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.

Browse to learn more! You can contact me at the email found in this paper (last page). Also see my SAGANet page. Enjoy your visit!



April 2019 Nature Community blog post on new research on the history of Saturn’s moons Mimas, Enceladus, Tethys, Dione and Rhea. These results came out of my postdoctoral work at Arizona State University with Alyssa Rhoden. More in these articles from Space.com, NASA Solar System ExplorationCosmos Magazine, and Live Science.

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June 2018 NASA web feature on the Ladder of Life Detection, a tool to help in the search for life with space missions. This is the output of much of my postdoctoral work at NASA HQ. More in these news articles in Forbes and Proceedings of the Natl. Academy of Sciences.

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Jan. 2018 Follow my adventures in Antarctica!


Dec. 2017 Our work on Ceres and the Pluto system, Discover 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!

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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”).

7 Feb. 2016 Want to learn more about my research? Listen to this ASU Connections podcast.

15 Dec. 2015 Check out the press release on our latest paper: Deep freeze puts the squeeze on dwarf planet Ceres.