Senate Faculty


Courtney Dressing

Ph.D and A.M. in Astronomy & Astrophysics from Harvard University (Ph.D. in 2015, A.M. in 2012)

A.B. in Astrophysical Sciences from Princeton University, 2010.
-Assistant Professor of Astronomy; Pronouns: she/her/hers

605E Campbell Hall


View Courtney’s CV

Research Interests

  • Searching for small, potentially habitable exoplanets orbiting nearby stars
  • Characterizing planet host stars to improve stellar and planetary parameters Investigating the dependence of planet occurrence on stellar and planetary properties
  • Constraining the frequency of planetary systems orbiting low-mass stars
  • Testing models of planet formation by exploring the compositional diversity of small planets


I’m an observational astronomer focused on detecting and characterizing planetary systems orbiting nearby stars. I use telescopes on the ground and in space to search for planets, probe their atmospheres, measure their masses, and constrain their bulk compositions. I am curious about how planets form and evolve with time, the frequency of planetary systems in the Galaxy, and the prospects for detecting life on planets outside of our Solar System.

Planet properties are typically determined relative to the properties of their host stars. Accordingly, my research program also includes using ground-based telescopes to estimate the sizes, masses, and temperatures of stars that harbor planetary systems. I am particularly interested in Red Dwarfs – stars that are significantly smaller than the Sun – because planets orbiting these stars are more detectable than planets orbiting larger stars like the Sun. Moreover, 75% of stars in the Galaxy are Red Dwarfs and recent surveys have revealed that Red Dwarfs frequently host potentially habitable planets like the small worlds of the TRAPPIST-1 system.