My main research interests are planetary exploration and astrobiology, the search for the origins, evolution, and distribution of life in the universe.
Specifically, I seek to understand whether oceans below the surface of icy worlds harbor life by simulating their physics and chemistry, through laboratory and field studies of similar places on Earth where microbial life thrives, and by developing future space missions to explore these ocean worlds.
Dec. 2017 Our work on Ceres and the Pluto system, along with that of several colleagues, was highlighted in this month’s issue of Discover Magazine in an article by Nola Taylor Redd: “Pluto and Ceres: Long Lost Twins?“. It takes many to find out what these dwarf planets can tell us about the history of our solar system. A companion article tells the adventures of the New Horizons‘ mission team to find out the shape of the spacecraft’s next destination, “MU69”. Now that this world is (literally) taking shape, you can vote to give it an actual name.
29 Aug. 2017 Eclipse chasing across the Tennessee – North Carolina border was all worth it!
16 Apr. 2017 Our work on cryovolcanism was highlighted in a Bild der Wissenschaft article by Ute Kehse, “Eisvulkane im Sonnensystem” (“Cryovolcanoes in the Solar System”).
15 Dec. 2015 Check out the press release on our latest paper: Deep freeze puts the squeeze on dwarf planet Ceres.