Dr. Avi Mandell is an exoplanet scientist in the Planetary Systems Laboratory at NASA Goddard; his research focuses on the characterization of extrasolar planets and the formation and evolution of planetary systems, with the specific goal of understanding factors that determine whether a planetary system can form habitable planets and what the characteristics of these planets will be. He works on analyzing observations of transiting and directly imaged exoplanets and circumstellar disks, including modeling spectra of planetary atmospheres as well as the dynamical evolution of planets and planetesimals during the formation of planetary systems, and he is the co-founder of the GSFC Sellers Exoplanet Environments Collaboration.
Exoplanet Formation & Characterization
The study of planet formation and extra-solar planets utilizing Vis and IR spectroscopy of exoplanets and circumstellar disks, including new instrument and mission development as well as relevant theoretical simulations of planetary structure, formation and evolution.
NASA Goddard - Greenbelt, MD
July 2010 - Present
Research on the formation of planetary systems and the characterization of extrasolar planets from both an observational and theoretical perspective. Planning and operations for current and future instrumentation for space and ground-based telescopes.
NASA Post-Doctoral Fellow
NASA Goddard - Greenbelt, MD
October 2007 - July 2010
Near-IR spectroscopy of gas in circumstellar disks; NIR spectroscopic observations of exo-planet atmospheres; simulations of terrestrial planet formation in diverse system architectures
Ph.D., The Pennsylvania State University, 2007
Astronomy and Astrophysics, Dual Title in Astrobiology
- Thesis: “Effects Of Circumstellar Gas On Terrestrial Planet Formation:
Theory And Observation”
Advisors: Prof. Steinn Sigurðsson, Dr. Michael Mumma
B.A., Vassar College, Physics and Astronomy, 1999
- Senior thesis advisor: Prof. Debra Elmegreen
Editorial Board of Universe Journal, “Planetary Sciences” Section (invited), 2021
Team Lead, JWST Rocky Planet Emission Initiative, 2020
SOC & LOC Chair, GSFC SEEC Symposium, 2019
Director, GSFC Sellers Exoplanet Environments Collaboration, 2017-2021
P.I., GSFC Exoplanet Modeling & Analysis Cente, 2017-Pres.
Lead & Member, LUVOIR Science Support Analysis Team, 2015-2019
Deputy P.I., Roman S.T. Science Investigation Team (P.I. Turnbull), 2015-2021
Team Lead, GSFC ATLAST Exoplanet Science Working Group, 2014-2017
Participant, JWST Transit Observing Planning Workshop, 2014
Member, NASA Headquarters Challenge Working Group: Are We Alone, 2013
Member, Red Team Review Panel, Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, 2012
Local Organizing Committee Member, GSFC Signposts of Planets Conference, 2010
Contributing Author, Encyclopedia of Astrobiology, 2010
Panel Member, GSFC Internal Research & Development Review Panel, 2010
Panel Member, NASA & NSF Program Review Panels, 2010-Pres.
Member, SOC, NASA Astrobiology Inst. FAR Seminar Series, 2008
Session Chair, Astrobiology Science Conference 2008
Member, Astrobiology Society Founding & Early Career Committees, 2007 – 2010
Chair, Organizing Committee, Astrobiology Graduate Conference, 2007
Previous or Current Missions and Instruments
- WFIRST CGI Integral Field Spectrograph – Instrument Scientist
High-Altitude Balloon Missions
- Observatory for Planetary Investigations from the Stratosphere (OPIS) - Co-P.I.
- Gondola for High Altitude Planetary Science (GHAPS) – Deputy Project Scientist
Previous or Current Observing Campaigns
SOFIA Observatory (NASA)
- Searches for exoplanet atmospheric signatures (P.I., Co-I.)
Hubble Space Telescope (NASA)
- Characterization of transiting exoplanet atmospheres (Co-I.)
Very Large Telescope Observatory (ESO)
- Survey for organics in circumstellar disks (P.I.)
W.M. Keck Observatory (NASA/Caltech)
- Multi-object spectroscopy of extrasolar planet atmospheres (P.I.)
- Surveys for molecules in circumstellar disks (P.I., Co-I.)
Hobby-Eberly Telescope (Penn State)
- Spectroscopic search for signatures of exo-planets (P.I.)
Mission and Instrument Proposals or Studies
Large UV Optical InfraRed (LUVOIR) Surveyor – GSFC Science Team Lead, Member
- Supported the development of the LUVOIR science case and study report
Transiting Explanet Explorer Balloon (TEEBall) – P.I.
- Proposed to the Astrophysics Research and Analysis opportunity
Lunar Water Distribution (LWaDi) CubeSat - Institutional Lead
- Proposed to the Small, Innovative Missions for Planetary Exploration opportunity
Near Infrared Multi-Band Ultraprecise Spectrophotometer (NIMBUS) - Deputy P.I.
- Proposed as a 2nd generation instrument for the SOFIA Observatory