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Planetary Science

The Moon


Faculty Graduate Students Postdocs Alumni


Alexander Trowbridge

Alexander Trowbridge, PhD in Planetary Science, 2020

Alex earned his BA in Physics at Colorado College, during which time he also worked at the National Ignition Facility at Lawrence Livermore on a way to improve alignment efficiency of the Neutron Imaging System and at U. of New Mexico’s Center for High Technology Materials developing multi-junction solar cells. Here in EAPS, Alex focuses on hydrocode (iSALE) and finite element modeling (Abaqus) to analyze the full evolution of impact basins, from small basins to the large South Pole Aitken. He also studies the convection of nitrogen surface ice and the water-ice mantles on Pluto. When not doing research, Alex enjoys rock climbing, backpacking, canyoneering, skiing, and caving.


Sheridan Ackiss

Sheridan Ackiss, PhD in Planetary Science, 2019

Sheridan received her BS in Applied Mathematics from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 2012. After graduation, Sheridan worked at the Applied Physics Lab in Laurel, Maryland as a member of the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM) Science Team. Her research uses remote sensing data to study the mineralogy and morphology of possible subglacial volcanoes on Mars. This research is complimented by analog field studies in both Oregon, U.S.A. and Iceland. Sheridan is a science team collaborator on both the Mars Science Laboratory and Mars 2020 rover missions.


David Blair, PhD in Planetary Science, 2016

Dave Blair received his Ph.D. in Planetary Geophysics from Purdue University in 2016 working with Prof. Andy Freed and his B.S. in Geological Sciences from Case Western Reserve University. He is originally from Philadelphia, PA. Dave used finite element modeling (FEM) to show that large lava tubes potentially detected in GRAIL gravity data on the Moon could be stable over long time periods. Dave is now the Scientific Computing Coordinator for the Department of Chemistry and the Department of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences at Brown University.


Tim Bowling, PhD in Planetary Science, 2015

Tim Bowling received his BS in Physics and Music Performance from Augusta College in 2007. Tim's PhD research with Prof. Jay Melosh focused on hydrocode simulations of impacts on Ceres and Vesta. Following graduation, Tim was a TC Chamberlain Fellow at the University of Chicago from 2015-2017. Tim is now a researcher at the Planetary Science Institute as well as a Data Scientist at Metis in Chicago, Illinois.


Kevin Graves

Kevin Graves, PhD in Planetary Science, 2018

Kevin earned his BS in Physics in 2013 from Truman State University. He is currently a PhD student in the EAPS department at Purdue University. He has a passion for problem solving, data analysis, and coding. His research focused on physical mechanisms that cause asteroids to alter their surface properties helps explain why certain asteroids look similar to ordinary chondritic meteorites, and why others have stayed weathered in the space environment. Kevin is now a Business Intelligence Analyst at Southeast Hospital in Missouri.


Andrew Hesselbrock

Andrew Hesselbrock, PhD in Physics, 2018

Andy attended Miami University to earn a B.S. in Physics. Staying at Miami, he received his Masters in Physics while studying the rotational dynamics of Nereid, a moon of Neptune. He then enrolled at Purdue to earn his Physics PhD. Working with Dr. Minton he has created a computer simulation to model the formation of satellites from debris disks. This model has been applied to the formation of the Martian moons Phobos and Deimos, as well as the Uranian satellite Miranda. In addition to research, he also enjoys amateur astronomy and participating in outreach events with the public. While not pondering the mysteries of the universe, he spends his free time rock climbing, backpacking, cycling, and playing "unique" musical instruments. Andy now works in Dayton, Ohio.


Toshi Hirabayashi

Toshi Hirabayashi, Postdoctoral Associate (2016-2017)

Toshi was a postdoctoral associate working for Dr. Dave Minton and Dr. Jay Melosh. Toshi's research focused on modeling the evolution of crater-generated porosity in the lunar crust, using a crater terrain evolution model in conjunction with constraints from GRAIL gravity data. Using a Monte-Carlo simulation code, CTEM, and an impact simulation code, iSALE, he investigated crater generation and formation. Toshi is also interested in dynamics and mechanics such as theoretical modeling of gravity fields in an irregularly shaped body. Toshi is now an assistant professor at Auburn University.


Ya-Huei Huang

Ya-Huei Huang, PhD in Planetary Science, 2018

Ya-Huei (黃雅惠) comes from the south of Taiwan. She gets inspired by a variety of things such as black holes, comic books, college life, Grunge, and now impact cratering science! She earned her BS in Physics from National Chung-Cheng University, surrounding by pineapple farms. She earned her MS in Physics from National Tsing-Hua University and was doing protein folding dynamics after then. Her research focused on impact craters and is developing a model that tracks impact-generated material transport on the Moon. She enjoys learning geophysics, reading Apollo sample papers. Ya-Huei is now a Postdoc at MIT.


Brandon Johnson

Brandon Johnson, PhD in Physics, 2014

Brandon Johnson received his BS in Physics from Michigan Tech in 2009. Brandon's PhD research with Prof. Jay Melosh focused on hydrocode simulations of impact cratering, including the impact formation of chondrules and impact spherules. Brandon is now an Associate Professor in the Department of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences at Purdue University.


Jordan Kendall

Jordan Kendall, PhD in Physics, 2016

Jordan Kendall received his BS in Physics and Mathematics from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in 2009, and his PhD from Purdue in 2017, working with Prof. Jay Melosh. Jordan's PhD research focused on hydrocode modeling (in iSALE) of large asteroids striking planetary bodies. He modeled the fate of differentiated impactors during accretionary impacts, and investigated the South Pole-Aitken basin-forming impact on the Moon. Using high resolution 3D models, he determined the emplacement of the ejecta blanket for different impactor sizes, velocities, and angles. Jordan is now a postdoc at NASA Goddard.


Colleen Milbury, Postdoctoral Associate (2012-2016)

Colleen Milbury received her PhD from UCLA in 2011 and completed a postdoc at the Universite de Nantes in 2012, both in the area of planetary magnetism, before coming to Purdue. She simulated impact crater formation on the Moon in order to calculate gravity anomalies, and compared the results measurements from space-based sensors onboard GRAIL. Colleen is now the Data & Analytics Manager at First Hawaiian Bank.


Rebecca Smith

Rebecca Smith, Postdoctoral Associate (2016-2018)

Rebecca Smith received her BS in Geology from UC Berkeley in 2010 and her PhD in Geology from Arizona State University in 2016. Rebecca's research utilizes laboratory and remote sensing techniques as well as fieldwork to try to constrain chemical weathering environments on Mars. Her work with Prof. Briony Horgan at Purdue University focused on characterizing the composition of amorphous weathering products found in soils and sediments formed in a variety of terrestrial weathering environments, in order to understand the importance of amorphous phases found in Gale Crater on Mars. She is also a Mars Science Laboratory science team member. Becky is now a postdoc at Stony Brook University.


Jordan Steckloff, PhD in Physics, 2015

Jordan Steckloff received his BS in Physics, Economics, and German from the University of Michigan in 2009. In 2015, he received his Ph.D. in Physics from Purdue University for his dissertation entitled "On the Interaction of Sublimating Gases with Cometary Bodies." He later worked as a postdoc at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology starting in January of 2017, and began a second postdoctoral position in January of 2018 at the University of Texas at Austin. Jordan is now a Research Scientist at the Planetary Science Institute.


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