2014-2015 Fellows

Chris Theissen

Degree Sought : Ph.D.
Research Focus:

School Name : Atlantic MS, Quincy
Teaching Partner: Donna Glynn
Chris's Project GLACIER Site

Christopher Theissen is a 2nd year Ph.D student studying planetary evolution around low-mass stars (M dwarfs). His research seeks to understand the long-term evolution of planetary systems, focusing on M dwarfs due to their abundance within the Galaxy, and their penchant for forming terrestrial planets. Currently, M dwarfs are the focus of many surveys looking for habitable worlds. This is due to many factors making small planets easy to detect around small stars, which is not the case for more massive stars. Chris is currently studying a number of M dwarfs that may have had recent collisions between terrestrial planets (think Earth slamming into Mars). If such collisions are common, this may pose a problem for finding a habitable world around an M dwarf, and more importantly, may have implications for the future of our own Solar system.

Chris's teaching partner at the Atlantic Middle School in Quincy is Donna Glynn. Donna teaches 8th grade science. Donna is dedicated to teaching science through experiment/trial-and-error, and seeks to use up-to-date examples with real data to show students the care with which scientists must tread. Together, Donna and Chris are working to bring data-fueled science into the classroom, and talk about climate change with an emphasis on how green house gases affect the atmosphere using example within our own Solar system (e.g. Venus's well known run-away green house).
Sponsored by the NSF GK-12 Program