Ken & Gloria Levy Graduate Student Research Fellow
University of California Berkeley Astronomy Deptartment
Campbell Hall 605G, Berkeley, CA 94720.
I am the Ken & Gloria Levy Graduate Student Fellow at UC Berkeley. I work with Geoff Marcy to find and characterize planets around stars other than the sun (exoplanets). In particular, I measure the masses of exoplanets with the radial velocity (or Doppler shift) method with the goal of determining the compositions of small planets. Most recently, I discovered that planets smaller than 1.5 times the size of Earth are likely rocky, whereas planets larger than 1.5 times the size of Earth are enveloped in a thick layer of gas.
For my dissertation, I am studying stars that have multiple planets. I am looking for undiscovered planets in multi-planet systems and measuring their masses and orbital properties. By finding new planets and refining our understanding of planetary system architectures, I hope to bring new insight to the physical processes that form and shape planetary systems, including our own solar system.
One of my major efforts for my thesis has been to automate the Automated Planet Finder (APF) with my colleagues at Berkeley. The APF, situated at Lick Observatory on Mt. Hamilton, CA, is a telescope that studies the nearest and brightest stars every night in order to find small, rocky planets around those stars. Around the coolest stars, we hope to find rocky planets at temperatures amenable to liquid water. These planets will be ideal places to search for signs of life
A recent video spot I did for ABC about discovering 3 super-Earths with a robotic telescope: