Johanna Teske became the first new staff member to join Carnegie’s newly named Earth and Planets Laboratory (EPL) in Washington, D.C., on September 1, 2020. She has been a NASA Hubble Fellow at the Carnegie Observatories in Pasadena, CA, since 2018. From 2014 to 2017 she was the Carnegie Origins Postdoctoral Fellow—a joint position between Carnegie’s Department of Terrestrial Magnetism (now part of EPL) and the Carnegie Observatories.

    Teske is interested in the diversity in exoplanet compositions and the origins of that diversity. She uses observations to estimate exoplanet interior and atmospheric compositions and the chemical environments of their formation via their host star compositions. She plans to join and start interdisciplinary collaborations at EPL in these areas with other staff members.

    As a Carnegie postdoc, Teske joined the Planet Finder Spectrograph (PFS) team, which uses PFS on the Magellan Clay telescope to find and characterize exoplanets. PFS data capture variations in a star’s orbit (a “wobble”) caused by the gravitational tug that a planet has on the star. With collaborators, Teske started a survey of small transiting planets detected by the space-based TESS satellite, which finds dips in stellar brightness as the planet moves in front of a star. She aims to measure the planets’ masses to help unravel their compositions and formation histories.

    Teske enjoys learning about and using different astronomical instruments, including high-resolution optical and near-infrared spectrographs and imagers. She hopes to work on future instrumentation for the Magellan and Giant Magellan telescopes.

    Teske has received numerous honors and awards, including a NASA Exoplanets Research Program grant, two Carnegie Science Venture grants, a Carnegie Postdoctoral Innovation and Excellence Award, a NASA Keck PI Data Award, and the University of Arizona Astronomy Department Outstanding Service Award, among others. She received a B.S. in physics from the American University in Washington, DC, with Carnegie’s Alycia Weinberger serving as an advisor and a Ph.D. from the University of Arizona in astronomy.

    In addition to her research, Teske is heavily involved in outreach, mentorship, and creating more inclusive environments in astronomy.



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