Ward Howard is a PhD candidate in physics and astronomy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He researches the impact of stellar activity on the detection and habitability of exoplanets around nearby stars by measuring their flare rates using data from the Evryscopes, an ultra-wide survey of the entire visible sky every two minutes. Evryscope-South has produced millions of high-cadence, multi-year light-curves, making feasible long-term monitoring of starspots, star-planet interactions, and large flares, including a superflare from our nearest stellar neighbor, Proxima Centauri, which bathed its terrestrial planet Proxima b with lethal doses of UV radiation. Evryscope-North is now also active, which Ward helped to deploy earlier this year in collaboration with SDSU.
Ward is also excited by the synergies between visible-light Evryscopes and radio telescopes in understanding stellar activity and space weather. This combination allows us to look for exoplanet magnetic fields and investigate mysterious sub-mm flares observed on red dwarfs and what they might mean for habitable exoplanets.
Ward grew up in High Point, NC and was initially inspired to study astronomy by the friendly and enthusiastic staff of the Jamestown, NC Cline Observatory. In 2015, Ward received a BS in physics and mathematics from Union University in Jackson, TN. He enjoys good books (esp. science fiction and fantasy), coffee, physics outreach, and running/hiking.