The Climates of Other Worlds: Searching for the Next Habitable Planet

Event Date: 
May 15, 2019
Aomawa Shields

The discovery of numerous relatively close planets orbiting low-mass stars signals a major planetary population that may be the primary environment explored in the search for life beyond the Solar System. Many factors can affect planetary climate and habitability, and their effects must be understood to accurately determine a planet’s habitability potential. While three dimensional global climate models have long been used to predict climate and weather patterns on the Earth, a growing community of researchers has begun to apply these models to extrasolar planets.

Speaker Bio: 
Dr. Aomawa Shields is the Clare Boothe Luce Assistant Professor of Physics & Astronomy at UCI. Her research focuses on exploring the possible climates and potential habitability of Earth-sized planets orbiting cool, low-mass stars. She has a Ph.D. in Astronomy and Astrobiology from the University of Washington, an MFA in Acting from UCLA, and an Sc.B. in Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences from MIT. She held an NSF Astronomy and Astrophysics Postdoctoral Fellowship and a UC President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship at UCLA and at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics prior to joining UCI. Her research is supported by the NASA Habitable Worlds program and she was recently awarded the prestigious NSF CAREER award to pursue an innovative program of research and education at UCI. Dr. Shields’s TED Talk “How We’ll Find Life on Other Planets” has garnered over 1.5 million views, and she is Founder and Director of the organization Rising Stargirls, which encourages girls of all colors and backgrounds to explore and discover the universe using theater, writing, and visual art.