Work by Cool Star Lab Alumna Aishwarya Iyer Featured in NASA Press Release

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Cool Star Lab alumna Aishwarya Iyer, currently a Master’s student at CSU Northridge and intern at Jet Propulsion Laboratory, has recently published work on exoplanet atmospheres that has been featured in a NASA Press Release. Her paper, “A Characteristic Transmission Spectrum Dominated by H2O Applies to the Majority of HST/WFC3 Exoplanet Observations“, published in the Astrophysical Journal, concludes that most hot Jupiter atmospheres likely contain water vapor, even those that show weak water features. This is due to the role of hazes and clouds, which can obscure molecular gas features. Aisha and her team performed a comprehensive analysis of 19 Hot Jupiter transmission spectra taken by HST/WFC3, and modeling analysis indicates that the bulk of water vapor lies below the cloud layers. This work is a major advance in understanding the role of clouds and haze in exoplanetary atmospheres, which are also important constituents in brown dwarf atmospheres.

The paper can be accessed at…823..109I and the press release can be found at

2014 Summer Undergraduate Research Conference


Cool Star Lab undergraduates participated en masse at the 2014 Summer Undergraduate Research Conference  (SURC) on August 14th.  Christian Aganze, Mike Lopez, Rosalinda Lopez, Caleb Choban, and Kieran Berton each presented their summer’s work in the Astrophysics session, moderated by PI Adam Burgasser. Morehouse-UCSD Physics Bridge Fellows Jeremy Ariche and Saidou Ngaide also presented in this session. Melisa Tallis and Morehouse Fellow Julian Pilate-Hutcherson, who worked in the Shpyrko Lab this summer, presented in the parallel Physics & Engineering session; Jarrhett Butler, another Morehouse Fellow, presented in the Biophysics session.  This was the first time Astrophysics had its own session at the SURC, and the room was filled with astronomy fans and proud mentors.

Congratulations to everyone on a successful summer of research!

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Congratulations to Melisa Tallis, Recipient of the Dynes Summer Research Scholarship


Melisa Tallis, a second-year undergraduate student working on identifying young brown dwarfs in the SpeX Prism Library, has been awarded the Summer URS Robert C. Dynes and Ann Parode Dynes Physics Research Scholarship for 2014.  Named after former UCSD faculty member and UC President Robert Dynes, this competitive scholarship supports a Physics major for summer research at UCSD.  Melisa is also currently participating in the Faculty Mentor Program. Congratulations on the award Melisa!

Carl Melis

Carl Melis is a research scientist affiliated with the Cool Star Lab.  Here’s his story as told by Christine Nicholls:

A California native, Carl Melis completed his undergraduate study at UCSD and his PhD in Astronomy at UCLA. After holding NSF and CASS postdoctoral fellowships at UCSD, Carl became an independent research scientist in 2013.  Carl’s research covers the birth, life, death, and re-birth of planetary systems. Carl is particularly interested in terrestrial planet systems, and studies these via their dusty disks around both young and old stars. His observational work covers a broad wavelength range from infrared to radio.

Carl is passionate about public science literacy and astronomy education, and is keenly involved in both. In his spare time, he loves hiking, and is a founding member of the California Peaks Club. He is also known for his terrible skills at finding cheap flights

Daniella Bardalez Gagliuffi


Daniella Bardalez Gagliuffi is a graduate student in the Cool Star Lab.  Here’s her bio as told by Melisa Tallis:

Daniella graduated from MIT with a BS in physics in 2011. She will complete her PhD from UCSD in 2016. Daniella’s research focuses on identifying systems of two or more low mass stars by using spectral data. Her work also involves classifying these low mass stars and building spectral models for them as well. Daniella has presented her research at various conferences around the world. Currently she is involved with the CASS Journal Club, and her hobbies include listening to music, cooking, and surfing. As an active advocate of outreach programs, Daniella now aspires to promote science and scientific development in her home country of Peru.