Students


Current

Alec Vinson (Astro Grad)

Alec is doing a thesis on the spin dynamics of planets in resonant multi-planet systems. His first paper on the general idea has been published and so has a second, follow-up paper, with specific application to the TRAPPIST system ( here).

Jon Zink (Astro Grad)

Jon is working a project on applying statistical inference methods to exoplanet demographics, in collaboration with Jessie Christiansen at Nexsci. He finds that the Kepler data is biased towards finding an excess of single planets, because of the difficulty of detected multiple planets. He is now working with Jessie on the creation of a general catalog of K2 planets, and will investigate the same multiplicity biases in the K2 catalogue.
Tze (Matt) Yu (Astro Grad)

Matt is examining models for the trapping of planets in an inner disk, incorporating a more realistic treatment of the disk physics. He is working in collaboration with Yasuhiro Hasegawa at JPL.
Kevin Hayakawa (Astro Grad)

Kevin is pursuing a project to examine the dust dynamics of small particles under the influence of planetary perturbations. He is working in collaboration with Yasuhiro Hasegawa at JPL.


Former

Shane Frewen (Astronomy;PhD 2015)

Shane did a thesis on the dynamical stability of planetary systems undergoing stellar evolution. The motivations for this project are the observations of tidally disrupted asteroids around white dwarfs, which suggest that, at least some portion of planetary systems around old stars experience dynamical instability.

Short video interviews with Shane and other grad students can be found on the UCLA Planets Institute Website

Upon graduation, Shane decided to follow his passion for teaching at Flintridge Prep. .

Ian Crossfield (Astronomy; PhD 2012)

Ian completed a thesis on the search for emission from hot Jupiter planets using a variety of telescopes, including Spitzer, Keck, IRTF and Subaru. He spent three years as a Sagan Prize Fellow at the Universities of Arizona and of California, Santa Cruz. He is now an Assistant Professor at MIT.

Thayne Currie (Astronomy; PHD 2006)

Thayne worked on models of protoplanetary gas disk evolution with me, and then moved on to observational studies of infrared excesses in young clusters, working mostly with the CfA and Arizona groups, with Ben Zuckerman as official UCLA advisor, and Scott Kenyon as CfA advisor. Thayne is now a research associate at the National Observatories of Japan.

Eugene Chen (Physics; PHD 2008)

Eugene completed a thesis on the spectral evolution of white dwarfs under the influence of accretion from the ISM and how this affects observational quantities like the white dwarf luminosity function.i Eugene moved into industry, first at DecisionNext and now at Adobe.

F. Elliot Koch (Physics; PHD 2008)

Elliot has completed a thesis on gravitational dynamics. The two principal applications were studies of the interaction of multiple black holes in galactic nuclei and of the collisional evolution of planetesimals, with application to the formation of the irregular satellites of the solar system.

Elliot is now a data scientist at Green Charge Networks, in the Bay Area.

Steve Berukoff (Physics; PHD 2009)

Steve completed a thesis in two parts. One was dynamical simulations of the dissolution of star clusters in the Galactic center, particularly ones with central black holes. The second part was a study of the dynamical and thermal stability of protoplanetary disks.

After graduation, Steve moved into data management and is now the Data center project manager at the National Solar Observatory.

Hsin-Yi (Jenny) Shih (Physics; BS 2007)

Jenny worked on the assembly of planetesimals to form terrestrial-stype planets, but under the conditions appropriate to the formation of the pulsar planets. A paper summarising this work was published in the Astrophysical Journal in 2009. She went to grad school at the University of Hawaii and is now an instructor at University of Hawaii, Maui College.

Tiffany Meshkat (Physics; BS 2009)

Tiffany performed some calculations regarding the location and stability of trojan-class particles in extrasolar systems where the planets are on elliptical orbits. Tiffany went on to do a PhD at Leiden University in the Netherlands. She has returned to Southern California as a research scientist at IPAC .
Jonathan Zink (Physics; BS 2013)

Jon explored the limits placed by current radial velocity data on missing planets in high multiplicity exoplanet systems. This is part of an ongoing project to study the long term secular behaviour of such systems, because the secular oscillations of a system will depend on all the planets in a system. Jon is now a grad student at UCLA (see above)

Ron Lopez (Physics; BS 2015)

Ron looked at the effects of tides in young planetary systems and is now a grad student in Astronomy at UCLA .

Justin Grace (Physics; BS 2015)

Justin examined the mathematics of Hohmann transfer orbits in the context of co-orbital, horseshoe orbits. This is motivated by proposals of several groups seeking to make a reality of Asteroid mining. The co-orbital population of Earth is one potential source of easy to reach asteroids. Justin is now a grad student at Michigan State .

Marcie Mun (Physics; BS 2016)

Marcie examined the statistical distribution of exoplanets in period and radius to see if there is any physical difference between systems which show multiple transitting planets and those which show only singles.
Chris O'Conner (UCLA undergrad)

Chris has looked at using planets in open clusters and star forming regions to better constrain tidal evolution, and studied how the presence of a giant planet on large scales affects the assembly of rocky planets on smaller scales. Chris is now a graduate student at Cornell .
Armen Tokadjian (Physics; BS 2018)

Armen did a project to examine how planets responded to mass loss, using polytropes and full evolutionary models. He examined the case for both hot and cold planets, and the effects of rotation. Armen is now a graduate student at USC.
Sasha Strelnikoff (Physics; BS 2018)

Sasha looked at the erosive and spin dynamics of asteroids subjected to a strong erosive wind. The goal of this project is to examine how the shapes of asteroids are affected if they spend any length of time in a red giant wind.
Cameron Dong (Physics; BS 2019)

Cameron looked at models for the formation of the Earth's moon, and how those would work if the Earth were instead at Venus' location, i.e. he is investigating whether there are mechanisms that favour the existence of a moon around Earth but not Venus. Cameron is now serving a NASA internship in Cincinatti.
I am, of course, always willing to talk to prospective students about potential projects.

If I'm not around, it may be because I'm travelling. Here is my travel schedule:

Here is my academic family tree (advisors advisor and so on).