Planetary Chemistry Research


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 main categories:

The first project is 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 project explores 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. Understanding the physical and chemical processes that may have affected this high-temperature (molten rock + vapor) debris disk is important for understanding the observed chemical abundance patterns in lunar samples (provided by meteorites and the Apollo missions), and may provide further clues about the origin of the Moon (see CLOE).

A current list of publications is available here