Introducing Emily Sandford

Emily Sandford (@EmSandford) is a PhD student in the Cool Worlds lab at Columbia University. She uses planets to study stars, and she teaches computers how to recognize patterns in planetary transits. She has also worked on detecting dark matter using dissolving star clusters in the Milky Way. She writes for @Astrobites.

Introducing Ben Montnet

Ben Montet (@benmontet) is a NASA Sagan Fellow at the University of Chicago. He works to find and characterize planets with Kepler and K2, and soon, the upcoming TESS mission. He also uses Kepler data to better understand stellar activity through observations of long-term brightness variations of stars. (Ask him about KIC 8462852, or “Boyajian’s Star.”)
Ben is originally from the Chicagoland area, receiving his BS from the University of Illinois before heading to sunny California for his PhD at Caltech. When he’s not in the office, he enjoys traveling, watching the Cubs, and exploring his old and new hometown of Chicago.

Introducing Federica Bianco

Federica Bianco is a senior research scientist at NYU Center for Urban Science and Progress (CSUP), and Center for Cosmology and Particle Physics, and assistant research faculty of informatics.

She studies lightcurves, time series of light, in astronomy, with applications in stellar evolution, cosmology, and solar system science, and in cities, at the CUSP urban observatory, where the study of NYC lightcurves enables sociological, ecological, economical inference.

She is the co-chair of the LSST Transients and Variable Stars Collaboration: a group of over 200 scientists who are preparing to optimally exploit the revolutionary LSST survey for the study of the transient sky. Also, she is a professional boxer!

Introducing Benoît Noyelles

Benoît @BenoitNoyelles  works at the Naxys institute, University of Namur, Belgium. He is currently funded to model the rotation of the Galilean satellites of Jupiter, in preparation of JUICE. He graduated from Paris Observatory in 2005, where he mostly studied celestial mechanics. He was particularly specialized on the orbital dynamics of the natural satellites. He moved to Belgium in 2006 to work on the rotation of the resonant bodies, i.e. natural satellites and Mercury. The influence of the interior on the rotational dynamics of a planetary body pushed him to be acquainted with planetary geophysics. He made several research visits, at Jinan University (China), University Tor Vergata (Italy), UCSC (USA), and UNESP (Brazil). He is particularly involved in the Division on Dynamical Astronomy (AAS).

He is interested in any aspect of planetology, even if he prefers the Solar System. His website is

Introducing Tyler Nordgren

Tyler Nordgren is a Professor of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Redlands. For over a decade he has worked with the National Park Service to turn the national parks into the single largest source for public science and astronomy education in the world. His popular science book “Stars Above, Earth Below: A guide to astronomy in the national parks,” reveals what visitors to America’s national parks can observe in their dark night skies. For the upcoming 2017 eclipse he is helping the NPS prepare a campaign of “Go for the Sun, Stay for the Stars.” His newest book, “SUN MOON EARTH: The History of Solar Eclipses from Omens of Doom to Einstein and Exoplanets,” released in 2016 to excellent reviews, describes the vast array of social and scientific influences eclipses have had throughout history. Many of the color illustrations in this and his previous books include vintage-style “travel posters” he designed to help the public learn about and see the astronomical wonders in the sky – ranging from solar eclipses to the Milky Way and geologic features similar to those found on other worlds. In 2012, NASA’s Curiosity rover joined Spirit and Opportunity on Mars, each carrying sundials, or “Marsdials” which he helped design through his science and art. Dr. Nordgren gives public talks and multimedia programs across the country about what every American can expect to experience for this year’s All-American total solar eclipse. This will be his fourth total solar eclipse, his first, in 1979 at the age of nine, was the last total solar eclipse to be visible from the continental United States.

Introducing Jessie Christiansen

Dr. Jessie Christiansen is a staff scientist at the NASA Exoplanet Science Institute at Caltech. She searches for, studies, and catalogues extrasolar planets – planets orbiting other stars. Her main research focuses on using the thousands of exoplanets found by the NASA Kepler mission to determine how common planets similar to the Earth might be throughout the Galaxy, and preparing to do the same with TESS.