I am currently a Research Scientist at the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, TX. My current research projects include observing asteroids with space telescopes (we just got all our JWST observations of the asteroid Psyche in March 2023!), investigating planetary rings (most recently Saturn’s), grainflow modeling (leading a SSW to study Mars grainflow starting this summer), and observation planning for the UV instrument on the Europa Clipper mission. I’m also excited to get more involved with planning for the upcoming Uranus flagship mission bringing insights from the mission concept I led through the JPL Planetary Science Summer Seminar. I am also very involved in the Planetary Science community at large through my role as the NASA Small Bodies Assessment Group Early Career Secretary and contributions to various panels, committees, conference organization roles, and social media groups.
My road to planetary science & astronomy research,
I first began astronomy research during my freshman year at MIT where I happily received an opportunity to carry out an observational astronomy project studying exoplanet transits. I continued to carry out astronomy research including near earth asteroid characterization at Lowell Observatory and a thesis on point spread function fitting methods. While at MIT I also worked as a computing help desk consultant and a teaching assistant for mathematics and astronomy courses while part of the Experimental Study Group community. I then pursued a Master’s in Physics with a focus on detectability of exoplanet secondary eclipses via ground-based telescopes, and I obtained data for my thesis via remote observations taken at both Kitt Peak and Cerro Tololo observatories.
During my PhD at the University of Central Florida I carried out experimental and numerical programs investigating the early stages of planet formation and impacts into regolith on the surfaces of small bodies at the Center for Microgravity Research. I led the experiment plan design, data compression and processing, attitude control system design and related communications and power generation analysis for a NASA funded 3U CubeSat mission studying planet formation, as well as the attitude control and power generation analysis for a 2U CubeSat mission on spacecraft surface charging. I have also designed the experiment plan for and worked closely with a group of engineers on the design of a NASA funded parabolic flight experiment on planetesimal accretion carried out in November of 2017 along with suborbital experiments aboard Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo and Blue Origin’s New Shepard. I conducted experimental and numerical studies of planet formation and impacts into small bodies through various microgravity platforms (drop tower, parabolic flights, suborbital flights, anticipated on-orbit) and discrete element method programs, the analysis of which directly contributed to my dissertation and a published manuscript. During my PhD I also led a team of early career scientists and engineers to carry out a New Frontiers Uranus Orbiter mission concept study through JPL’s Planetary Science Summer Seminar, the results of which led to a published manuscript.
I am now a Research Scientist at the Southwest Research Institute where I study planetary rings, lead the analysis of recent JWST observations of the asteroid Psyche, contribute to the science team of the Europa Clipper UVS instrument, and lead a NASA Solar Systems Working project studying dry grainflow processes on Mars.
I’m currently living in San Antonio with my amazing husband Ben, our two sons Noah (almost 3) and Henry (5 months), and our two cats Waffle and Peepa.
In my free time I enjoy cooking/baking, powerlifting, drawing, playing piano, videogames/magic the gathering/D&D/all those nerd things, and astrophotography. I have also recently illustrated a children’s book that my son Noah’s daycare director wrote!