About Me

I am presently an Astronomy PhD candidate at The Ohio State University (OSU). I work with Professor Scott Gaudi on the detection and characterization of transiting exoplanets. My research goals include constraining the composition of small, terrestrial exoplanets by combining precise radii, masses, and host star chemical abundances.

Using data from the Kilodegree Extremely Little Telescope (KELT) survey and the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), I led the discovery of two ultra short-period hot Jupiters, KELT-25b and KELT-26b. Previously, I worked with Professor Laura Lopez studying the variability and flare rates of M-dwarf stars using data from the All-Sky Automated Survey for SuperNovae (ASAS-SN). During that time, in collaboration with the ASAS-SN team, I also led the discovery of a powerful flare on a previously undiscovered M dwarf.

I obtained a bachelors and master's degree in Physics at the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras. For my master's thesis, I worked under the supervision of Professor Sarah Ballard on the characterization of M-dwarf exoplanet hosts using near-infrared spectroscopy. I enjoy science outreach and mentoring and have mentored OSU undergraduates and high school students. In my spare time, I enjoy playing piano, painting, and learning languages.

For more details about my interests and contributions, read my CV .

Research

I broadly study exoplanets, which are planets orbiting stars other than the Sun, to try to understand their individual properties, structure, and composition. Currently at OSU, I work with Professor Scott Gaudi on precisely characterizing small, terrestrial exoplanets (Earth-sized or Super Earths) in order to understand their structure, composition, and formation. I have also worked on a variety of projects (see below for a brief overview of each).

See my publications through ADS here.

Hot Jupiters Around Hot Stars
Last year, I worked on the characterization of two ‘hot Jupiters’ (Jupiter-sized planets in short-period orbits), discovered by the KELT collaboration and observed by TESS. KELT-25b and KELT-26b are both very close to their A-type parent stars, resulting in extremely high equilibrium temperatures and inflated atmospheres. These objects represent good opportunities for follow-up atmospheric characterization. For more details about this work, please read the publication here.

M-dwarf Flares
M dwarf stars are the coolest (temperature-wise) and the most common type of star, comprising about 75% of all stars in the Milky Way. These stars are very magnetically active compared to hotter stars, and they exhibit star spots, coronal mass ejections, and stellar flares that are detectable across all wavelengths. Flares are powerful bursts of energy that result from magnetic lines reconnecting in the surface of stars. These events not only complicate the search for exoplanets around M dwarfs, but also have important implications for the emergence and evolution of life on such planets. Studies have shown that persistent and energetic flares can have adverse effects on the atmospheres of planets around M dwarfs. Under the guidance of Professor Laura Lopez, we studied ~90% of the known M dwarfs in the northern hemisphere with the ASAS-SN survey, finding that the later-type M dwarfs are generally more active than the earlier (hotter) stars. Read more about our work here.

M-dwarf Planet Hosts from K2
As a student at the University of Puerto Rico, under the mentorship of Professor Sarah Ballard, I characterized a sample of M dwarfs with confirmed exoplanets from the K2/Kepler mission. We determined the physical properties of these stars by employing empirical relationships between the equivalent width of certain spectral features in the near-infrared and their radii, temperatures and luminosities. From the derived properties of the stars, we determined the radii and equilibrium temperatures of the planets transiting them. For more details, read the publication here.

Community

I enjoy teaching and sharing my enthusiasm for space with the public. At OSU, I have been a mentor for the Polaris program, which creates a more equitable, diverse, and accessible experience to undergraduates in Physics and Astronomy by providing individualized mentoring and useful resources for their career. Currently, I am mentoring a high school student as part of the SciAccess Zenith Mentorship Program, in collaboration with the Ohio State School for the Blind.

At OSU, I have participated in the Astronomy Department’s outreach activities, such as the Friends of Ohio State Astronomy and Astrophysics (FOSAA) annual event, and regularly participate in the Diversity Journal Club discussions.

Recently, I was a panelist for the OSU Monthly Movie Night event, where I discussed the science behind The Martian. I was also recently invited to serve as a panelist for a “Women in Space” webinar to answer space and career related questions to middle- and high school students.