I develop novel astronomical techniques to detect and characterize planets orbiting other stars. My group is currently focussed on identifying temperate rocky planets that pass in front of small nearby stars. Once identified, the atmospheres of such worlds can be probed with upcoming ground and space-based observatories to search for the molecules produced by life. These low-mass, red-dwarf stars present unique challenges for habitability, such as their magnetic activity, ultra-violet emission, and low-luminosities. We are pursuing a better understanding of the physical processes by which these stars generate their magnetic fields and high-energy emission, and how they spin down as they age.

Awards and Achievements

  • The Raymond and Beverly Sackler Prize in the Physical Sciences ( 2012)
  • Fannie Cox Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching, Harvard University ( 2011)
  • Alan T. Waterman Award, National Science Foundation ( 2009)
  • Scientist of the Year, Discover Magazine ( 2007)
  • David and Lucile Packard Fellowship for Science and Engineering ( 2006)
  • NASA Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal ( 2006)
  • Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow ( 2006)
  • Robert J. Trumpler Award, Astronomical Society of the Pacific ( 2004)
  • Bart J. Bok Prize in Astronomy, Harvard University ( 2004)
  • Fireman Award for PhD Thesis in Astronomy, Harvard University ( 2000)
  • National Academy of Sciences
  • American Academy of Arts & Sciences
  • Blavatnik National Laureate

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