The faculty, staff and graduate students of NAU’s Department Astronomy & Planetary Science
From current, adjunct, and emeritus faculty to staff and graduate students, find out more about their backgrounds and career highlights.
Faculty Accordion Closed
Dr. Barlow specializes in the study of planetary surface processes, with an emphasis on impact cratering. She uses ejecta and interior features to study the influence of water and ice on the formation and modification of impact craters, particularly on Mars. Her current focus is on central pit craters across the solar system and how Martian climate change has produced unusual ejecta deposits around mid-latitude craters. She also serves as Director of the NAU/NASA Space Grant Program and is an Associate Director of the Arizona Space Grant Consortium.
Dr Burr’s primary interest are the landforms that result from fluid flow. Fluid flow includes flow by water that formed ancient rivers deposits on Mars, as well as flow in current rivers of liquid nitrogen on Titan, the largest moon of Saturn. Dr Burr also studies the deposits formed by the flow of air, or wind, on Mars and Titan. In addition, Dr. Burr studies lava flows on Mars and the tectonic landforms on icy satellites of the outer Solar System.
Dr. Chien focuses her research on studying the star formation, starbursts and star clusters in interacting and merging galaxies. Through spectroscopy and imaging of newly-formed clusters in these galaxies, she studies their properties and mechanisms of their formation. She also makes models of galaxy interactions to study their dynamics and star formation history. Dr. Chien is also devoted to teaching physics and astronomy, and a strong supporter of women and diversity in science.
Dr. Edwards is a planetary geologist and instrument developer. His research focuses on constraining early solar system processes by using the composition, physical properties and processes, and morphology of planetary surfaces. He is a participating scientist on the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity Rover, and has works actively with numerous other NASA Mars missions including the 2001 Mars Odyssey Thermal Emission Imaging System, Mars Global Surveyor Thermal Emission Spectrometer, and the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars.
Dr. Emery applies the techniques of astronomical reflection and emission spectroscopy and spectrophotometry of primitive and icy bodies in the near- (0.8 to 5.0 microns) and mid-infrared (5 to 50 microns) to investigate the formation and evolution of the Solar System and the distribution of organic material. The Jupiter Trojan asteroids have been a strong focus of his research, and he also regularly observes Kuiper Belt objects, icy satellites, and other asteroid groups to understand the state of their surfaces as related to these topics. Along with telescopic observations, he contributes to Solar System exploration as a science team member on the OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample return mission, the Lucy Trojan asteroid flyby mission, and the NEO Surveyor Mission infrared telescope mission.
Dr. Koerner uses space- and ground-based telescopes to study the properties of planetesimal disks around nearby stars. Dr. Koerner also carries out ground-based optical observations of nearby stars to determine their ages as a proxy for the evolutionary state of their planetary systems. These programs work together to build understanding of the origin, evolution, and prevalence of planets and their potential to host life.
Dr. Loeffler uses laboratory experiments to simulate processes that occur in extraterrestrial environments. These studies typically focus on how radiation and thermal processes can alter the physical and chemical properties of the surface with the goal of trying to understand how these environments evolve over time.
Dr. Robinson studies the atmospheres of worlds both inside and outside the Solar System. In working with a number of NASA teams, Dr. Robinson is engaged in designing future telescopes that would study exoplanets and their potential to harbor life. He is also interested in using spacecraft data to both better understand the thick atmosphere of Venus and to place Earth in the context of other rocky planets in our galaxy.
Dr. Salvatore studies the evolution of planetary surfaces and landscapes. His research has focused primarily on Antarctica and Mars, where cold and dry conditions dominate the surface and result in unique geologic processes. His work uses a combination of satellite image analyses, laboratory analyses, and field work. Dr. Salvatore is also a member of the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover team.
Dr. Tegler uses ground-based telescopes to study the physical and chemical properties of Kuiper belt objects at the edge of the Solar System. In addition, he conducts laboratory experiments to study the physical and chemical properties of ices important to understanding processes on the surfaces of outer Solar System objects. The overarching goal of Dr. Tegler’s research is to better understand the origin and evolution of the Solar System.
Dr. Thomas uses ground and space-based telescopes to study near-Earth, Main Belt, and Trojan asteroids. Her research focuses on using spectroscopy to study the composition and physical properties of the surfaces of asteroids. She is also performs observations in support of spacecraft missions and works with the science team for NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission.
Dr. Trilling studies the small bodies in our Solar System to understand how our planetary system formed and evolved. He uses telescopes all over the world and in space, as well as archival data and, soon, data from LSST.
Dr. Trujillo searches for new dwarf planets and minor planets on the outer edge of our solar system. He has been involved in the discovery and characterization of Kuiper Belt Objects, Centaurs, Comets and Active Asteroids including seven of the ten largest dwarf planets in our solar system. He is very interested in data-intensive science and is currently looking for the presence of a possible giant planet undiscovered in our own solar system.
