Graduate Student, Astronomy
Astrobiology Areas of Interest: Exoplanets: Detection, Habitability, & Biosignatures
Andrew is a graduate student working with Professor Meadows on the habitability of exoplanets through the study of atmospheres using climate and photochemistry models. He is working to couple together VPL's new 1D radiative-convective-equilibrium climate model with a photochemistry model to study the atmospheric natures of terrestrial planets around M dwarf stars. He is focused mainly on the TRAPPIST-1 system, whose seven planets span from inward of the inner edge of the habitable zone to beyond the outer edge, enabling the study of planetary atmospheric evolution and habitability within a single system. Furthermore, the star is small (about the size of Jupiter), providing sufficient signal to be observed by the James Webb Space Telescope with the hope to characterize the planetary atmospheres.
During summer of 2015, Andrew measured the pure rotational spectra of the rare stable isotopologues of Titanium Monoxide (TiO) at the University of Arizona with Professor Lucy Ziurys using the Ziurys group direct absorption millimeter wave spectrometer and their Fourier Transform microwave spectrometer. This required melting or laser ablation of high purity titanium with the presence of oxygen to form vapor-phase TiO. This is relevant for astrophysics because TiO is a potential nucleation particle for the formation of interplanetary dust and has been measured around the red supergiant VY Canis Majoris.
During summer of 2014, Andrew worked with Dr. Aki Roberge at NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center on the Haystacks project for simulating exoplanet observations by working on the code for generating a high-resolution spectral image model of the Solar System. High-fidelity planetary system spectra, including the star, the planets, and the effects of dust, are important in understanding the requirements for future observing missions under development.