Rachel B. Fernandes


I am a Ph.D. candidate at the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory & the Department of Planetary Sciences at The University of Arizona where I work with Dr. Ilaria Pascucci and Dr. Gijs Mulders on the detection, characterization and demographics of exoplanetary systems using data from both ground- and space-based telescopes.

My research background in planet formation spans from my undergraduate work at the University of Cincinnati from where I hold a dual Bachelor of Science degree in Astrophysics and Physics, with a minor in Mathematics. Under the mentorship of Dr. Mike Sitko, I used a Monte Carlo Radiative Transfer (MCRT) code to model the near-IR variability and the outer structures (gaps, rings, spirals arms, etc.) of the dust component of protoplanetary disks around Herbig Ae/Be stars.

I am also a part of the NASA NExSS Alien Earths/Earths in Other Solar Systems (EOS) team where we integrate research results from fourteen multi-disciplinary projects to advance our understanding of how nearby planetary systems formed and which systems are more likely to harbor habitable worlds. Identifying the closest, likely habitable worlds is a major goal of astrobiology and also a key step in NASA’s search for life in the Universe.