Jeffrey Coughlin
Jeffrey Coughlin

Director of the K2 Science Office

Disciplines: Astrophysics

Degree/Major: Ph.D., Astronomy, 2012, New Mexico State University

Curriculum vitae: Coughlin_CV_0.pdf

Dr. Jeffrey Coughlin is the Director of the K2 Science Office for NASA's K2 Mission. He leads the team responsible for ensuring that the highest quality data is obtained by the K2 Mission and delivered to K2's customers in the Astronomical community.

Previous to this, Jeff was a a SETI Support Scientist for for the Kepler Science Office. His work focused on vetting potential planet candidates found by the mission by utilizing both humans and robotic algorithms. He also supported 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.

Major Awards

NASA's Exceptional Engineering Achievement Medal (2016)

For leadership and innovation in the construction of the first uniform catalog of Kepler planetary candidates

NSF Graduate Research Fellowship (2009-2012)


Jeff's Publications on NASA ADS

Technical Publications

"Planetary Candidates Observed by Kepler. VII. The First Fully Uniform Catalog Based on the Entire 48-month Data Set (Q1-Q17 DR24)"
Coughlin, J.L., Mullally, F., Thompson, S.E., et al. 2016, ApJS, 224, 12

"A Population of planetary systems characterized by short-period, Earth-sized planets"
Steffen, J.H., & Coughlin, J.L. 2016, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, 113, 12023

"Contamination in the Kepler Field. Identification of 685 KOIs as False Positives via Ephemeris Matching Based on Q1-Q12 Data"
Coughlin, J. L., Thompson, S. E., Bryson, S. T., et al., 2014, The Astronomical Journal, 147, 119

"An Earth-Sized Planet in the Habitable Zone of a Cool Star"
Quintana, E. V., Barclay, T., Raymond, S. N., et al., 2014, Science, 344, 277

"Detection of Potential Transit Signals in 16 Quarters of Kepler Mission Data"
Tenenbaum, P., Jenkins, J. M., Seader, S., et al., 2014, The Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series, 211, 6

"Planetary Candidates Observed by Kepler IV: Planet Sample from Q1-Q8 (22 Months)"
Burke, C. J., Bryson, S. T., Mullally, F., et al., 2014, The Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series, 210, 19

"A Super-Earth-sized Planet Orbiting in or Near the Habitable Zone around a Sun-like Star"
Barclay, T., Burke, C. J., Howell, S. B., et al., 2013, The Astrophysical Journal, 768, 101

"Modeling Multi-wavelength Stellar Astrometry. III. Determination of the Absolute Masses of Exoplanets and Their Host Stars"
Coughlin, J. L., Lopez-Morales, M., 2012, The Astrophysical Journal, 750, 100

"A Uniform Search for Secondary Eclipses of Hot Jupiters in Kepler Q2 Light Curves"
Coughlin, J. L., Lopez-Morales, M., 2012, The Astronomical
Journal, 143, 39

"Kepler Cycle 1 Observations of Low-mass Stars: New Eclipsing Binaries, Single Star Rotation Rates, and the Nature and Frequency of Starspots"
Harrison, T. E., Coughlin, J. L., Ule, N. M., et al., 2012, The Astronomical Journal, 143, 4

"Fundamental parameters of exoplanets and their host stars"
Coughlin, J. L., 2012, Ph.D. Thesis,

"Low-mass Eclipsing Binaries in the Initial Kepler Data Release"
Coughlin, J. L., Lopez-Morales, M., Harrison, T. E., et al., 2011, The Astronomical Journal, 141, 78

"Modeling Multi-wavelength Stellar Astrometry. II. Determining Absolute Inclinations, Gravity-darkening Coefficients, and Spot Parameters of Single Stars with SIM Lite"
Coughlin, J. L., Harrison, T. E., Gelino, D. M., 2010, The Astrophysical Journal, 723, 1351

"Modeling Multi-wavelength Stellar Astrometry. I. SIM Lite Observations of Interacting Binaries"
Coughlin, J. L., Gelino, D. M., Harrison, T. E., et al., 2010, The Astrophysical Journal, 717, 776

"Day-side z'-band Emission and Eccentricity of WASP-12b"
Lopez-Morales, M., Coughlin, J. L., Sing, D. K., et al., 2010, The Astrophysical Journal, 716, L36

"Orbital Solutions and Absolute Elements of the Eclipsing Binary MY Cygni"
Tucker, R. S., Sowell, J. R., Williamon, R. M., et al., 2009, The Astronomical Journal, 137, 2949

"New Observations and a Possible Detection of Parameter Variations in the Transits of Gliese 436b"
Coughlin, J. L., Stringfellow, G. S., Becker, A. C., et al., 2008, The Astrophysical Journal, 689, L149

"Long-Term Photometric Analysis of the Active W UMa-Type System TU Bootis"
Coughlin, J. L., Dale, H. A., III, Williamon, R. M., 2008, The Astronomical Journal, 136, 1089

"New Beta Lyrae and Algol Candidates from the Northern Sky Variability Survey"
Hoffman, D. I., Harrison, T. E., Coughlin, J. L., et al., 2008, The Astronomical Journal, 136, 1067

"Seven New Low-Mass Eclipsing Binaries"
Coughlin, J. L., Shaw, J. S., 2007, Journal of the Southeastern Association for Research in Astronomy, 1, 7

Technical Description of Work

K2 is the second phase of NASA's Kepler Mission, collecting high-precision photometric measurements for a large number of targets in a new field of view every ~90 days. K2 continues to make incredible discoveries and advance many sub-fields of Astronomy, including exoplanets, supernovae, asteroids, solar system minor and major planets, and stellar and galactic astrophysics.

Jeff leads the team that ensures the highest quality data is obtained by K2, processed by the K2 team, and delivered to NASA archives for use by K2's customers in the Astronomical community. Jeff ensures this work happens in a timely and efficient manner, and facilitates communication between all involved parties, including spacecraft engineers, programmers, operators, astronomers, archivists, senior management, and customers.


NASA's Kepler Mission was a space-based telescope that monitors over 150,000 stars to find Earth-like and other planets. The team worked 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 published the results both in scientific journals as well as wrote easily-accessible documentation for the publicly-released data.

Jeff's role was 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 helped prioritize the team's research to meet mission deadlines and communicate our progress to senior level management. He also help maintained the team's planetary database and worked to increase the team's operational efficiency via the implementation of automated decision and data collection methods.