I am a fifth year grad student at LPL interested in planetary surfaces working with Dr. Shane Byrne. I have a B.S. in physics and astronomy-physics with a certificate (minor) in computer science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Go Badgers!
My thesis work is focused on Mars mid-latitude ice and what it can tell us about the Martian climate system, particularly the stability of water (at least in ice and vapor form) in the Amazonian period. In August 2015 I published my study on an ice sheet the size of California and Texas combined just underneath the surface of Mars that goes as deep as a 13-story building. To find this ice, I used a high-resolution camera called HiRISE, which we operate here at the Lunar and Planetary Lab on campus, as well as a radar instrument called SHARAD, which are both onboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Now, I am using my 1D thermal conduction model to look into how this ice could have been preserved throughout the last 10s of millions of years (the expected age of the ice) and what the implications of its continued survival are for the distribution of ice on the planet.
I'm also collaborating with Dr. Elena Martellato and colleagues to study the formation of really cool 'terraced' craters, which I suggest (in my 2015 paper) formed from impacts through the ice sheet. These craters allowed me to determine the depth to the bottom of the ice sheet, thus putting volume and dielectric constant constraints on the Arcadia ice.
Shane's research group (we call ourselves ICEPIG) recently worked on a project together (led by Dr. Mike Sori) to model carbon dioxide ice transport and stability on Umbriel, a moon of Uranus. Based on our thermal modeling and ballistic transport of CO2 molecules, we predict the bright spot inside the crater Wunda is a deposit of such CO2 ice. (paper in revision).
I've also done field work in Iceland, where I was part of a team studying the new lava flow at Holuhraun, as an analog to many lava flows we see on Mars. Through NASA's FINESSE program, I also helped map lava flow margins at Craters of the Moon for Ethan Schaefer's study comparing the fractal dimensions of various lava flow margins (including those in Idaho, Iceland and Hawaii).
I recently used my thermal model to calculate temperatures on Ceres for Dr. Mike Sori's predictions of the viscous flow of Ahuna Mons and cryovolcanic features on the planet. In this paper we find that viscous flow rates are slow enough at the location of Ahuna Mons that it would remain identifiable as a cryovolcanic feature today, given the expected young age of the dome. However, relaxation is fast enough on Ceres to obscure older features, offering an explaination for the lack of obsevations of numerous, older cryovolcanoes. We also predict to find a latitude-dependent asymmetry in equatorward vs. poleward facing slopes of cryovolcanic domes due to temperature differences of these slopes affecting the rates of viscous flow; if this distribution in the topography of domes at the mid-latitudes is observed, it would add strong support to the hypothesis that Ceres undergoes ice-rich cryovolcanism.
I was a member of the 6th International Conference on Mars Polar Science and Exploration synthesis team, helping to summarize the content of the conference as well as progress made since the 5th conference, and develop a list of outstanding questions facing the Mars Polar community heading forward. The paper resulting from this effort has been submitted as the introduction to the Icarus special issue on Mars Polar Science.