My research interests converge on white dwarf stars, the endpoints of stellar evolution for more than 97 percent of all stars in our Galaxy, such as the core of the Cat's Eye Nebula in the Hubble telescope image above. My research uses white dwarf stars as stable clocks. These clocks are so interesting and diverse they can test general relativity, reveal the presence of planets, and allow us to watch stellar evolution on human timescales. I also use stellar pulsations and binary white dwarf systems to determine fundamental parameters of these burnt-out stars.
Adapted from the introduction of my PhD dissertation, I have included some brief outlines of my research interests at the top of this page.
For nearly all of this work, I perform time-series photometry on these stars, making a light curve of how the object's brightness changes with time. My work has chiefly been carried out with the Argos instrument on the 2.1m Otto Struve telescope at the McDonald Observatory in West Texas, where I spent an average of 5 nights out of each month as a graduate student at UT-Austin.
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Kepler Asteroseismology of White Dwarf Stars
June 2013, KASC Sixth Workshop, Sydney, Australia (invited talk)
Orbital Decay from Gravitational Wave Radiation in a 12.75-min WD+WD Binary
Oct. 2012, Solar, Stellar, and Planetary Sciences Seminar, Harvard-Smithsonian CfA
Eight Years On: A Search for Planets Around Isolated White Dwarfs
Jan. 2012, Planets Around Stellar Remnants, Arecibo, Puerto Rico (invited talk)
Recent Work with Low-Mass White Dwarf Stars
Oct. 2011, Stellar Seminar, UT-Austin
A ZZ Ceti Star in the Kepler Field
July 2011, KASC Fourth Workshop, Boulder, CO
Don't Blink: White Dwarf Stars in the Kepler Field
Mar. 2011, Stellar Seminar, UT-Austin
Using White Dwarf Stars to Understand the Future of our Solar System
Mar. 2011, UT POSSE (undergraduate-level presentation), UT-Austin
Two Planets Around NN Serpentis
Nov. 2010, Planets and Life Journal Club, UT-Austin
WD0111+0018: The Runaway Pulsating White Dwarf
Oct. 2010, Stellar Seminar, UT-Austin