Students

Caitlin Ahrens

Caitlin Ahrens

Mentor: Dr. Vincent Chevrier
Emailca006@uark.edu

Caitlin is a graduate of West Virginia University with B.S. degrees in Geology and Physics with an emphasis in Astrophysics. Caitlin entered the graduate program in Space and Planetary Science in Fall 2015. Her Ph.D. research includes cryo-geology and spectroscopy of Pluto using the Pluto Simulation Chamber and also works on Martian mineral spectroscopy. She is the manager of the Pluto Lab.


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Calla Bassett

Mentor: Dr. Daniel Kennefick
Email: cibasset@uark.edu

Calla graduated from Southern Arkansas University with a B.S. in Engineering and a B.S. in Engineering Physics-Science Option in the Spring of 2018, and entered the Space and Planetary Sciences program in the fall of the same year. She is working with Dr. Daniel Kennefick on simulating gravitation waves formed by blackhole binaries, and measuring pitch angles of spiral glaxies in different wavelengths.


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Kelsey Bevenour

Mentor: Dr. Michael Ceballos
Email: knbeveno@uark.edu

Kelsey graduated in 2018 with a BS in Physics from the University of Delaware, along with minors in Cognitive Science and Mathematics, and a concentration in Astrophysics. Currently She is currently doing research in the Biology Department with Dr. Ceballos as her advisor. Since viruses are suspected to have played a major role in the origins and evolution of life on Earth, her project is focused on developing universal principles for double stranded DNA (dsDNA) virus-host coevolution by mathematically modeling the dynamics and interactions of model prokaryotic virus-host systems.


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Ellen Czaplinski

Mentor: Dr. Vincent Chevrier
Email: ecczapli@uark.edu

Ellen graduated from Purdue University in 2016 with a B.S. in Planetary Science and a concentration in geology. Her undergraduate research involved creating a global survey of slipface features on martian sand dunes. She entered the Center for Space and Planetary Sciences graduate program in Fall 2016 as a Ph.D. student. Ellen’s current research involves using the Titan simulation chamber to constrain the composition and spectral properties of evaporite deposits on the surface of Titan. In her free time, Ellen enjoys hanging out with her dogs, playing board games, and desserts.


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Keith Doore

Mentor: Dr. Bret Lehmer
Email: kjdoore@uark.edu

Keith is a 2017 graduate of the University of Northern Iowa with a B.S degree in Physics and a B.A. in Earth Science. Keith joined the graduate program in Space and Planetary Sciences as a Ph.D. student in the Fall of 2017. His research interests include studying the star formation histories of numerous known galaxies by using observational data from space telescopes such as Hubble, Spitzer, GALEX and Herschel.


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Katherine Dzurilla

Mentor: Dr. Vincent Chevrier
Email: kadzuril@uark.edu

Katherine graduated from Oklahoma State University with bachelor’s degrees in Biochemistry and Physics. She joined the Space and Planetary Sciences graduate program in Spring 2018. Katherine is currently studying tholins produced on Titan and their solubility.


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Al Emran

Mentor: Dr. Vincent Chevrier
Email: alemran@uark.edu

Emran is a 2019 graduate of Auburn University with an M.S. degree in Planetary Science specialization where he worked on surficial investigations of Mars using NASA's orbital spacecraft data. He received his B.S. and an M.S. degree from the University of Dhaka, Bangladesh. Emran joined the graduate program in Space and Planetary Sciences as a Ph.D. student in the Fall of 2019. His current research involves the thermal response of Pluto (and Kuiper belt objects or KBOs) using laboratory simulated experiments and NASA's New Horizons spacecraft data. He is also interested in planetary astronomy including exoplanet research.


Kendra Farnsworth

Kendra Farnsworth

Mentor: Dr. Vincent Chevrier
Emailkkfarnsw@uark.edu

Kendra graduated from Texas A&M University in 2014 with a B.S. in Environmental Geoscience with a track in climate change and minors in Meteorology and Geography. Her background involved studying Paleoclimatology using stable isotopes. Now, she is a PhD student in the Space and Planetary Science department studying the freezing of hydrocarbons under simulated Titan surface conditions. She is the Titan team chair.


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Andrew Ferrell

Mentor: Dr. Bret Lehmer
Email: aferrell@uark.edu

Andrew was in the NASA Community Aerospace Scholars class of 2011. He graduated from Crowder College with an Associate of Arts in physics in 2012. He then attended Pittsburg State University, completing a Bachelor of Science in physics with an emphasis in astrophysics and a minor in mathematics, he graduated with departmental academic honors from the Department of Physics in 2014. This was followed by a Master of Science in physics from the University of Arkansas, completed in 2018. He joined SPAC in Fall 2018. His research is focused on how low-mass x-ray binaries located in nearby galaxies evolve over the age of the universe, primarily using data from Hubble Space Telescope and Chandra X-Ray Observatory.


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Jadelyn Hoerr

Mentor: Dr. Dan Lessner
Email: jmhoerr@uark.edu

Jadelyn graduated from College of the Ozarks with a B.S. degree in Human and Molecular Biology. She entered the Space and Planetary Sciences program as a Ph.D. student in Fall 2019 and is currently studying hydrogenases in methanogenic archaea, specifically Methanosarcina acetivorans.


