As a voracious young reader, Huazhi Ge scoured encyclopedias to learn as much as he could about the planets in our solar system, especially giant planets, exotic in their differences from Earth. As a Ph.D. candidate, Huazhi himself is expanding this body of knowledge in extraordinary ways. He took part in the development of a breakthrough 3D cloud-resolving circulation model that simulates how storms function on giant planets and their impact on these massive substellar objects. These simulations helped explain unexpected observations about Jupiter’s interior and atmosphere from ground-based telescopes and NASA space missions, including Juno and Galileo.

During his fellowship, Huazhi will apply his cloud-resolving model to answer further questions about the atmosphere of Jupiter prompted by Juno observations, providing clues to that planet’s interior structure and evolution. He will also study the cloudy atmosphere of Uranus to inform observations for a future NASA flagship mission to that unexplored planet. Because the scientific literature suggests similar discrepancies between assumed characteristics of brown dwarfs and those observed from JWST, Huazhi is eager to apply his circulation model to these exoplanets as well—exploring giant-planet dynamics that have sizeable implications for solar systems across the galaxy. Huazhi received a Ph.D. in planetary science from the University of California, Santa Cruz, in Spring 2023.

“We have studied the climate on Earth through cloud resolving models for a few decades. Studying Jupiter in this way is a new start. It’s also a very big challenge, and I like challenges.”