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Natalie H. Allen

Bio

Born on an island in the Pacific Northwest, I spent my childhood in the outdoors, playing sports and surrounded by friends and family (and dogs!). I have been interested in space as long as I can remember, heavily bolstered by regular visits to Hawaii to visit family during which I could see the faraway observatories on the peak of Mauna Kea. So, when I went to college, it was easy to decide what to study. 

I completed my undergraduate at the University of Rochester in beautiful upstate New York, in an incredibly supportive Physics and Astronomy department. While there, I was very involved in our chapter of the Society of Physics Students, and also co-founded our Society of Women in Astronomy and Physics. I started research with Prof. Dan Watson as soon as I was able, focused on studying outflows from young stellar objects and how they affected the star formation process. But when I was a junior, I interned at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (fulfilling a childhood dream of working for NASA) with Dr. Karl Stapelfeldt and was introduced to the world of exoplanets. I knew immediately that this was what I wanted to study moving forward. One of my favorite parts about exoplanet research was the wide variety of interdisciplinary studies that were needed, which encouraged me to move out of my comfort zone and begin working with Prof. Miki Nakajima on a planetary science focused project - the formation of terrestrial impact craters, namely Earth's largest, the Vredefort crater. 

After deciding to apply to graduate school, I chose to do my PhD studies at Johns Hopkins University (JHU). In addition to the exciting opportunities in the department itself, the school is connected to Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), which was going to soon become the home of JWST. My interest had focused some, from exoplanets in general to more specifically observations of exoplanets and their atmospheres. JHU and STScI were perfect for this goal, as they were the institutions of two leaders on the subject - Prof. David Sing and Dr. Néstor Espinoza. I currently work with the both of them on observing exoplanetary atmospheres using transmission spectroscopy. As we enter the golden age of the study of exoplanet atmospheres with JWST, I'm incredibly excited to find all there is to discover!

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Education

Johns Hopkins University                              Expected Graduation: 2026

  • Ph.D. in Astronomy

University of Rochester                                          Graduation: May 2020

  • B.S. in Physics and Astronomy, Minor in Mathematics

    • Cum Laude with Highest Distinction​

  • Senior Thesis: A Study of the Emission Line Structure of HH 7-11 with Hubble and Spitzer​

First Author Publications
 

Awards

National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship      2020-25

Stoddard Senior Thesis Prize                                                                           2020​

Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship                                                                   2019-20

USRA Distinguished Undergraduate Award                                               2019

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