I work on a variety of projects related to low-mass stars and extrasolar planets. M dwarfs are small stars; they are less than half the mass of the sun and less than half the diameter. They are the most common stars in the Universe, but you can't see any with the naked eye because they are faint. Despite being so common, they are poorly understood in many ways: we have trouble determining their true sizes (and the sizes of exoplanets found to orbit them) and we don't really know if they can host habitable, Earth-like planets.
I am researching novel methods to accurately determine the masses, sizes, luminosities and ages of these interesting stars. I serve as the lead of the TESS Cool Dwarf Team determining the low-mass stars deserved of intense study the NASA’s upcoming Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite.
I also like to build instruments for telescopes that measure light from stars in new, unique ways. My involvement in astronomical instruments has led me into new areas of research, including white dwarfs, nova, supernova and outbursting pre-main sequence stars. See my Papers and Abstracts section for details.
Below I list some specific scientific results and projects of mine with links to papers:
Small Stars with Small Planets (or White Dwarfs):
KOI-256 - Using gravitational lensing in an eclipsing post-common envelope binary to measure accurate M dwarf/white dwarf masses, radii and temperatures. Here is a NASA press release about this study with a great video by NASA-IPAC's Dr. Robert Hurt:
KOI-961 (now Kepler 42) - A small star with 3 sub-Earth-sized planets! Here is a news article in Nature about this study.
Characterizing the Cool KOIs - Identifying compelling Kepler planet-candidates that orbit cool stars (aka Cool KOIs). Here's a talk I gave about this work at the First Kepler Science Conference, and a news article in Science Magazine.
LAEDI - A technique to measure ultra-precise stellar radial velocities.
Project Minerva - High-cadence radial velocity monitoring of nearby stars.
TEDI - Precision radial velocities in the near-infrared.