The Oddity of Finding Another Earth
Dr. Natalie Hinkel is planetary astrophysicist at the Southwest Research Institute. She studies the composition of nearby stars and the ways in which that may affect the make-up of orbiting planets. She analyzes real exo-planets like the TRAPPIST-1 system, exotic systems where planets orbit two stars (think Tatooine!), fake exoplanets (that likely exist but haven’t been detected), machine learning algorithms (like Netflix but for space!), and what life would be like on an exo-moon (which has yet to be discovered!). She has assembled the largest catalog of element abundances measured in stars near to the Sun, called the Hypatia Catalog (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lbYYcZtRiXE), which contains seventy-two elements in ~6200 stars.
Natalie earned her Bachelor’s degree in physics and math at Oberlin College, a small liberal arts school, where she rounded out her education by including dance, theater, and romantic literature. Her Ph.D. is in Astrophysics from the School of Earth and Space Exploration, which combines the fields of geology, planetary science, and astronomy, at Arizona State University. Natalie is a recent transplant to San Antonio by way of Nashville, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Phoenix. She enjoys rock climbing, hiking, and drawing.
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