Aomawa Shields

PhD Candidate, NSF Graduate Research Fellow, University of Washington

Aomawa at APO                                 Planet comparisons

Shields et al., 2013, Astrobiology, 13, 8

Planet M dwarf A Warmer Planetary Haven Around Cool Stars (UW news release, July 18, 2013)

Compare modern-day climates on a planet orbiting an M star vs. the Sun (a G star)

Compare snowball climates on a planet orbiting an M star vs. the Sun

Create your own planetary climate (YOU set the initial conditions (host star is the Sun)!)

About Me

I am currently a 5th-year graduate student in the Department of Astronomy and the Astrobiology Program at the University of Washington. I work with Victoria Meadows and Cecilia Bitz, and am a member of The Virtual Planetary Laboratory Team. My research focuses on the effects of stellar and planetary influences on planetary ice coverage. I am fascinated by the Snowball Earth episodes of ~600 and ~800 million years ago, where our planet is believed to have been covered in ice from Pole to Pole. My research goal is to determine the likelihood of similar extremes of climate on planets orbiting stars other than our Sun, which we call extrasolar planets.

My research is supported by the National Science Foundation through the Graduate Research Fellowship Program. I am also supported by the NASA Astrobiology Institute, and receive professional mentorship and support from the MS PHD'S program.

I am heavily involved in outreach, particularly to audiences traditionally underrepresented in the sciences. I am part of the AAS Astronomy Ambassadors Program, and am the academic mentor for students in the Pre-Major in Astronomy Program for undergraduates at the University of Washington. I'm a member of the Social Action for a Grassroots Astrobiology Network (S.A.G.A.N.). I also present planetarium shows to the public in our new digital UW planetarium.

In addition to being an astronomer and an astrobiologist, I'm also a classically-trained actor and violinist, and work to develop innovative ways to communicate science to the public using theater.

For more information, please see my CV, list of publications, press/media highlights, list of graduate student resources, and additional photos.

Here are also some additional links that may be of interest.

Mail: Box 351580, UW, Seattle, WA 98195-1580;    Email: aomawa (at);    Fax: 206-685-0403