Theoretical astrophysics, with an emphasis on understanding the origin of planetary systems. Protoplanetary disks; extrasolar planets; debris disks, including the Kuiper belt; and planetesimal and planet formation.
Eugene Chiang received his undergraduate degree in physics from MIT in 1995, and his PhD in astronomy from Caltech in 2000. He teaches a variety of classes in the Astronomy Department, ranging from introductory astrophysics for undergraduate majors, to fluid mechanics and radiative processes for graduate students, to graduate seminars on galactic and planetary dynamics. The most challenging and most rewarding class he teaches is order-of-magnitude physics, in which the class tries to estimate any quantity under the sun to within a factor of 10.
NExSS is a cross-divisional initiative from NASA to create a research coordination network (RCN) with an emphasis on studying extrasolar planets and the potential for habitability. An RCN is a virtual structure to support groups of investigators to communication and coordinate research and educational activity. At Berkeley our contributions are the observations of extrasolar planets via direct imaging, the transit technique, and Doppler spectroscopy, plus the theoretical study of planet formation and subsequent evolution.
The Gemini Planet Imager (GPI) is a new science instrument that exploits the latest generation of adaptive optics technology, coronagraphy and detectors. We have successfully commissioned GPI at the Gemini South telescope in Chile and in 2014 we started a three year science program called GPIES (GPI Exoplanet Survey) that will survey 600 stars for the presence of young giant planets.