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Exoplanets

Yale Astronomy

Research Scientists

Colby Jurgenson

Colby Jurgenson

Colby Jurgenson is a Research Scientist in the Department of Astronomy at Yale University who specializes in the development of state-of-the-art astronomical instrumentation. He has designed and built spectrographs, imaging cameras, and beam combiners, the principle tools of the astronomer, in wavelength regimes spanning the visible to the mid-Infrared. In the Summer of 2013, one of his spectrograph designs is set to begin operations on a 2.4-meter telescope in the mountains of New Mexico. This instrument, named NESSI, is the first of its kind, having been designed and built solely to characterize the atmospheres of exoplanets. NESSI will allow scientists to gain a deeper understanding not only of what gasses surround these alien worlds, but develop a clearer picture of their dynamics. He came to Yale to work in Debra Fischer's Exoplanet Laboratory on the 100 Earths Project, with the specific goal of designing, building, and implementing the necessary instrumentation to find Earth-like worlds around nearby stars.

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Tyler McCracken

Tyler McCracken

Tyler earned his Ph.D.from New Mexico Tech where he worked fringe-tracking for the interferometer at Magedelena Ridge Observatory. He is now a research scientist in the exoplanet group at Yale, developing a wavelength calibration technique based on a Fabry-Perot cavity locked to a stabilized laser. This approach offers advantages over other methods: it produces a broadband, comb-like output from 400 - 700 nm that is difficult to achieve with a laser frequency comb; by injecting into the science fibers before and after observations, weak stellar signals are not obliterated; and by locking the laser to an atomic transition, the spectrum is repeatable to 1 part in 10e-11 (1 cm/s).

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Dave Sawyer

Dave Sawyer David Sawyer is a research scientist in the exoplanet group who specializes in systems engineering and CCD detector systems. He brings 20 years of experience working at major astronomical observatories as an engineer/manager and has been involved in all aspects of project life cycles - from design through fabrication and commissioning to operations - for large telescope systems and science instrumentation. Dave has worked on the Giant Magellan and WIYN Telescopes, the KPNO MOSAIC imager, NOAO MONSOON CCD controllers, orthogonal transfer array CCD development, the WIYN giga-pixel One-Degree Imager, and WIYN multi-object spectrograph. Now, he is hot on the trail to develop the instruments needed to find Earth-like planets.

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Andrew Szymkowiak

Andrew Szymkowiak

Andy is a Senior Research Scientist in the Astronomy Department at Yale University, and advisor to the Exoplanets Instrumentation group. He is a classic MIT-trained rocket scientist and out of the box thinker!

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