About Me

Welcome!

I am an astrophysicist on the staff of the Smithsonian Institution's Astrophysical Observatory (SAO), part of the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian (CfA), a Lecturer in the Harvard University Department of Astronomy, and the Director of the SAO Radio Telescope Data Center.

I am originally from Park Ridge, Illinois (a suburb of Chicago). I studied physics and mathematics at Northwestern University as an undergraduate, and finished my PhD at the University of Hawai'i in 2007. After that, I came to SAO as a NASA Hubble Fellow before joining the staff in 2010. You can find a condensed version of my CV here.

Outside of work, I like to cook, read (mostly science fiction and biographies), and hike the many quiet trails near our home in suburban Boston.

Research

My research is focused on the formation of planets. Much of this work involves observations of the disks of gas and dust that orbit young stars, primarily using radio interferometer data. You can learn about the details from my ADS library or this recent review article. Currently, most of my effort is invested in four main themes:

(1) substructures

Substructures, small (~AU-scale) perturbations to a smooth distribution of disk material, are thought to be fundamental factors in the transformation of disk material into planetary systems. We find and characterize substructures, primarily with long-baseline (sub-)mm/cm interferometry, to learn more about how they trace ongoing planet formation and/or influence it in the future.

(2) physical conditions

The early evolution of planetary systems are controlled by the physical conditions in their birthsites. We use disk observations and models to try and measure spatial variations in the densities, temperatures, chemical compositions, and dynamics (e.g., turbulence) in disks at various evolutionary states, with the long-term of goal of informing a predictive theory of planet formation.

(3) demographics

A key benchmark for any planet formation model is the ability to (statistically) link various properties of the progenitor (disks) and descendant (exoplanets) populations. With large-scale surveys, we pioneered demographic studies of disks that characterize how their empirical properties (e.g., luminosities, sizes, colors) are connected and depend on the masses, ages, and environments of their stellar hosts.

(4) young stars

Planetary system architectures are influenced by their stellar hosts. To study the origins of those relationships, we need robust constraints on young star properties. We use resolved observations of gas disk velocity fields to make precise, dynamical measurements of young star masses, and compare those results with optical/IR spectroscopy to help calibrate models of early stellar evolution.

Group

Our group at the CfA is a dynamic mix of staff, postdoctoral fellows, and students with common research interests in various aspects of the planet formation process. We meet Friday afternoons (temporarily virtually), in alternating weeks focused on protoplanetary disks (led by myself) or astrochemistry (led by Karin Öberg). Please send me an email if you would like to join us, either regularly or for an occasional opportunity to present your work in an informal setting.

I currently have openings for up to 2 graduate students (research exam and/or dissertation projects), either enrolled at Harvard or from an external PhD program (through the SAO pre-doctoral fellows program). I am always open to collaborations with postdoctoral fellows, and often have openings for undergraduate internships or junior tutorial/senior thesis projects. Please get in touch if you are interested.


> Current graduate students:
  • Elizabeth Yunerman
  • Carlos Muñoz Romero
  • Charles Law

> Student alumni:
  • Jamila Pegues (PhD 2021), now a postdoctoral fellow at STScI
  • Ellen Price (PhD 2021), now a 51 Pegasi b Fellow at University of Chicago
  • Matthew Heising (PhD 2021), now at Tufts University MEd program
  • Jane Huang (PhD 2020), now a Sagan Fellow at University of Michigan
  • Jenny Bergner (PhD 2019), now a Sagan Fellow at University of Chicago
  • Anjali Tripathi (PhD 2018), now the Global Change and Government Lead at JPL
  • Ryan Loomis (PhD 2018), now a staff scientist at NRAO
  • Meredith MacGregor (PhD 2017), now an Assistant Professor at Univ. of Colorado
  • Ana-Maria Piso (PhD 2016), now a project manager in Romania
  • Ian Czekala (PhD 2016), now an Assistant Professor at Penn State University
  • Katherine Rosenfeld (PhD 2016), now a scientist at the Gates Foundation
  • Robert Harris (PhD 2013), now a data scientist at Verizon Media
  • Meredith Hughes (PhD 2010), now a professor at Wesleyan University

* orange = supervised by me


> Current postdoctoral fellows:
  • Diana Powell, Sagan Fellow
  • Feng Long, SMA Fellow
  • Rich Teague, SMA Fellow

> Postdoctoral fellow alumni:
  • Romane Le Gal, now on staff (CNES) at IRAP, Grenoble
  • Joey Rodriguez, now an Assistant Professor at Michigan State
  • Paul Duffell, now an Assistant Professor at Purdue
  • Luca Matrà, now a Lecturer at NUI Galway
  • Ilse Cleeves, now an Assistant Professor at Univ. of Virginia
  • Viviana Guzmán, now an Assistant Professor at PUC (Católica)
  • Luca Ricci, now an Assistant Professor at CSU Northridge
  • Xue-Ning Bai, now on staff of Tsinghua Institute for Advanced Study
  • Til Birnstiel, now Professor at LMU
  • Adam Kraus, now an Associate Professor at Univ. of Texas, Austin
  • Stefan Kraus, now an Associate Professor at Univ. of Exeter
  • Joanna Brown, now a senior scientist at Boston Fusion
  • Catherine Espaillat, now an Associate Professor at Boston University


Current and former undergraduate students include: Chris Wirth, Justin Vega, William Elder, Marie Terrell, Tom Leith, Ian Czekala.