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Paul Knightly

Mentor: Dr. Vincent Chevrier
Email: jknightl@uark.edu

Paul is a 2013 graduate of Wichita State University with a Bachelor of Science in Geology. He joined the Space and Planetary Sciences program in Fall 2016 as a PhD student after working in industry as an environmental field geologist. His research interests are primarily focused on Mars and studying the morphology of polar landscapes and how water brines impact near sub-surface environments.


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Jill McDonald

Mentor: Dr. Vincent Chevrier
Email: jrm071@uark.edu

Jill is a 2018 graduate of Missouri Southern State University with a B.S. in Physics. She entered the Space and Planetary Science graduate program in Fall 2018. Research focus is on mixtures of gas and ice called clathrates. She uses the Pluto Chamber to determine how different types of clathrate form at low temperature, low pressure conditions. When she’s not in the lab, Jill enjoys spending time outside with family, reading, playing drums, and baking.


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Cadi Morrison

Mentor: Dr. Adam Huang
Email: cem011@uark.edu

Cadi graduated in 2018 with her BS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Arkansas. She started her MS in Space and Planetary Science in Fall 2019 with a focus in engineering. Her research will be involved with the current CubeSat projects, ARKSAT-1 and ARKSAT-2.


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Cameron Nunn

Mentor: Dr. Timothy Kral
Email: cknunn@uark.edu

Cameron graduated from the University of Missouri- St. Louis in the spring of 2016 with a B.S. in Physics with emphasis in Astrophysics. During her undergraduate studies, she helped research organic volatiles in comets by reducing and analyzing spectra, which has astrobiological implications. She is currently working on research concerning Enceladus and its potential for life.


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Daniel Oliver

Mentor: Dr. Daniel Kennefick
Email: djo001@uark.edu

Daniel is a graduate of Oklahoma State University with a bachelor's degree in Physics. During his time at OSU he assisted with research on the effects of slow noise in a laser with injected signal. Daniel entered the graduate program in Space and Planetary Science at the University of Arkansas in Fall 2017.


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James Phillips

Mentor: Dr. Kennefick
Email: jrphilli@uark.edu

James graduated from the University of Arkansas in 2017 with a B.S. in Astronomy. He joined the graduate program in Space and Planetary Sciences in the fall of 2018. James works with the Arkansas Galaxy Evolution Survey (AGES) collaboration, where he works with machine learning and computer vision techniques for astrometric data collection.


Sara Port

Sara Port

Mentor: Dr. Vincent Chevrier
Email: saraport@uark.edu

Sara graduated from Stony Brook University with a Bachelor's of Science in Astronomy and Physics. She entered the Center for Space and Planetary Sciences as a graduate student in the Fall of 2014 and is pursuing a PhD in Space and Planetary Sciences. She is currently studying the formation of "metal frost" on the highlands of Venus through experiments, radar data analysis, and thermodynamic modeling.


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Cassie Sands

Mentor: Dr. Adam Huang
Email: cmsands@uark.edu

Cassie graduated from Purdue University in 2012 with a B.S. in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering and a minor in Physics. They joined the center in Fall 2018 after six years' work in the commercial aircraft industry. Cassie is the graduate project manager of the ARKSAT-2 cubesat project, and is investigating planetary science applications of the spacecraft system concept to other bodies in the solar system. Their professional interests include: missions in the solar system, history of science, and the intersection of science and society.


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Rachel Slank

Mentor: Dr. Vincent Chevrier
Email: rslank@uark.edu

Rachel graduated from the University of Texas at El Paso with a Master’s of Science in Geology in 2016. She focused on discovering subsurface cavities on the Moon using thermal inertia. Rachel double majored in Geology and Earth Science at the University of Arkansas in her undergrad and graduated in 2013. She is currently working on studying the stability of adsorbed water at the surface of Mars, as well as the transfer of water vapor between the regolith and atmosphere. Her research is conducted through experiments in a Mars simulation chamber located on campus. She is the manager of the Mars Lab.


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Andrea Wallace

Mentor: Dr. Alan Mantooth
Email: akwallac@uark.edu

Andrea graduated from the University of Arkansas with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering in 2016. She is now a graduate student in the Space and Planetary Sciences PhD program. She works as a research assistant in the Electrical Engineering department. Her field of research is extreme environment electronics and she is currently interested in the development of high temperature electronics for the future Venus missions.


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Kim Zoldak

Mentor: Dr. Julia Kennefick
Email: kzoldak@uark.edu

Kim is a graduate of California University of Pennsylvania with a Bachelors of Science in Meteorology.  She entered the Space and Planetary Science program in the Spring of 2010.  Her dissertation research has two parts: 1) On the fundamental plane of black hole activity, estimating the masses of black holes at the center of active galaxies.  2) Exploring the energetics of gamma-ray bursts using data from the Fermi Space Telescope.  She is specifically interested in the observational biases in how isotropic equivalent energies are measured and what the true meaning of the energy is.  Kim has interned at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, was a NASA Space Science Student Ambassador from 2010-2012, and is very active in educational outreach across NW-Arkansas.