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Affiliated Postdocs

Melinda Soares-Furtado:
Melinda is a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is investigating anomalous stellar signatures that arise from the accretion/engulfment of substellar companions. Such signatures include chemical enrichment and rotational enhancement. One of her major objectives is to detect a star that has engulfed a planetary companion. Such a star could provide valuable constraints on the bulk composition of the companion, which would have far-reaching implications in the theory of planet formation. Melinda also applies image subtraction reduction techniques to photometric surveys (Kepler/K2) in an effort to search for periodic variability in open clusters. This includes the search for transiting exoplanets in these systems. When she is not glued to her terminal, you may find her hunting for vintage astronomy textbooks, making time-lapse videos of the birds in her garden, or competing in a Beat Saber battle with her children (she always loses).

Graduate Students

Bob Aloisi:
I am returning to UW - Madison to earn an Astronomy PhD after initially earning a BS Chemical Engineering degree many years ago. I am working with Professor Vanderburg on Exoplanet research, initially searching for hot Jupiter planets orbiting white dwarf stars. I recently earned a second major in Physics at UW – Milwaukee, where my research projects included: building payloads to launch on NASA sounding rockets; finding timing solutions to constrain the properties of several pulsars; updating the Census of the Local Universe (CLU) galaxy catalog, which is referenced when gravitational waves are observed; and traveling to the University of Sydney, where I searched for radio bright supernovae using the first survey images from a new radio telescope array called the Australian SKA Pathfinder. I enjoy stargazing, campfires, fishing and other outdoor activities.

Undergraduate Students

Zoe de Beurs:
Zoe is a senior physics, math and astronomy student at the University of Texas (UT) at Austin. She has worked with Professor Vanderburg since September 2018 and her research focuses on combining AI with high-precision exoplanet detection. Throughout her time at UT Austin, she has done research internships at the University of Chicago and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. In her work as part of the Vanderburgers lab, she uses AI to significantly enhance the sensitivity of the radial velocity method of exoplanet detection, with the ultimate goal of discovering habitable zone earth-mass exoplanets. When Zoe is not doing astronomy, she can be found drinking copious amounts of coffee, reading books by her favorite author Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche, or advocating for making science more accessible through outreach and directing initiatives to promote equity and inclusion.
Elyse Incha:
Elyse is a sophomore at UW-Madison studying Astronomy-Physics with an astrobiology focus. She is interested in studying many astrobiology topics, but currently is working with Professor Vanderburg on exoplanet detection and analysis. Outside of work, she volunteers with A Moment of Magic, plays guitar, and loves to paint.
Ben Havlicek:
I am a Junior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison studying astrophysics and science communication. I don't have any real research interests (yet) but, broadly, I find the intersection of data science, statistics, and astronomy interesting. Outside of school I am an avid tennis and soccer fan and like to cook, read, and go on bike rides around Madison.

High School Students

Sam Christian:
Sam Christian is a senior at the Liberal Arts and Science Academy (LASA) High School in Austin Texas. He has done research in areas of cosmology, exoplanets, and geophysics, but enjoys learning about nearly all areas of physical science. He has been studying exoplanets in wide binary systems with Dr. Vanderburg since June of 2020. Outside of the sciences, he plays the cello and piano, and enjoys reading Ursula Le Guin novels.