The first 18 years of my life were spent in the city of my birth - Ottumwa, Iowa. It was during this stage of my life that I discovered two of my passions: astronomy and music. After successfully auditioning for the Iowa All-State Band trumpet section my senior year, I graduated valedictorian of the Ottumwa High School Class of 2003 and began my undergraduate studies in the Fall of 2003 at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, IA.
While at the University of Iowa, I got to visit the VLA near Socorro, NM and spent three years as an undergraduate research assistant with Professor Cornelia Lang, working on projects in the field of radio astronomy. I was also a member of the Hawkeye Marching Band Trumpet Section and joined the ranks of the Undergraduate Staff during my junior year.
During the summer of 2005, I was a summer student with Dr. Harry Ferguson at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, MD. While living in Baltimore I discovered another life passion: living in big cities with skyscrapers. The following summer, I was an NSF REU student in astrobiology with Dr. Gerry Harp at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, CA. In addition to falling in love with the San Francisco Bay Area, I met one of my idols, Dr. Jill Tarter, and confirmed that my research interests lie in the field of astrobiology - the study of the origin, evolution, distribution, and future of life in the universe.
I graduated from the University of Iowa in May 2007 with a B.S. in Physics and Astronomy (with honors) and a B.A. in Music (with emphasis in trumpet performance). In the Fall of 2007, I returned to the Bay Area and enrolled as a graduate student in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at San Francisco State University in San Francisco, CA. In addition to being an instructor for the introductory astronomy lab classes during my first three semesters, I was an ARCS Scholar and spent two years as a graduate research assistant with Professor Debra Fischer, working on projects in the field of extrasolar planets.
As a graduate student, I spent several nights atop Mount Hamilton, obtaining precise stellar radial velocities with the Hamilton Spectrograph on the Shane 3-m and CAT telescopes at Lick Observatory. I also got to visit the Keck Observatory headquarters in Hawaii after helping launch a new search for potentially habitable, earth-mass planets with the HIRES Spectrograph on the Keck 10-m telescope. Briefly escaping the infamous San Francisco summer fog, I headed to SoCal and spent the summer of 2009 as a scientific research assistant with Dr. John Stauffer at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, CA.
For personal reasons, I stopped out of my graduate program in the midst of my fifth semester at San Francisco State University. Subsequently, I spent a little over a year as a full-time research assistant with Professor Debra Fischer, during which I was project manager for the Lick Observatory Planet Search. Since February 2011, I have been acquiring, reducing, and analyzing observations of supernovae and stars with exoplanets as a a full-time research assistant with Professors Alex Filippenko and Geoff Marcy in the Department of Astronomy at the University of California, Berkeley in Berkeley, CA.