Emily First

Ph.D., Geology and Geophysics, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa

Research: Casting light on the composition of rocky planets across the galaxy by cataloguing and interpreting geological signals.
Host University: Cornell University, Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences
Year Awarded: 2020

Viewing a meteorite from Mars under a microscope served as a moment of awe for Emily First, one of her early connections to the wonders of planetary science. With a wide-ranging background in geology, Emily is well equipped to tackle some of the most intriguing problems in exoplanet research today. From elucidating the history of Earth’s volcanic rocks to probing the origins of Moon rocks, she is an expert at considering minute details within their broader contexts. Her experimental work brings a unique depth and a fresh perspective to current and future assessments of exoplanet surfaces and interiors.

In her fellowship, Emily will gather diverse rock types from across the solar system that span a range of compositions and textures. After examining each specimen at a microscopic level, Emily will measure how the rocks absorb and emit light, and synthesize her findings into a robust and accessible dataset. Other planetary scientists will be able to compare this information to light signals from exoplanets to infer more about their compositional properties, and recognize ways these signals could be affected by rock textures and other physical properties. Emily’s interdisciplinary work will bridge the contributions of two fields, and support future research in determining the material compositions of potentially hundreds of exoplanets. In 2017, Emily received a Ph.D. in geology and geophysics from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, and pursued research at Brown University prior to starting her 51 Pegasi b Fellowship.

View Emily’s CV.

“I’m looking forward to bringing the exoplanet world closer to geologists, and my outside perspective and expertise to the exoplanet community.”