Visiting faculty / research associates Accordion Closed
Dr. Hanley is a Lowell Observatory astronomer working in collaboration with the NAU Astrophysical Ice Lab to investigate the stability and spectral properties of ices at low temperatures and pressures with relevance to the outer solar system, especially Pluto and Titan. Current work includes determining spectral properties of ethane+methane+nitrogen mixtures for determining the compositions of Titan’s lakes, as well as their freezing temperatures. Other research interests include the stability of water on Mars and Europa in the presence of chlorine salts (chlorides, perchlorates and chlorates). She is currently working on new techniques to determine the distribution of chlorine salts on Mars via remote sensing, as well as using DCT to identify chlorine salts on Europa.
Alicia earned her BS in Aerospace Engineering and her MS in Forestry from Texas A&M University in 2004 and 2006. She earned her PhD in Geological Sciences from Arizona State University in 2015. Alicia’s research integrates remote sensing, field work, and laboratory measurements to better understand planetary surface processes and the role of climate in alteration processes. She is especially interested in using geochemistry and mineralogy to investigate cryosphere-bedrock interactions on Earth and Mars. Her work in the Department of Astronomy and Planetary Science focuses on investigating the composition and origin of weathering products at Mars analog field sites such as the Cascades Range, Oregon, USA, and the summit glaciers of Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania. Alicia is a team member on the Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) aboard NASA’s Mars Odyssey.
Postdoctoral Scholars Accordion Closed
Jennifer Buz is a postdoctoral scholar in the Edwards research group. She works on understanding the surfaces of terrestrial planets, specifically their mineralogy and physical properties. Determining these characteristics allows us to imagine how landscapes have evolved and the current processes affecting them. She specializes in remote sensing techniques such as mapping through imagery and spectroscopy (in the visible to thermal wavelengths). While at NAU Jennifer will also work on thermophysical modeling to understand grain sizes and temperature effects on surfaces through calculation of their thermal inertias. Jennifer is also a member of the Mars Science Laboratory (Curiosity rover) science operations team.
Dr. McAdam works on understanding the early solar system’s history by studying the best preserved remnants of these times: meteorites and asteroids. Meteorites (or pieces of asteroids that made it to Earth) can be studied using a technique called spectroscopy (or the interaction between matter and light). Connecting meteorites to asteroids using spectroscopy allows us extend our understanding of meteorites from laboratory studies to asteroids in space. McAdam works on both laboratory studies of meteorites and telescopic observations of asteroids.
Dr. McNeill uses photometry from large surveys to study the shape and spin properties of Main Belt Asteroids and Near Earth Objects. Aside from this, his main research focus is the identification and classification of ‘extreme asteroids’, objects with unusual shapes and rotation periods. Study of these objects can be used to give insight into the composition and internal structure of asteroids and tell us more about the evolution of these populations in our Solar System.
Kathryn Powell is a postdoctoral scholar working with Prof. Christopher Edwards. She studies the mineralogy and thermophysical properties of the Martian surface using visible to near infrared and thermal infrared remote sensing. She is a member of the MSL Curiosity rover science team.
Adjunct faculty Accordion Closed
|David Begay, Indigenous Astronomy||NAU||David.Begay@nau.edu|
|Deidre A. Hunter, Star formation||Lowell Observatoryemail@example.com|
|Tobias J. Kreidl, Ap Stars, Variable Stars||NAU/ITS||Tobias.Kreidl@nau.edu|
|Nancy Maryboy, Indigenous Astronomy||NAU||Nancy.Maryboy@nau.edu|
|Philip Massey, Evolution of Massive Stars||Lowell Observatory||Phil.Massey@lowell.edu|
|Lisa Prato, Young Binary Systems||Lowell Observatoryfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|David G. Schleicher, Chemical Abundances and Physical Properties of Comets||Lowell Observatoryemail@example.com|
|Carolyn S. Shoemaker, Asteroids and Comets||Lowell Observatoryfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Tim Titus, Astrophysics||U.S. Geological Surveyemail@example.com|
|Donna Weistrop, Astronomy||UNLV/NAUfirstname.lastname@example.org|
Emeritus faculty Accordion Closed
|Gary Bowman, Ph.D., Quantum Physics||Gary.Bowman@nau.edu|
|David Cornelison, Ph.D., Surface Physics||David.Cornelison@nau.edu|
|Kathy Eastwood, Ph.D., Astronomy||Kathy.Eastwood@nau.edu|
|Richard Hall, Ph.D., Photometry||Richard.Hall@nau.edu|
|Henry Hooper, Ph.D., Physics||Henry.Hooper@nau.edu|
|Mark James, Ph.D., Physics Education||Mark.James@nau.edu|
|Gordon Johnson, Ph.D., Science Education||Gordon.Johnson@nau.edu|
Barry Lutz, Ph.D., Laboratory Astrophysics
|Tim Porter, Ph.D., Surface Physics||Tim.Porter@nau.edu|
Graduate students Accordion Closed
Joe Llama (Lowell Observatory)