This week features Jayne Birkby, a NASA Carl Sagan postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Astrophysics (CfA) at Harvard University. Jayne’s research focuses on determining the chemical make up of exoplanet atmospheres in order to understand how and where such planets are born and evolve. Ultimately, she aims to use her observing techniques in the future on extremely large telescopes to identify signs of life (biomarkers) on Earth-like planets elsewhere in the Milky Way.
Jayne grew up in England and studied at Durham University for her Masters in Physics and Astronomy. She then moved to the University of Cambridge where she undertook her PhD studying the smallest stars in our galaxy, the M-dwarfs, and looking for their companion exoplanets. Afterwards, Jayne headed over to Leiden Observatory in the Netherlands for her first postdoc to study exoplanet atmospheres. After three years surrounded by canals, bicycles, and stroopwafels, Jayne departed Leiden in June this year and followed in the path of the pilgrims over to Boston to begin as a fellow at the CfA. One of the favourite parts of Jayne’s work is when she goes to telescopes to collect data and gets to watch the sun set and rise over some breathtakingly beautiful and remote locations. She hopes one day we will do this on other planets too. You can find Jayne over at @jaynebirkby during the rest of the year.