Science Education and Project-Based Learning
Coming from a family of educators, I have always valued the importance of inspiring and educating the next generation of scientists. I have spent extensive time learning about important techniques for effectively transferring knowledge through active, project-based activities. In addition, I have also spent most of my graduate career involved in evaluating the lasting effect of our astronomy department's outreach on the students we interact with. This nearly decade-long effort across several generations of graduate students resulted in a manuscript about our application of the Draw A Scientist Test (Hayes et al. 2020).
Chemistry of Evolved Stars
The envelopes around evolved stars are unique laboratories to study astrochemistry, as their initial ingredients are heavily dependent of the chemical makeup of their parent star. As a result, it is common for these areas to be extremely rich in carbon or oxygen. These are also thought to potential factories for interstellar dust. From the initial molecular seeds of dust formation to elemental-dominated chemistry, I've utilized these sources to understand how chemistry will proceed far later in the stellar formation timeline.
One of my first projects while an undergraduate student at the University of Michigan was observing orbital debris particles with advanced optical astronomical telescopes, including the Michigan Orbital DEbris Survey Telescope (MODEST) and the Magellan Telescopes in Chile with Dr. Patrick Seitzer. While my main research has moved to other topics, I remain a strong supporter of preserving of our invaluable Low Earth and Geosynchronous Orbits, keeping up to date with the recent going ons. (Image: NASA Orbital Debris Program)