I work with Jacob Bean on observational exoplanet and stellar astronomy. In broad terms, my main research interest is the connection between stars and the planets they form. With thousands of exoplanets discovered already, we can now start to look for overarching trends that could point to how these planets are formed. By looking at the star around which a planet formed, we can learn a great deal about the composition and characteristics of the environment where the planet was born. Looking for links between stellar characteristics and the presence of different classes of planets is therefore a promising way to understand how planets come to exist.

HARPS at the ESO 3.6m telescope

The Solar Twin Planet Search

I work on radial velocity planet finding as a part of a large program on the HARPS instrument. Our program, headed by Jorge Meléndez, targets bright nearby solar twin stars. Solar twins are a unique population of stars whose physical properties (temperature, surface gravity, and metallicity) are nearly identical to those of the Sun. This enables us to investigate their chemical compositions at precisions of 1-2%. We aim to characterize both the planetary systems and the photospheric compositions of a sample of ~60 solar twins, and use the results to constrain the connection between stellar composition and planets formed.
The Keck telescopes at Mauna Kea

Stellar Spectroscopy

In addition to the large-scale solar twin investigation, I work on spectroscopic characterization of other exoplanet host stars. Current projects include chemical abundance analyses for several important multi-planet Kepler host stars.