Location: ERC 548
Scientific Advisors: John E. Carlstrom, Daniel Fabrycky
Ph.D. Thesis Defense
Defense date: September 15, 2021
Ph.D. Thesis: "Toward an Accurate Census of Exoplanets and Exoplanetary Systems"
Building a complete and accurate census of exoplanets and exoplanetary systems is a keystone endeavor for understanding the planet formation process and for constraining the prevalence of habitable worlds in our Galaxy. However, in most cases, our knowledge is data-limited: observed demographic trends are equally well explained by several distinct population synthesis models, and planet formation simulations surpass our ability to observationally constrain theoretical predictions. Because data collection is expensive, forward progress often hinges on the development of new analysis techniques in order to wring the maximum information content from large archival datasets. By borrowing state-of-the-art methods from widely disparate fields such as complexity theory and biochemistry, I demonstrate that even the nearly decade-old Kepler dataset still holds many secrets waiting to be revealed. I present a new framework for classifying exoplanetary systems architectures, followed by a new method for analyzing photometric transit lightcurves which resolves a long-standing problem in exoplanet science and produces robust, unbiased estimates of planet parameters.