I grew up just outside of Los Angeles in a small desert town near Palmdale, in the Mojave Desert. In winter of 2008 I completed my B.S. in Astrophysics with a minor in Math at UCLA. During the last few months of my undergraduate career I began working as a lab assistant in the Department of Earth and Space Sciences at UCLA with the Chris Russell group. I assisted in the cleaning and processing of data from NASA’s POLAR mission. When I finished my bachelor’s degree I was offered the position of system administrator for the Russell group. In 2012, I started my Ph.D. program with Chris Russell while continuing to work as his system admin. In 2018, we were awarded a grant under NASA’s Solar System Workings program, which allowed me to retire from my IT position and pursue my Ph.D. full-time.
My main area of research is the investigation of lightning on Venus, a decades long topic of interest that I inherited from my advisor. Using magnetic field data from the European Space Agency’s Venus Express mission, I search for whistler-mode waves in the ionosphere of Venus. A whistler is a particular type of radio frequency wave that results from lightning strikes in the atmosphere below. They are so-named because the higher frequencies travel faster and arrive before the lower frequencies. This results in a whistling sound, which was reported to be heard though telephone in the late 19th century. We have observed thousands of whistlers at Venus from which we can infer lightning in the atmosphere. Unfortunately, Venus Express has no visual observations of lightning, but its occurrence is undeniable with the observed whistler-mode waves cannot be explained by any other source.