Alessandra Ricca

Alessandra Ricca
Computational Chemist
Curriculum Vitae: 

Alessandra Ricca is a computational chemist who is interested in the formation of complex organic molecules, such as nitrogenated aromatic heterocycles, in various environments, ranging from outflows of carbon-rich stars to Titan’s haze and the early Earth. Heterocycles containing nitrogen atoms, such as pyrroles and pyrimidines, are among the building blocks of life. Understanding how they are formed is of fundamental importance to astrobiology.

Alessandra is also involved in the computation of the spectral properties of carbonaceous molecular species to help interpret data obtained by various NASA missions, such as the Spitzer Space Telescope and the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA).

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Using Aromatic Compounds and Related Molecular Species as a Tracer of Carbon in the Universe and Life in the Solar System

This work involves building a database of the spectra of aromatic compounds, for use in interpreting astronomical observations and in developing instrumentation for planetary landers and probes. We are pursuing collaborations in this area with other scientists at NASA, universities, and non-profits.

PAH Spectroscopy for Everyone

The goal of this project is to develop a publicly accessible web-based interface to our database of spectroscopic information, and to provide the tools needed to download, inspect, analyze and interpret the data.

From Large PAHs to Very Small Grains: The Mid-IR Spectrum of the Interstellar Medium

A comprehensive study of the spectral characteristics of carbonaceous species with the goal of understanding the effects of size, molecular structure, clustering, and charge on the spectra, and allowing us to more accurately interpret the emission characteristics of the interstellar medium.