Current Research

The Kepler mission has discovered more planets around other stars than any other survey to date. However, nearly all methods find the planets by looking for periodic transit signals — accurate for most planets. But sometimes nearby planets can tug on each other's orbits, producing transit timing variations (TTVs) such that they don't transit perfectly periodically, and are thus missed by all the Kepler pipelines.

I'm developing the Quasi-periodic Automated Transit Search (QATS, pronounced cats) pipeline to find these planets that everyone else missed because of their TTVs. While QATS is designed with TTV planets in mind, I've also made sure it can detect periodic planets and works as a general purpose planet detection pipeline as well.

I'm currently working to apply QATS to search for planets in both the original Kepler data as well as the new K2 campaigns. I've been working with Rodrigo Luger to develop the EVEREST pipeline for K2 stars. Combining the EVEREST light curves with the QATS planet search allows us to find hundreds of planet candidates in K2.

We are also using the K2 data as a test bed for TESS. We hope to apply EVEREST and QATS to the TESS data and find planets around the brightest stars in the sky.

Beyond discovering planets, I want to explore the systems with TTVs more carefully and fully characterize them. I also plan to use the K2 and TESS planets to learn about how planetary systems evolve with stellar mass and age.