Introducing Christa Van Laerhoven

Christa is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of British Columbia
(UBC). She’s from a small town just a couple hours east of Vancouver,
BC. She did her Bachelors in Physics and Astronomy at UBC, then did
her PhD in Planetary Sciences at the University of Arizona. She does
orbital dynamics, or, as she likes to call it “orbital shenanigans.”
She investigates how orbits change over long periods of time and how
that can be used to tease out interesting things about a planetary
system. In particular, she is interested in what the Kuiper Belt can
tell us about the history of our Solar System, and in how planetary
systems go unstable (or avoid going unstable). In her spare time she
works with the Yukon Center of the Royal Astronomical Society of
Canada (rasc.ca). As a result of that collaboration, this week she
will be on a flight to see the Aurora Borealis.

Christa tweets as @K04PB2B. Her twitter handle is the Minor Planet
Center (MPC) packed designation for the Kuiper Belt object 2004 PB112,
which orbits 4 times in the time it takes Neptune to orbit 27 times.

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Introducing Coel Hellier

Coel Hellier is a Professor of Astrophysics at Keele University in the UK, working on extrasolar planets.   After undergraduate study at the University of Oxford and a PhD at University College London he was then a Hubble Fellow at the University of Texas at Austin before moving to Keele.

In 2004 Keele joined the WASP consortium (Wide Angle Search for Planets) to search for transiting exoplanets.  Professor Hellier leads the team which built and now operates the WASP-South camera array, hosted at the South African Astronomical Observatory. Over the last decade WASP has become the most productive of the ground-based transit searches with over 140 discoveries, including many that are prime targets for characterisation with the Hubble Space Telescope and the imminent James Webb Space Telescope.

Coel posts about exoplanets at https://wasp-planets.net/ and tweets as @WASPplanets.

Introducing Bella Boulderstone

Bella Boulderstone is a PhD student currently working in the University of Southampton. She works on Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN) and their dusty tori. She graduated from Lancaster University in 2014 with an MPhys in physics with particle physics and cosmology. She decided after that she liked doing degrees so much she’d get another master’s so studied at Queen Mary University of London and got an MSc in astrophysics a year later. Bella’s first master’s project was working on Dark Matter Halos of galaxies and their density profiles and her second was working on the orbital evolution of Triton (Neptune’s largest moon), she also has a soft spot for magnetospheric physics in the Solar System.

Bella is a dual UK/US national and therefore enjoys both American Football and Cricket. She enjoys listening to podcasts and considers herself a feminist. She tries to do a lot of outreach because it reminds her why she likes doing what she does.

Introducing Larry Nittler

 

Larry Nittler is a staff scientist in the Dept. of Terrestrial Magnetism of the Carnegie Institution of Washington. He is a cosmochemist and planetary scientist whose research interests span stellar evolution, nucleosynthesis, interstellar and interplanetary dust, meteorites, and the formation and evolution of planets. He earned a BA in Physics from Cornell University in 1991 and a PhD in Physics from Washington University in St. Louis in 1996. He has been on the Carnegie staff since 2001, following a postdoc at the Carnegie and two years as a staff scientist at NASA’s Goddard Spaceflight Center. His laboratory research focuses on isotopic and mineralogical properties of microscopic extraterrestrial materials including presolar grains in meteorites, interplanetary dust particles and spacecraft-returned samples, including solar wind and comet Wild 2 samples returned by the Genesis and Stardust missions, respectively. He also performs spacecraft-based remote-sensing geochemical research on planetary bodies. He led the analysis of X-ray fluorescence data for the Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous mission, which orbited asteroid Eros in 2000-2001, and for the MESSENGER mission, which orbited Mercury from 2011-2015. He also served as Deputy Principle Investigator for MESSENGER. He is on the Science Team for the ESA-JAXA BepiColombo Mercury mission, to be launched in 2018, and is a Participating Scientist on JAXA’s Hayabusa2 asteroid sample return mission. He received the Nier prize of the Meteoritical Society in 2001 and became a Fellow of the same society in 2010. Asteroid 5992 Nittler is named in his honor. In addition to his scientific research, Larry is a jazz pianist and composer who performs frequently with his soul-jazz group Dr. Nittler’s Elastic Soultastic Planet. He lives in Washington DC with his wife, physicist Rhonda Stroud, and their daughter and two cats.

Introducing Matt Taylor

Matt Taylor is a Canadian postdoctoral researcher working as a Gemini Science Fellow at Gemini Observatory’s Northern Operations Center in Hilo, Hawaii. He completed his degree at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile in July 2016, and has been working at Gemini since June 2017. His research revolves around using low-mass stellar systems like globular clusters, ultra-compact dwarfs, and dwarf galaxies to constrain the formation histories of their giant host galaxies in the nearby universe. His favourite colours are optical and near-infrared. He tweets @taylored4astro.

Introducing Matt Russo

Matt Russo is an astrophysicist and musician who specializes in protoplanetary disks and astronomical data sonification. After completing degrees in Jazz guitar and astrophysics from the University of Toronto he became a postdoctoral fellow at the Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics. Since May of 2017 he has been combining his two passions with SYSTEM Sounds, an outreach project which converts the rhythms and harmony of astronomy into music, sound, and animations. He is currently developing tactile-audio exhibits and planetarium shows to help make astronomy more accessible to the visually impaired. You can see and hear his space music at system-sounds.com and learn more about him at astromattrusso.com. He tweets @astromattrusso. Matt Russo is an astrophysicist and musician who specializes in protoplanetary disks and astronomical data sonification. After completing degrees in Jazz guitar and astrophysics from the University of Toronto he became a postdoctoral fellow at the Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics. Since May of 2017 he has been combining his two passions with SYSTEM Sounds, an outreach project which converts the rhythms and harmony of astronomy into music, sound, and animations. He is currently developing tactile-audio exhibits and planetarium shows to help make astronomy more accessible to the visually impaired. You can see and hear his space music at system-sounds.com and learn more about him at astromattrusso.com. He tweets @astromattrusso.

Introducing Helen Maynard-Casely

Helen Maynard-Casely is a Planetary Scientist based at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) where she uses the neutrons and synchrotron x-rays to investigate the materials that make up our solar system. She has a PhD in high-pressure physics from the University of Edinburgh and has been lucky enough to have collected data in facilities all over the world, blowing up a few diamonds along the way. Currently she’s trying to characterise all the ‘minerals’ that would form on Europa and Titan. Always keen to tell anyone who’ll listen about planetary science, she tweets @Helen_E_MC.