Ivanna Escala

IMG_8362Ivanna Escala is originally from the “boonies of New Jersey”, but is now enjoying the good life in Southern California. She joined the Cool Star Lab in the summer of 2014 as a volunteer research student, and quickly demonstrated her programming acumen by developing one of the primary functions in the SPLAT code. She used the SpeX Prism Library to determine the physical properties of a set of unusually magnetically active brown dwarfs, improving on the index method developed by Adam Burgasser in 2006; this work was recently submitted to the Astrophysical Journal. She has also participated in several physics outreach events at UCSD, including the Space Day and Play Day Galaxy Gardens at Balboa Park and the San Diego Science & Engineering Festival. In her free time, she enjoys vegan cooking and baking, reading, and spending time in the nature. Ivanna is now a graduate student in the Astronomy Department at Caltech.

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.

Dianna Cowern


Dianna Cowern is a popular science communicator who has previously served as the outreach coordinator for the Cool Star Lab and the UCSD Physics Department. Born and raised in Hawaii, Dianna earned Bachelor’s degrees in Physics and Computer Science from MIT, and conducted research in dark matter with Prof. Jocelyn Monroe and low-metallicity stars with Prof. Anna Frebel. She interned at General Electric as a Software Engineer designing mobile apps, before diving into to science outreach as an coordinator at UCSD. She is an award-winning science communicator, winning the 2014 Flame Challenge and the inaugural La Jolla Community Foundation award for Beach Physics. She has been featured locally for her outreach work, but is most famous for her extremely popular YouTube channel Physics Girl.