News

2021
  • MAPS results published in an ApJ Supplements Focus Issue; press release
  • Physics Today feature article (cover) on disk structures
  • ApJL article on the PDS 70c circumplanetary disk; press release; NYT article
  • ApJ article on a search for circumplanetary disks in the DSHARP data
  • ApJ article on the V892 Tau triple system and associated disk
  • career updates from the group:
    - Matt Heising defends PhD, starts a MEd program at Tufts
    - Ellen Price defends PhD, starts a 51 Pegasi b Fellowship at U Chicago
    - Jamila Pegues defends PhD, starts a postdoctoral fellowship at STScI
    - Jane Huang awarded the Robert J. Trumpler Award from the ASP
    - Jane Huang awarded the Robert L. Brown Outstanding Dissertation Prize
    - Jane Huang awarded the IAU PhD Prize for Division F
    - Jenny Bergner awarded the AAS LAD Dissertation Prize
    - Romane Le Gal starts a staff position at IPAG / IRAM

2020
  • major review article published in Annual Reviews of Astronomy & Astrophysics
  • ApJ article on large gas spirals in the RU Lup disk; press release
  • ApJ article on new substructures in the GM Aur transition disk
  • recorded presentations:
    - STScI / Johns Hopkins University colloquium (Nov 18)
    - Stanford University / KIPAC colloquium (Oct 20)
    - ngVLA short talk series (Aug 27)
  • career updates from the group:
    - Jane Huang defends PhD, starts a NASA Sagan Fellowship at Michigan
    - Jenny Bergner awarded the Robert L. Brown Outstanding Dissertation Prize
    - Jenny Bergner awarded the IAU PhD Prize for Division H
    - Anjali Tripathi starts new government liaison position at JPL
    - Ian Czekala starts faculty position at Penn State
    - Joey Rodriguez starts faculty position at Michigan State
    - Paul Duffell starts faculty position at Purdue
    - Luca Matrà starts faculty position at NUI Galway
    - Catherine Espaillat awarded tenure at BU

2019
  • ~popular-level interview on Planetary Radio, article in the ESO Messenger
  • DSHARP results featured in AAS Nova; Science; National Geographic; Mercury
  • recorded presentations:
    - Caltech colloquium (Jun 5)
  • career updates from the group:
    - Feng Long, Rich Teague join the group as SMA Fellows
    - Jenny Bergner defends PhD, starts a NASA Sagan Fellowship at U Chicago
    - Meredith MacGregor starts faculty position at U Colorado
    - Ryan Loomis starts staff position at NRAO
    - Meredith Hughes, Adam Kraus awarded tenure at Wesleyan, UT-Austin

2018
  • DSHARP results published as an ApJ Letters Focus Issue; press release
  • Invited Discourse on disk substructures at the IAU GA in Vienna; newsletter
  • ApJ article on the mm continuum size-frequency relation in the UZ Tau E disk
  • ApJ article on the demographics of disk sizes in mm continuum
  • ApJ article on CO and dust at high resolution for the TW Hya disk
  • recorded presentations:
    - CfA colloquium (Sep 6)
    - ESO / LMU / MPE colloquium (May 17)
  • career updates from the group:
    - Anjali Tripathi defends PhD, starts a staff position at Raytheon
    - Ryan Loomis defends PhD, starts a Jansky Fellowship at NRAO
    - Ian Czekala starts a Sagan Fellowship at UC Berkeley
    - Ilse Cleeves starts faculty position at U Virginia
    - Luca Ricci starts faculty position at Cal State Northridge

Data

• I am working on a user-friendly version of the personal catalog used to generate plots in Andrews (2020); contact me if you are interested (for motivational assistance!).

• The DSHARP data (images, visibilities, etc.) and calibration scripts are available through the ALMA Large Program pages. If you find a problem or there is some other secondary product you would like, please contact me.

• The ALMA TW Hya B7 images used by Andrews et al. (2016) are available here. The updated (and expanded) data used by Huang et al. (2018) are available here.

• The electronic tables and full SED catalog compiled in Andrews et al. (2013) are available here (and also in the online version of the ApJ article).

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