Research Team

Professor Seager’s research focuses on the search for other Earths, via space mission concepts and observations, modeling, and/or interpretation of exoplanet atmospheres, interiors, and biosignatures.

Graduate Students

Mary KnappMary Knapp

Graduate student
Dept. of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences

Mary Knapp is working on radio detection of exoplanet magnetic fields and next generation instrumentation for space-based detection.

Akshata KrishnamurthyAkshata Krishnamurthy

Graduate student
Dept. of Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering

Akshata Krishnamurthy is a third year PhD student in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT. She is working on the design and fabrication of precision instrumentation to characterize CCD detectors as well as developing a comprehensive instrument noise model for the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) mission.


Gabriella Serrato MarksGabriella Serrato Marks

Graduate student
Dept. of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences


Liang YuLiang Yu

Graduate student
Dept. of Physics

Liang Yu is developing machine learning-based tools to automatically identify exoplanet candidates and other interesting astrophysical phenomena in TESS data. She is also working on improving the TESS simulated data.


Zhuchang Zhan Zhuchang Zhan

Graduate student
Dept. of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences

Zhuchang Zhan is working on simulating exoplanet atmospheres with the goals of evaluating a broad range of potential biosignature gases.

Postdoctoral Fellows

Dr. Jennifer BurtDr Jennifer Burt

Torres Postdoctoral Fellow
Kavli Institute for Space Sciences

Jennifer Burt’s research focuses on detecting and characterizing extra solar planets using precision radial velocity observations. She was also the lead in developing the Automated Planet Finder telescope’s fully autonomous observing mode, and continues to work towards improving its nightly operations.


Dr. Diana DragomirDr Diana Dragomir

Hubble Fellow
MIT Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research

Dr. Dragomir’s Website
Diana Dragomir finds and studies the atmospheres of super-Earth exoplanets transiting bright stars. Her long-term goal is to understand the composition and formation of super-Earths, and how these correlate with the planets’ orbital parameters and the properties of the host stars.


Dr. Elisabeth NewtonDr Elizabeth Newton

NSF Fellow
Kavli Institute for Space Sciences

Dr. Newton’s Website
Dr. Elisabeth Newton is interested in red dwarf stars and the planets that orbit them. She uses observations to study rotation and magnetism in red dwarfs and the impact stellar activity has on their exoplanets.


Dr. Mihkel PajusaluDr Mikel Pajusalu

Postdoctoral Associate
Dept. of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences

Mihkel Pajusalu is exploring methods for low-cost asteroid characterization using nanosatellites and technologies for in-situ resource utilization. He also works on laboratory experiments and instrumentation development for a better understanding of biosignature gas evolution on exoplanets and early Earth.


Dr. Janusz PetkowskiDr Janus Petkowski

Postdoctoral Associate
Dept. of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences

Dr. Petkowski’s Website
Janusz Petkowski works on novel approaches to biosignature gases reasearch. He is also interested in origin and biochemical limits of life on Earth and on exoplanets.


Dr. Clara Sousa SilvaDr Clara Sousa Silva

Postdoctoral Associate
Dept. of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences

Clara Sousa-Silva works on molecular lines lists from quantum mechanics-based computation.


Julien de WitJulien de Wit

Postdoctoral Associate
Dept. of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences

Dr. de Wit’s Website
Julien de Wit works in the field of data science where math, science, and engineering are brought together. Over the past six years, he has developed and applied new techniques to study exoplanets, their atmospheres and their interactions with their stars. Currently his focus is on applying these techniques to study temperate Earth-sized exoplanets, the TRAPPIST-1 planets.

Past Graduate Students

Dr. Bjoern Benneke

PhD MIT Aero/Astro 2013
Faculty at U. de Montreal –

Dr. Renyu Hu

Research Scientist at JPL –

Dr. Nikku Madhusudhan

PhD MIT Physics 2012
Lecturer at Cambridge University, UK –

Dr. Leslie Rogers

PhD MIT Aero/Astro 2012
Faculty at University of Chicago –

Co-Advised Past Graduate Students

Dr. Matthew Smith

PhD MIT Aero/Astro 2014
Engineer at JPL

Dr. Eliza Kempton (formerly Miller-Ricci)

PhD Harvard Astronomy 2009
Faculty at Grinnell College –

Past Master’s students

Dr. Thomas Beatty

MIT Masters in Physics 2009

Postdoctoral Fellow at Penn State

Past Postdoctoral Fellows

Prof. Brice Demory

University of Bern –

Research highlights from time at MIT:

Dr. Vlada Stamenkovic

Simons Fellow, JPL/Caltech
Research Highlights from time at MIT