Introducing Andrew Mann

I’m Andrew Mann (@amannastro) a new assistant professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Before coming to North Carolina, I was a Hubble Postdoctoral Fellow at Columbia University, before which I was the Harlan J. Smith Fellow at University of Texas and Austin after getting my PhD from University of Hawaii at Manoa in 2013. My research focuses on the evolution of planetary systems. Primarily, I search through data from the K2 and TESS transiting planet surveys to find young (10-650 million year old) planets and compare their properties to similar older planets statistically.

I also work on fundamental stellar properties (chemical composition, radius, mass, temperature). Primarily I study low-mass and young stars as a means to better understand the planets orbiting them (we only know a planet as well as we know its host star). I am just getting involved with the design and building of small satellites (CubeSats) to answer fundamental questions about astrophysics.

Outside astronomy, my primary interests are hiking, traveling, eating exotic food, sci-fi books, and board games. I am also slightly obsessed with my cat.


Introducing Keaton Bell

Hi, I’m Keaton Bell (@astrokeat), an observational astronomer interested in all things stellar astrophysics, time domain surveys, pulsating variable stars, white dwarf stars and exoplanets. I earned my PhD at the University of Texas at Austin, where I spent 225 nights observing variable white dwarf systems at McDonald Observatory.  As a postdoc at the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Göttingen, Germany, I am currently focused on developing tools for classifying large numbers of variable stars observed by space missions like Kepler and TESS.  I am excited to begin searching for the first planets transiting white dwarf stars in data from the Zwicky Transient Facility as a NSF Astronomy and Astrophysics Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Washington this fall.

In my free time I enjoy playing guitar in our institute’s band, watching live music, reading, cooking, and traveling around Europe as much as I can while I’m living here.

Introducing Jessie Dotson

I’m Jessie Dotson (@jessiedotson) I work at NASA Ames Research Center on the Kepler/K2 mission and the Asteroid Threat Assessment Project. For Kepler/K2 I spend my time figuring out how NASA can enable the most science out of the data from the Kepler space telescope.  For the Asteroid Threat Assessment Project I study the physical properties of Near Earth Asteroids that effect how an asteroid would interact with the Earth’s atmosphere.

In my non-astronomy time, I love to play with my dog, raise bees, make chocolate, and play the banjo.

Introducing Sarah Schmidt

I’m Sarah Jane Schmidt (@sjs917), and currently I’m the Schwarzschild Postdoctoral Fellow at the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics – Potsdam (AIP). Before that, I was a postoctoral fellow at Ohio State University and before that I got my PhD at the University of Washington (2012). My work is focused on determining the magnetic properties and metallicities of some of the smallest stars and warmest brown dwarfs (spectral types M and L). To do this, I primarily works with survey data of all sorts – photometric, spectroscopic, and/or time-domain. In addition to cool star science, I plan to tweet about equity + inclusion, learning to mentor students, and what it’s like to be from the US and (try to) adapt to German academia.

In my non-astronomy time, I read (sci-fi, fantasy, history, biography, feminist theory), sing in a collective women’s choir, listen to podcasts, play video games, and recently borrowed a bass guitar that is my new favorite thing.

Introducing Henry Throop

Henry Throop is a planetary astronomer based in Washington, DC. His research focuses on the outer solar system, and he has published over 40 articles in scientific journals, on topics ranging from to rings of Saturn and Jupiter, to planet and star formation, to astrobiology and the origins of life, to searching for (and co-discovering) Pluto’s smallest moon, Styx, in 2012. Throop is member of the science team for NASA’s New Horizons mission, and was involved in its historic flyby of Pluto in 2015 and Ultima Thule in 2019. He received a PhD in Planetary Science from the University of Colorado, in 2000. Throop is a program officer at NASA Headquarters in Washington, DC, where he is a program manager for NASA’s planetary research program.

Throop has spent much of his career bringing astronomy to the developing world. While living for eight years in Africa, India, and Mexico, he worked extensively with schools and community groups, helping to develop their science programs and inspire the next generation of leaders. He has presented more than 150 lectures for science festivals, planetariums, school groups, and public events across the world. Throop’s work has been featured in Science, Nature, Time, The Washington Post, and on the History Channel and National Geographic TV, as well as dozens of newspapers from Pakistan to Hungary to Namibia.

Throop’s work has won him broad accolades. In 2017 he was awarded both the US State Department’s Avis Bohlen Award, and the American Astronomical Society’s Carl Sagan Medal, for his work in science communication and outreach to the public. Asteroid “193736 Henrythroop” was named in his honor.

Introducing Sam Frampton

Sam Frampton is a PhD Student at the University of Leicester, and is currently looking at mission concept for small satellites to the outer solar system.

After completing his BSc in Physics at Lancaster University, Sam completed his masters degree in Astronautics and Space Engineering at Cranfield University, where he worked on the proposal for the ‘EnVision’ mission to Venus which is currently being reviewed by ESA. After some time working on telecommunication payloads in Toulouse, Sam started his PhD in September.

Sam will be tweeting about the past and future of mission planning, PhD life, as well as sharing some of his favourite space music!

Introducing Oliver Hall

Oliver Hall (@asteronomer) is a 3rd year PhD student with the Sun, Stars & Exoplanets group at the University of Birmingham in the UK. His work is centered around the use of asteroseismology: the study of sound waves inside stars through variations we see on their surfaces. Asteroseismology is a useful tool that can give us masses and radii of stars, and can be compared to models to discover all kinds of things about stellar interiors.

Oliver is currently studying the synergies between asteroseismology and distances from the Gaia mission for stars observed by the Kepler space telscope, and hopes to soon set his sighs on stars observed by the K2 mission as well. He also participates in collaborations such as TESS Data for Asteroseismology (T’DA), working with an international group of astronomers to prepare high quality lightcurves from brand new data from the TESS space telescope, and has contributed to popular open source code such as lightkurve.

Oliver grew up abroad in Bussum in the Netherlands, before moving back to the UK for his undergraduate degree, also at Birmingham. While waiting for his code to run he can be found on twitter and writing for Astrobites. Outside of research, he loves reading, music, exploring, and pretty much every form of media.