Introducing David Wilson

David Wilson (@astrodave2) is a postdoc at the University of Texas at Austin, having recently moved there after completing his PhD at the University of Warwick. His research focuses on observing M dwarf and white dwarf stars using Hubble and other space telescopes. He uses those observations to explore the effects of stellar activity on extrasolar planets and to study the remnants of planetary systems around dead stars. In particular, David is a member of the Mega-Muscles collaboration, which is using a large number of telescopes to produce an archive of pan-chromatic M dwarf spectra.

Along with his research, David is also interested in science communication and outreach. During his PhD he was a writer for the Astrobites collaboration and regularly visited local schools to give talks and present planetarium shows. When not working, David can usually be found reading sci-fi books or adding to his space-themed Lego collection.


Introducing Jessie Christiansen

Dr. Jessie Christiansen (@aussiastronomer) is a research 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 and K2 missions to determine how common planets similar to the Earth might be throughout the Galaxy, and she is getting ready to do the same with the NASA TESS mission.

She is an avid science communicator, and is particularly engaged with reaching and elevating under-represented minorities in the sciences. When she is more engaged with this particular planet, she is chasing her twin 3-year-olds around, enjoying various sci-fi/fantasy fandoms, and is married to fellow astronomer @PFHopkins_Astro.

Introducing Adina Feinstein

Hi! My name is Adina Feinstein, and I just finished my undergraduate degree in astrophysics at Tufts University and will continue my education next year at U of Chicago. My research experiences range from galaxy evolution to correcting for gravitational lensing to aging stars and characterizing exoplanets. I hope to use my time on Astrotweeps to talk about my research, the graduate school application process, and offer advice to those who wish to pursue astronomy in the future. Outside of academia, I’m a bake-aholic, love to crochet, and enjoy writing the occasional short story!


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.

Reintroducing Jonathan Fortney

Jonathan Fortney is a Professor in the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, University of California, Santa Cruz, and the director of their Other Worlds Laboratory ( He received his PhD in Planetary Sciences in 2004 from the University of Arizona and was a postdoc for 4 years at NASA Ames Research Center before starting at UC Santa Cruz in 2008.

Jonathan’s major fields of interest are the atmospheres, interiors, spectra, composition, and evolution of planets, both inside and outside the solar system.  He focuses on modeling and theory of these objects, with targets that range from terrestrial planets to brown dwarfs.  He was a member of the Kepler Science Team during its prime mission and is currently a member of the Cassini Science Team.

Introducing Maria Womack

Maria Womack (@StarzanPlanets) is Research Professor of physics at the University of South Florida in Tampa.  Her research involves multi-wavelength spectroscopy of comets and exoplanets. She is mainly interested in the chemical abundances and physical parameters that can be measured from volatiles with spectroscopic techniques. Lately, her cometary interests have focused on the activity of distant comets: those that are too far from the Sun for water ice to sublimate, but nonetheless have comae. Her work on exoplanetary science was mostly devoted to extracting signal from relatively faint ground-based spectra of hot Jupiters and super-Earths, which gave her a deep appreciation to the problems of Earth-atmosphere contamination.

Maria earned a B.S. in physics from Florida State University and a Ph.D. in physics from Arizona State University. She held a postdoctoral position in astronomy/planetary science at Northern Arizona University (Flagstaff) and her first faculty position was at Penn State Behrend (Erie). After three years, she left Erie to start a new faculty position at St. Cloud State University in Minnesota, where she worked for 18 years. She carried out research with over 60 undergraduate students and managed student-run observatories at both universities. From 2011-2015 she worked as a ‘rotating’ astronomy program director to the National Science Foundation. She used her cometary and exoplanetary expertise at NSF to manage the stellar and planetary astronomy individual investigator grant programs; and to help create and establish the joint NASA-NSF EXPLORE program for exoplanetary science. She started her USF faculty position in 2015 and occasionally helps out NSF as a part-time “expert.”

Introducing Matthew Kenworthy

Matthew Kenworthy is an Associate Professor at Leiden Observatory in the Netherlands.

His interests are in the direct imaging of exoplanets, along with the coronagraphic optics and image reconstruction techniques that can increase our sensitivity to seeing these faint companions. More recently, he’s become interested in circumstellar and circumplanetary material detected when it eclipses its parent star, most notably the complex two month long eclipse seen towards the young star J1407.
He grew up in Ewell, a small town just outside of Greater London, and became interested in astronomy despite the bright orange skies at night. He did his undergraduate degree at Oxford University, and then went to the Institute of Astronomy at Cambridge for his PhD on astronomical instrumentation, building fibre-fed integral field spectrographs. Spending a decade in the USA, mostly at Steward Observatory with the Center for Adaptive Optics group and a short stint in Cincinnati, he moved to Leiden just over six years ago. He cycles around the Netherlands with his family, makes bread and beer, and occasionally tries to run in the more scenic parts of town. He’s on twitter as @mattkenworthy.