Research

My current research interests are in exoplanet formation and characterization. In particular, I am interested in characterizing circumbinary planets (CBPs) - planets encircling binary stars. Only handfuls of CBPs (detected by eye) are known to date, but their detection suggest planets robustly form and subsist around binaries. Since a majority of main sequence (MS) and pre-MS stars are in binaries or hierarchical multiples, probing CBPs is crucial to understand planet formation in general. There are presently many unknowns and uncertainties surrounding the nature of CBPs, such as the frequency and distribution of planet properties (e.g., density, eccentricity, period, and multiplicity) as a function of stellar parameters (e.g., binary mass ratio, period). The question of habitability, of course, is of utmost interest. Currently, I am working with Dr. Eric Agol to detect transiting CBPs in the Kepler data.

My Masters' work with Dr. William Herbst was on photometric studies of young stellar binaries: BM Ori (an eclipsing binary system with an optically-thick disk around the secondary object) and KH 15D (an eccentric T Tauri binary undergoing regular occultations on the orbital period by a circumbinary ring). As an undergraduate, I spent two fond summers at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank, WV, where I conducted and analyzed HI observations of GOALS luminous infrared galaxies.