Academic Background

Professional Appointments

Current Research Interests

My planetary chemistry research involves modeling physical and chemical processes in planetary and astrophysical environments. The goal of this work is to better understand the underlying chemistry responsible for the observed properties of planetary atmospheres, and to provide clues about the formation and evolution of planetary systems. Ongoing research projects are divided into two general themes.

The first involves a comprehensive study of chemistry in the atmospheres giant planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune), exoplanets (planets orbiting stars other than the Sun), and brown dwarfs (“failed stars” with insufficient mass to sustain hydrogen fusion). This work includes modeling reaction chemistry and cloud formation (including exotic clouds consisting of rocky material or metals) in planetary atmospheres, and exploring potential effects on observational properties.

The second involves an exploration of the chemistry of the forming Moon. In the prevailing hypothesis for lunar origin, the Moon formed from an Earth-orbiting disk of rocky debris that was produced by the collision of a large planet with the Earth early in its history (the “giant-impact hypothesis”). Understanding the physical and chemical processes that may have affected the resulting high-temperature (molten rock + vapor) debris disk is important for understanding the inherited chemical abundance patterns observed in lunar samples (provided by meteorites and the Apollo missions), and may provide further clues about the origin and evolution of the Moon (see CLOE).

A current list of publications is available here.