Researcher

Dr Ben Montet

My Expertise

I study nearby stars and their planetary systems. We know of thousands of exoplanets in the Milky Way, largely discovered with data from the NASA Kepler mission. I use that facility, the NASA TESS mission, and ground-based spectrographs in Australia, the USA, and Chile to find and characterise newly-discovered planets. I also work to understand the stellar activity of the planet host stars and how that might affect habitability. I'm also interested in developing machine learning approaches to maximise our ability to find small signals in these noisy, incomplete data sets.

Keywords

Field of Research (FoR)

Biography

I am interested in problems related to detecting and characterizing planets around nearby stars as well as understanding the evolution of stellar activity on these stars. I use data from space-based facilities like NASA's Kepler and Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) missions, as well as ground-based facilities in Australia and abroad. To answer these questions, I am interested in applying machine learning techniques and other...view more

I am interested in problems related to detecting and characterizing planets around nearby stars as well as understanding the evolution of stellar activity on these stars. I use data from space-based facilities like NASA's Kepler and Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) missions, as well as ground-based facilities in Australia and abroad. To answer these questions, I am interested in applying machine learning techniques and other statistical methods to the large data sets that are available and those that will become available in the coming years.

I joined the UNSW School of Physics in October, 2019. I am looking to work with students at all career stages, and am happy to discuss current projects and future plans with interested students. If you are interested in working with me as an undergraduate researcher, Honours student, or PhD student please send an email describing your research experience and attaching your CV and transcript.

You can read more about my research and interests on my website.

Education

PhD, Astrophysics, California Institute of Technology (2016) 

BS, Physics and Astronomy, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (2011)


My Grants

I am the PI of the eleanor project, a NASA-funded program to produce public light curves and software tools to interact with data from the NASA TESS mission. This work has been led by a graduate student at the University of Chicago (my previous institution). We have plans to make technical improvements to the software in the coming years, and I am also looking to work with additional students on various science projects with the resultant data.

I am currently a Scientia Fellow at the University of New South Wales.


My Research Supervision


Areas of supervision

My current interests are in projects at the intersection of astronomy, computer science, and statistics. I am looking for students interested in characterizing planetary systems, understanding the timescales for planet formation through the study of young planets, learning about stellar activity and its relation to habitability, and developing new data analysis techniques. I typically use data from TESS, Kepler, Gaia, and ground-based facilities. I am happy to have conversations about projects in these fields or adjacent ones with interested students.


Currently supervising

I am actively recruiting students at UNSW, having joined the faculty in October 2019. I am currently supervising Adina Feinstein, a graduate student at the University of Chicago. She is currently leading a project to develop a neural network to find flares in TESS data, especially targeting young stars. We are trying to understand the evolution of flare activity over the first billion years of a star's life when life may be first emerging on its orbiting planets.

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Location

Rm 138
Level 1
Old Main Building
School of Physics

Contact

+61-2-9385 5588