My research focuses on exploring the possible climates and potential habitability of planets orbiting low-mass stars. For more about my research, visit my faculty website.
My PhD research focused on the effects on climate and habitability of interactions between a star and an orbiting planet. In graduate school I became fascinated by the Snowball Earth episodes of ~600 and ~800 million years ago, where our planet may have been covered in ice from Pole to Pole. If someone had been able to observe our planet from space during these episodes, it may have looked something like this:
As an astronomer, I wondered if something like Snowball Earth could happen on planets orbiting stars other than our Sun, which we call Extrasolar Planets. For my dissertation I explored the effect of the spectrum of a host star on the climate of a planet. I found that the interaction between the host star’s spectrum and an orbiting planet’s atmosphere and surface will affect the manner in which the planet achieves global energy balance through a combination of reflected, absorbed, and/or emitted shortwave (incoming from the star)) and longwave (outgoing from the planet) radiation.