gravities, and metallicities) of stars and extragalactic distances. From a comparison of the distribution of metallicities with neutral hydrogen gas, I investigated the galactic chemical evolution of IC 1613. Click here to see the paper. I also worked with Dr. Eugene Magnier on eclipsing binaries in the Andromeda Galaxy. In this project, I produced Keck-DEIMOS multi-object slitmasks and observed eclipsing binaries and additional A supergiant stars to measure the most precise distance yet to the Andromeda Galaxy.
I am currently conducting research for my thesis, Precise Radius, Metallicity, and Age Demographics of Exoplanets in the Gaia Era, with advisors Dr. Daniel Huber, Dr. Jennifer van Saders, and Dr. Eric Gaidos, and my first thesis paper, Revised Radii of Kepler Stars and Planets Using Gaia Data Release 2, is linked here. I have also produced a brand new Kepler Stellar Properties Catalog, which provides homogeneous and precise stellar effective temperatures, surface gravities, metallicities, masses, radii, mean stellar densities, luminosities, and ages for 186,301 Kepler stars. These properties will be useful in the future determination of more precise planet properties and occurrence rates; you can find the paper here. One application of this catalog is to use the precise properties to investigate exoplanet demographics as a function of stellar luminosity, mass, and age. In particular, the location of the planet radius gap shows a positive correlation with stellar mass, and planets within the sub-Neptunian desert have only shifted into the desert as a result of stellar evolution. Most exciting is the first evidence for an age dependence of the planet radius gap! If you're interested in the details of this work, you can find the paper here.
First Author Papers:
During my time at UNC, I engaged in advanced undergraduate research that supplemented my physics and astronomy-heavy undergraduate curriculum. In my first summer, I participated in the annual Educational Research in Radio Astronomy (ERIRA), where I learned how to observe radio targets using a 40-foot transit telescope, calculate the blackbody temperature of the moon, determine the rotation curve of Andromeda using different spectral frequencies, and utilize Fourier transforms to detect the radio signature of a distant pulsar.
I joined Dr. Daniel Reichart's research team following the summer to work on a single-dish mapping algorithm in C++, Python, and MATLAB. I utilized a variety of numerical methods from Fourier transforms to wavelets to piecewise linear regression, in an attempt to model and eliminate artificial large-scale structures such as voltage drift. In addition, I produced interpolated, photometry-ready 2D maps from the 1D scan-separated data.
Undergraduate Honors Thesis:
Successfully defended thesis proposal. Focus is on the radius, metallicity, and age demographics of Kepler exoplanets with the use of Gaia Data Release 2.
Completed and published first (Identifying Young Kepler Planet Host Stars from Keck-HIRES Spectra of Lithium) and second (Quantitative Spectroscopy of Supergiants in the Local Group Dwarf Galaxy IC 1613: Metallicity and Distance) year research projects, succeeded in required and relevant coursework, and passed the qualifying exam.
Completed an Undergraduate Honors Thesis (The Skynet Algorithm for Single-Dish Radio Mapping) and graduated with Highest Honors and highest distinction (GPA > 3.80).