Brianna Lacy

Ph.D. candidate, Astrophysics, Princeton University

Research: Constructing a theoretical framework to steer interpretations of observational data toward promising answers.
Host University: University of Texas at Austin
Year Awarded: 2021

Anticipating scientific revelations to come from forthcoming space telescopes, Brianna Lacy seeks to assist the field in processing a flood of new information with sophisticated techniques. Her contribution to the effort is a toolkit that realistically simulates observational data and identifies pressing questions based on the results. This framework converges multiple observational methods to study exoplanet atmospheres in particular, providing a clearer glance at the unknown conditions of these worlds. Brianna gained experience while collaborating with the Roman Space Telescope’s Coronagraph team to shape its science goals and design. Looking ahead, she plans to adapt her models to study exoplanet data following the James Webb Space Telescope’s (JWST) launch.

In her fellowship, Brianna will address the limitations of analyzing three-dimensional planets with one-dimensional models to provide a more robust understanding of exoplanet atmospheres. To accomplish this, Brianna will perform a series of studies exploring the impact of varied clouds and hazes on exoplanet atmosphere observations. Her work will support efforts that use measurements of atmospheric properties to test planet formation theories in the JWST era. Brianna is expected to graduate with a Ph.D. in astrophysics from Princeton University in Fall 2021.

View Brianna’s CV.

“Ensuring observational data receives the correct interpretation is the crux of my research. As we perfect our exoplanet models, we must also determine what questions are answerable with the assumptions we have in place.”