NSF Graduate Research Fellowship: 2009-2012
Dr. Jeffrey Coughlin is a SETI Institute consultant working for NASA's Kepler Mission as part of the Kepler Science Office. His work focuses on vetting potential planet candidates found by the mission by utilizing both humans and robotic algorithms. He also supports public access to the Kepler Mission data via on-line documentation and data management.
Jeff has been interested in and working on exoplanets and eclipsing binaries for over ten years. He became interested in the Kepler project several years before launch when applying to graduate school. His Ph.D. work was predominantly with Kepler observations, and he was thrilled to be able to work as part of the team after graduation.
NASA's Kepler Mission is a space-based telescope that monitors over 150,000 stars to find Earth-like and other planets. The team works together to comb this very large data set for planetary signals, statistically validate them, and obtain robust estimates of the physical parameters of each planet. They publish the results both in scientific journals as well as write easily-accessible documentation for the publicly-released data.
Jeff's role is to develop new algorithms and software products to support operational decision making in the classification of planetary signals, and work with software engineers to implement them. As part of the science team, he helps prioritize the team's research to meet mission deadlines and communicate our progress to senior level management. He also help maintains the team's planetary database and works to increase the team's operational efficiency via the implementation of automated decision and data collection methods.