Ph.D. Candidate in Astronomy at University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Research on Planet Interiors and Dynamics
The densities of observed terrestrial planets allow for a range of interior compositions from Mercury-like to volatile-rich. For my dissertation, I test model parameters and quantify systematic uncertainties in inferences of the composition of the Trappist-1 planets. I presented my initial findings at the Exoplanets IV and Rocky Worlds II conferences and a paper is planned for Fall 2022. In addition, I collaborate with high-pressure physicists to test new measurements of planet-building materials: ADS. I'm also open for collaboration with observational groups to characterize their planets. I characterize K2-138's planets in the work below.
The community uses a variety of models to characterize the interior structure of small planets. Chenliang Huang, Jason Steffen, and I developed MAGRATHEA to be a community standard 1D planet structure code. MAGRATHEA is open-source and can be customized to user-defined planet models. Our code features adaptable phase diagrams for the core, mantle, hydrosphere, and atmosphere and transparent formatting for equations of state. MAGRATHEA's utility is detailed in our publication (ADS) and is archived on NASA's Exoplanet Modeling and Analysis Center.
Closely packed planetary systems will experience orbital crossings at a time related to the orbital separations of the planets. After a crossing, the system enters a period of chaotic evolution ending in planetary collisions or ejections. These collisions are essential to the formation of stable systems. I study stability timescales through n-body simulations on Cherry-Creek, UNLV's supercomputer cluster. My first published work, ADS, finds that inclined systems may avoid a planet collision for long periods of time. My second work, ADS, explores the heteroscedasticity of stability time in non-equal mass systems.
I research with Prof. Jason H. Steffen. Among other projects, one goal of our group is to track chemical composition of planets from condensation in the protoplanetary disk to engulfment by a white dwarf. We are a part of the Star & Planet Formation group and the Nevada Center for Astrophysics.
PDF Link Last updated: 15th Jan. 23
Applying for postdoctoral positions and fellowships
Masters in Astronomy.
PhD expected June 2023
B.A. in Integrated Science, Physics and Astronomy, and Earth and Planetary Science
UNLV Fellowship for '22-23 academic year
I mentor two undergraduates, Tristan Benally and Rosalie Chaleunsouk, in research and received a Mentorship Certificate.
I am the founder and current emcee of AoT, LV. We present astronomy to our Las Vegas community through engaging and accessible events. We hold 3-4 events a year at Astronomy Aleworks. I maintain an active community on our Facebook.
I love sharing science with others and have given talks through Skype a Scientist and the Las Vegas Astronomical Society. You can watch me discuss Pluto with the CSN Planetarium here.
At UNLV, I taught mechanics, E&M, and modern physics undergraduate labs. In Chicago, I spent a year with SAGA Education providing high-dosage math tutoring to at-risk high school students. Read about the success of the program here.
I tutor all-ages in physics, math, and astronomy. You can hire me for tutoring on Wyzant.
Although I love Chicago, Evanston, and Las Vegas, home still means Iowa for me. I grew up in a small suburb of the suburbs of Des Moines.
I enjoy getting out of the city with my wife to explore the outdoors through camping, hiking, and–of course–stargazing.
–david.rice [αt] unlv [dot] edu–
–drice986 [αt] gmail [dot] com–