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Planetary Science

The Moon


Faculty Graduate Students Research Staff Alumni

Current Graduate Students

Giovanni Bacon

Giovanni Bacon, PhD Student


Giovanni Bacon earned his B.S. in Astronomy and Astrophysics with minors in Applied Mathematics and Computer Science from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University (Daytona, FL campus). He is known for his work with numerous NASA, USRA, and Embry-Riddle scientists. His contributions have been recognized and awarded during internships at NASA’s Goddard Spaceflight Center, Kennedy Space Center, and USRA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA). With research interests in planetary atmospheres and exoplanets, he focuses on combining the two to learn more about worlds within and outside of our solar system. Giovanni is currently working with Dr. Alexandria Johnson studying the formation and effects of clouds within Titan's atmosphere. For fun Giovanni loves travelling, trying new things, and exploring the outdoors.


Kyle Batra

Kyle Batra, PhD Student


Kyle completed his BS with honors in Astronomy & Astrophysics with minors in Physics and Astrobiolgy at Penn State University in 2022. During his undergraduate career, he researched planet interior evolution and mantle convection of stagnant-lid planets to determine how tectonic regimes impact planet habitability. Currently, Kyle is a PhD student working with Dr. Stephanie Olson in the Purdue Habitability & Biosigantures Lab. Kyle's current research is focused on modeling the evolution and habitability of exoplanets through interactions between the geosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere.


Mariana Blanco-Rojas

Mariana Blanco-Rojas, PhD Student


Mariana joined Purdue in 2023 as a PhD student in Dr. Mike Sori's group after completing her B.A in Physics and Origins Sciences at Case Western Reserve University. She’s primarily interested in the geodynamics of the icy moons of the outer solar system, as well as what we can learn about planetary surfaces through the analysis of remote sensed data. Outside of academics, Mariana enjoys rock climbing, jogging, embroidering, and has recently gotten into birding!


Austin Blevins

Austin Blevins, PhD Student


Austin Blevins was born 15 miles south of Detroit in the town of Trenton, Michigan. He became interested in planetary science and astronomy from a young age thanks to his parents owning a telescope. He attended the University of Michigan-Dearborn, where in 2018 he earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Earth Science with a minor in Astronomy. He studies the impact history of the Moon, particularly early period of the Solar System. Outside of research, Austin enjoys video games and stargazing.


Haleigh Brown

Haleigh Brown, PhD Student


Haleigh completed her BA in Computational Physics with minors in Computer Science and Mathematics at the University of Montana in 2023.  During her time as an undergraduate she worked with the Montana Space Grant Consortium on predicting weather balloon drift paths.  This experience led her to discover her interest in computational modeling and planetary science.  Haleigh is now a PhD student working with Dr. Stephanie Olson in the Purdue Habitability & Biosignatures Lab.  Her current research is focused on investigating how stellar flux, continental configuration, rotation rate, and surface pressure affect wet and dry cycles on early Earth and beyond.


Ashika Capirala

Ashika Capirala, PhD Student


Ashika received her B.S. in Earth and Space Sciences with a minor in Chemistry from the University of Washington in 2021. During her undergraduate career, she worked on paleoenvironmental reconstruction of Eocene monsoonal environments using stable isotopes. Ashika is interested in the co-evolution of life and its environment and habitability over time and space. She is currently working with Dr. Stephanie Olson on exploring the role of the marine biosphere and ocean circulation on planetary oxygenation. 


Melissa Cashion

Melissa Cashion, PhD Student


Melissa completed her BA in physics with minors in Astrophysics and Mathematics at Texas A&M University in 2020. During her undergraduate career she spent time researching the relationships of supermassive black holes with their host galaxies and investigating the survivability of planetary systems in globular star clusters, which led to an interest in planetary science. She is now a PhD student studying the formation of chondrules in the early outer solar system during giant planet accretion with Professor Brandon Johnson.


Stephanie Connell

Stephanie Connell, PhD Student


Stephanie Connell received her Bachelor of Science at the University of Winnipeg in Environmental Studies and Sciences focused on Global Environmental Systems. During her undergrad, Steph worked at the Centre for Terrestrial and Planetary Exploration and conducted research in the field of planetary science in spectroscopy, mineralogy, Mars habitability, and rover analog missions at Mars and lunar relevant sites. Stephanie also participated in a student-led space mission using a 3-U CubeSat for a low-Earth orbit geological experiment. During her time at the U of W, Steph joined the Mars2020 science team and became involved in various roles for Perseverance doing Mars rover operations. Currently, Stephanie is continuing her work with Mars2020 doing rover operations for Dr. Roger Wiens and will use data from the SuperCam instrument to observe the chemistry and mineralogy of rocks and “soils” on the surface of Mars.


