Exoplanets / Planetary Astrophysics

Fall 2021

The aim of this course is to prepare graduate students to conduct original research in the topic of exoplanets. The class will be inquiry-based, with an emphasis on students developing original questions related to exoplanet science that are answerable in a timely fashion. To acquire background knowledge and hone their questions, students will read, present, and discuss papers and book chapters about landmark discoveries and novel techniques. Primary texts will include the National Academy of Science “Exoplanet Science Strategy Report” (ed. Charbonneau & Gaudi, 2018),
Exoplanets (ed. Seager 2010), Planetary Sciences (de Pater & Lissauer, 2nd edition), and various review chapters and articles accessible through the SAO/NASA Astrophysics Data System. Assessment will be based on in-class presentations and discussions and a written research proposal, the latter of which will be peer-reviewed in the panel format typical of professional reviews. [link]

Primary Reading:
National Academy of Science Exoplanet Science Strategy Report
Exoplanets -- Sara Seager
Planetary Sciences -- de Pater & Lissauer
Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles accessible via NASA/AdS Library (plus institutional login)

Engineering Physics I

Spring 2022


The overriding goal of this course is to help students develop an intuitive understanding of the basic physical concepts and physical laws that govern the mechanical world. Since an intuitive understanding does not necessarily imply applicability, students will also develop skills to apply these somewhat abstract ideas to practical, problem-solving situations. By the end of the semester, students should be able to open the textbook to essentially any homework problem, be able to identify the underlying physical concepts involved, and outline a solution. And, of course, we will try to have some fun along the way. [link]

Keck Planet Hunter Training

Keck Planet Hunter Training, 2019

Teo Mocnik and I led an observer training bootcamp for graduate students. Students learned how to use the Keck telescope with the HIRES instrument to characterize and discover planets around other stars. Left to Right: M. Hill, M. Rice, J. Van Zandt, S. Giacalone, T. Mocnik, L. Weiss. Keck Visiting Scientist Quarters, Waimea (Kamuela), HI, November 2019.

Maunakea at Sunrise

Three telescopes (left to right: Keck II, Keck I, and Subaru) sit below the Maunakea summit. At the time of this photograph, our bootcamp students were using Keck I to search for planets around nearby bright stars. November 2019.