Greetings! I am a PhD student at the University of North Carolina in the Department of Physics & Astronomy. My advisor is Dr. Nicholas Law, and I work in his group searching for exoplanets — worlds in solar systems beyond our own. I work with data from the Evryscope, a gigapixel-scale telescope array that monitors the entire southern sky simultaneously, all night, in search of transient phenomena like exoplanets and rare superflares. It’s every bit as amazing as it sounds! My research interests include exoplanets and their potential for habitability, the occurrence rate of exoplanets for white dwarf stars, astrobiology, astrostatistics and machine learning. I also have a keen interest in physics/astronomy education and science communication.
Before grad school, I completed my bachelor’s degree at Austin College, a small, private liberal arts college in Sherman, Texas. There, I majored in physics with minors in mathematics and chemistry. Before that, I completed my associate of science degree at Collin College, a community college serving all of Collin County in North Central Texas. I’ve attended different types of institutions for each degree, which has been quite interesting to experience!
In addition to my research, I am passionate about teaching and outreach as well. I have been entranced by the heavens for my entire life, and I love being able to share the wonders of the universe with my students as well as the wider public beyond the walls of academia. I’m also a first-generation college graduate and the first in my family to attend graduate school, so it’s especially important to me that I can mentor the next generation of students — and by doing so, to “pay forward” the mentors who helped me get to where I am today.
No matter who we are, whom we love, what we look like, or where we come from, we are all quite literally made from the same stardust, and I believe our myriad differences overlain upon this fundamental sameness make our species all the more beautiful. As a child, I thought naively that racism, sexism, and other forms of bias were things of the past, that humanity had gotten over its stupid ideas about other people. That thought persisted until college, when an elective course on women in STEM made me realize how pervasive bias still is today — and once I had seen it, I couldn’t unsee it, not only in society as a whole but in my own discipline. Science must reflect and value the diversity of life. I freely acknowledge that I cannot speak to all experiences, but I am a willing ally.
Outside the university, I can often be found with my nose in a book, behind a camera photographing nature, knitting a scarf, or enjoying some coffee. Feel free to contact me if you’d like to chat about research, science, navigating the university and STEM as a student, and the universe in general!