Margaret Deahn

Margaret Deahn, PhD Student


Margaret graduated from SUNY Geneseo in 2021 with a B.A. in Geological Sciences and minors in Mathematics and Geography.  Her undergrad research focused on quantifying the morphometry of valley networks and bedrocks canyons on Earth and Mars.  She has completed three internships in the Planetary Geosciences group at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory characterizing landing sites for various Mars missions.  In 2023, she earned an M.A. in Earth and Planetary Sciences at Wesleyan University where she produced a geologic map of the DAVINCI probe target descent site on Venus.  She is now excited to be returning to Mars research working under Dr. Briony Horgan studying surface processes in and around Jezero crater as a student collaborator on the Mars 2020 science team!


Brad Garczynski

Brad Garczynski, PhD Student


Brad received his BA in Earth Science modified with Biology from Dartmouth College in 2016. After graduation, he taught a semester of high school geology in Zermatt, Switzerland and then returned to Dartmouth to work as a research assistant under Dr. Marisa Palucis, where he studied the timing of alluvial fan and delta features in the Gale Crater region. His current research focuses on identifying biosignatures in lacustrine carbonates using Mars 2020 instrumentation.


Greg Gosselin

Greg Gosselin, PhD Student


Greg earned his BS in Geology from James Madison University in 2018 with minors in geophysics and mathematics. Working with Professor Andy Freed, Greg's current research uses hydrocode (iSALE) and finite element models (Abaqus) to explain the complete evolution of Mercury's Caloris Basin. In his free time, Greg enjoys backpacking throughout the Appalachian Mountains and Pacific Northwest with his wife Sarah, and spending time with his two beagles Charlie and Lucy.


Cesare Guariniello

Cesare Guariniello, AAE Research Associate/EAPS MS Student


Cesare received an MS in Automation and Robotics Engineering and an MS in Astronautical Engineering at the University of Rome "La Sapienza". He then earned a PhD in Aeronautics and Astronautics at Purdue University. While continuing his engineering work as a research associate in the department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, he is also completing an MS in Planetary Science, using remote sensing to combine engineering and scientific requirements for the selection of human landing sites on Mars. His research spans System-of-Systems modeling and analysis, planetary geology, remote sensing, space systems design and architecture evaluation, and robotics.


Colin Hamill

Colin Hamill, PhD Student


Colin earned his BS in Physics with an Astrophysics concentration from Towson University in 2020. Before graduate school, he worked as an intern at the Applied Physics Laboratory studying the volatile polar deposits of Mercury. Currently, he is in the Johnson Cloud Lab studying the microphysics and scattering properties of (exo)planetary cloud particles.


Athanasios Klidaras

Athanasios Klidaras, PhD Student


Athanasios received his BSc and MSci in Geology from Imperial College London (UK) in 2022. His MSci dissertation involved mapping volcanism on Venus using Synthetic Aperture Radar. Athanasios currently works with Prof Briony Horgan as part of a project studying the stratigraphy and mineralogy of Noachian-aged clay deposits in order to shed light on the landscape and climate of ancient Mars. In his spare time, he enjoys hiking and listening to history podcasts.


Alexander Kling

Alexander Kling, PhD Student


Alexander is from New York City and earned his BS in Geology from Stony Brook University in 2020. His undergraduate research included a range of laboratory spectroscopy projects relevant to airless bodies in our solar system such as the Moon, Phobos, and Bennu. Alexander currently works with Dr. Michelle Thompson and is studying regolith samples returned during the Apollo program to understand how water forms on the Moon in relation to the space weathering processes that alter the lunar surface.


Kris Laferriere

Kris Laferriere, PhD Student


Kris received her Bachelor of Science in Astronomy and Physics from the University of Maryland College Park in 2020. Currently, she is a PhD student working with Professor Ali Bramson to explore volatile transport and climatic history on Mars through radar observations of the polar spiral troughs.


Emilie Lafleche

Emilie Lafleche, PhD Student


Emilie received her BS in Honours Planetary Sciences at McGill University in June 2021. She is currently studying biospheric seasonality on early Earth and Earth-like exoplanets under the mentorship of Stephanie Olson in the Purdue Habitability and Biosignatures (PHaB) Lab. During her undergrad, Emilie worked on several research themes, including surface mapping of simulated exoplanets, remote sensing of lunar impact melt deposits, and experimental precipitation of Mg-clays from biotic solutions. Outside of the lab, she is a member of the EAPS Outreach Committee and is participating in her first analog space simulation mission at LunAres Research Station in June 2022.


