Introducing Niall Deacon

Niall Deacon is a coordinator at the IAU Office of Astronomy for Education in Heidelberg. Niall did his PhD in Edinburgh and has since held postdoc positions in the Netherlands, USA, Germany and the UK. His research focuses on low mass stars, brown dwarfs and free-floating exoplanets.

In his current job Niall and his colleagues are working to support astronomy educators at primary and secondary level around the world. This includes building a global network of National Education Coordinators (NAECs). If you work in astronomy education and would be interested in becoming a NAEC then follow this link.

Niall is also active in outreach. His popular-level book about exoplanets, Twenty Worlds was recently published by Reaktion Books. He was previously an organizer of Astronomy on Tap Heidelberg, is a former moderator on @astrotweeps and was (way back in the mists of time) the first astrotweep. For the remaining 51 weeks of the year, you can follow Niall at @nialldeacon on Twitter.

Introducing Jonathan Fortney

Jonathan Fortney is a Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He focuses on understanding the atmospheres, interiors, and composition of planets in our solar system and “exoplanets” around other stars. He was on the science team for NASA’s Kepler and Cassini Missions, and is currently on the Juno science team. He is the director of the Other Worlds Laboratory (OWL) at UC Santa Cruz, which hosts an exoplanet summer program each year. Jonathan’s research focuses on theory and modeling efforts, from giant planets down to terrestrial-mass worlds. He is on the Steering Committee for the Astro2020 Decadal Survey in Astronomy and Astrophysics. Before coming to UC Santa Cruz, Jonathan did a postdoc at NASA Ames, PhD at University of Arizona, and BS at Iowa State University.

Introducing Brian Jackson

I am an assistant professor teaching astronomy in the Physics Department at Boise State University.

Before coming to Boise State, I was a postdoctoral fellow at the Carnegie Institution of Washington’s Dept. of Terrestrial Magnetism in Washington DC and before that, at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt MD.

I earned my PhD in Planetary Science from the University of Arizona‘s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory in Tucson AZ and my BS in Physics from Georgia Tech in Atlanta GA.

My research focuses primarily on orbital dynamics and transit observations of extrasolar planets, planets outside of our solar system. I also do some planetary science field work, notably on Death Valley’s Racetrack Playa and on terrestrial and Martian dust devils.

When I’m not chasing my  daughter around the house, I enjoy running around Boise and learning classical guitar.

Re-introducing Sarah McIntyre

I’m Sarah McIntyre (@ExoBioExplorer) a PhD student at the Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the Australian National University.

My current research aims to examine the effect that a diverse range of astronomical and planetary parameters have on an exoplanet’s ability to sustain liquid water. I spend most of my time working on exoplanet models and simulations and doing lab experiments. Long term research plans include helping determine optimal targets for near-future ground- and space-based observations of planetary atmospheres and the potential detection of life in space.

When not exploring exoplanets I read (lately mainly about AI/machine learning), compose, play piano (or violin) and travel.

Introducing Joshua Lothringer

I’m Joshua Lothringer (@JDLothringer). I’m a PhD candidate in my final semester at the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory at the University of Arizona. I did my undergrad in astronomy from the University of Colorado at Boulder where I worked at the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics operating several NASA spacecraft, including the Kepler space telescope and the Student Dust Counter on New Horizons. I also worked on the science team of the MAVEN mission to Mars. In the fall, I’ll be moving to Baltimore to postdoc at Johns Hopkins University and work with folks at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI).

My research has focused on studying exoplanet atmospheres. I’ve been lucky enough to observe and model exoplanet atmospheres. I’ve used observations from HST/STIS to study Neptune and sub-Neptune sized exoplanets, as well as done some ground-based observing work at MMT. I’ve also used the PHOENIX stellar atmosphere model to simulate the atmospheres of the hottest Jovian exoplanets.

Outside of my research time, I like to read (mostly sci-fi), play video games, watch sitcoms, play guitar, and walk by partner’s doge.

Introducing Sarah McIntyre

I’m Sarah McIntyre (@ExoBioExplorer) a PhD student at the Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the Australian National University.

My current research aims to examine the effect that a diverse range of astronomical and planetary parameters have on an exoplanet’s ability to sustain liquid water. I spend most of my time working on exoplanet models and simulations and doing lab experiments. Long term research plans include helping determine optimal targets for near-future ground- and space-based observations of planetary atmospheres and the potential detection of life in space.

When not exploring exoplanets I read (lately mainly about AI/machine learning), compose, play piano (or violin) and travel.

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 Brian Jackson

Brian Jackson (@decaelusastrojack.com) is an assistant professor teaching astronomy in the Physics Department at Boise State University. Before coming to Boise State, he was a postdoctoral fellow at the Carnegie Institution of Washington’s Dept. of Terrestrial Magnetism in Washington DC and before that, at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt MD. He earned a PhD in Planetary Sciences from the University of Arizona‘s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory in Tucson AZ and my BS in Physics from Georgia Tech in Atlanta GA. His research focuses primarily on orbital dynamics and transit observations of extrasolar planets, planets outside of our solar system. He also does some planetary science field work, notably on Death Valley’s Racetrack Playa (www.racetrackplaya.org) and on terrestrial and Martian dust devils.

Introducing Laura Mayorga

Dr. Laura Mayorga (@mayorgalc) is a Harvard Future Faculty Leaders Fellow based at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. She is interested in exploring the diversity in exoplanet atmospheres by using Solar System objects as analogs for their exoplanet counterparts. From flyby data of Jupiter taken by the Cassini Spacecraft she is laying the groundwork comparison dataset needed to understand the underlying, unresolved phenomena in the atmospheres and on the surfaces of planets around other stars.
A lover of accents and languages if she can’t be Cdr. Spock she would be Lt. Uhura. When not engaged in science research and communication, she enjoys cycling to the closest beach, crocheting the next unfinished project, or playing video games at home where her first duty is to be a warm lap to a caliby named Stellar. She finds the rules for what makes something a cookie vs. a biscuit fascinating and she plays the ocarina while traveling, where the cat won’t try to stop her.

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.