mars covered glacial deposits middle latitudes


Colette Salyk


McDonald Observatory/Department of Astronomy

I am an incoming postdoctoral fellow at UT/McDonald Observatory. I received a BS in planetary science from MIT, and a PhD in planetary science from Caltech. At MIT I studied planetary atmospheres via stellar occultations, and at the beginning of my time at Caltech, I studied Jupiter's wind dynamics using Cassini imaging data. However, my main interest, and the focus of my PhD thesis, is spectroscopic observations of protoplanetary disks - disks of gas and dust around young stars that are believed to be the birthplaces of planets. Medium-to-high resolution spectra allow us to identify and characterize the molecular gas components of the disks, including such molecules as carbon monoxide and water. I have thus far primarily utilized the Keck telescope, on Mauna Kea, and the Spitzer Space Telescope. However, I plan on working with the Herschel Space Observatory and McDonald Observatory in the coming years. I am especially interested in using observations to understand how disks evolve from their early stages, when they are thick and active, into thinner, calmer, debris disks, and finally into the planetary systems we know to be common around sun-like stars.