Henry Manelski

Henry Manelski, PhD Student


Henry received his BSc from Columbia University in Applied Mathematics in 2022. Currently, he is a PhD student working with Professor Roger Wiens on exploring Martian geochemistry using LIBS and VISIR spectroscopy as a member of the SuperCam science team. Outside of research, he enjoys language learning and stargazing.


James McFadden

James McFadden, PhD Student


Growing up in Venice Beach, California, James received his AA in General Sciences before honing his skills in Earth and Planetary sciences at University of California, Santa Cruz where he received his BS in Earth Science with a Planetary Focus. After graduating in 2017, he worked as an Earth and Space Science teacher while volunteering time to work with his undergraduate adviser analyzing spectral features on the lunar surface with respect to space weathering. In 2019 he presented his work at the annual Lunar and Planetary Science Conference and published his first paper. Currently, James is working on the space weathering of lunar soil samples with Dr. Michelle Thompson.


Riley McGlasson

Riley McGlasson, PhD Student


Riley earned her B.A. in physics with an emphasis in astronomy and a math minor from Macalester College in May 2020. She is interested in planetary radar and all things ice. For her undergraduate thesis, she developed a radar-based shape model of the asteroid Midas. Her current research in the Bramson lab is focused on how radar observations of ice in the lab and in the field can help us to better characterize ice on Mars.


Lisette Melendez

Lisette Melendez, PhD Student


Lisette completed their B.S. in Geology and Astronomy at the University of South Florida in 2021. Their past research includes studying the boulder morphology of asteroid Bennu and its possible links to carbonaceous chondrites found within the collections of the Smithsonian NMNH, as well as examining the effects of paraglaciation across the mid-latitudes of Mars. Currently, Lisette is a PhD student working with Dr. Michelle Thompson on characterizing the effects of space weathering in samples from asteroid Ryugu - and soon, asteroid Bennu! - using transmission electron microscopy.


Stephanie Menten

Stephanie Menten, PhD Student


Stephanie earned her B.S. in Geology from North Carolina State University in May 2020.  She is interested in planetary ices, specifically in understanding the mechanics of cryovolcanism on icy bodies in the outer solar system. Her research in Dr. Mike Sori's group is focused on understanding cryovolcanism and volatile transport Charon and other outer solar system objects.


Moe Mijjum

Moe Mijjum, PhD Student


Moe grew up in Los Angeles, CA before moving to the bay area to receive her B.A in Planetary Science from UC Berkeley in 2020. There, she became interested in the intersection between geo/cosmochemistry and planetary science applications. She now works in the Purdue Thermochronology Lab, using cosmic-ray exposure ages as tools to explore the thermal history of (really, anything she can)- from terrestrial lava flows to meteorites.


Ian Pamerleau

Ian Pamerleau, PhD Student


Ian received a BS in Geology and Mathematics from the University of Pittsburgh where he helped develop an automated floodplain mapping algorithm. Now, he is working toward a PhD with Dr. Mike Sori studying planetary geophysics and surface processes. His interests lie in understanding these processes and what they can tell us about the history and interior of planets. Currently, he is working on constraining Ceres’ crustal ice content using FEM models of viscously relaxed craters.


Santa Lucia Perez-Cortes

Santa Lucia Perez-Cortes, PhD Student


Santa Lucia Perez-Cortes received her BS in Geology from the University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez Campus in June 2022. During her undergraduate studies, she worked on research related to eolian geomorphology looking at scouring pits in the Medusa Fossae Formation and depressions across North Polar dunes on Mars. Currently, Santa is a Ph.D. student working with Dr. Ali Bramson, and her current research is focused on studying the formation of landslides on different planetary bodies across the Solar System. She enjoys hiking, reading, and (whenever she gets the chance to go back home) warm weather.


Hunter Vannier

Hunter Vannier, PhD Student


Hunter received his BA from Wesleyan University in 2020, majoring in Astronomy and minoring in Planetary Science. His undergraduate research centered on reconstructing the interstellar environment our solar system has most recently traversed. Currently, his research focuses on using remote sensing to characterize volcanic features on the Moon. With Professor Briony Horgan, he analyzes visible to near-infrared spectra to constrain the composition and formation mechanism of the youngest and oldest volcanic features on the lunar surface. 


Kevin Walker

Kevin Walker, MS Student

Kevin earned a BS in Industrial Engineering in 2016 and a BS in Interdisciplinary Science (Astrobiology) in 2020, both from Purdue University. In pursuit of astrobiology, he became motivated to study exoplanet atmospheres with an interest in assessing planetary habitability. He currently works with Professor Alexandria Johnson in the Johnson Cloud Lab studying the scattering properties of aerosols and cloud droplets to support new methods of exploring exoplanet atmospheres.


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