BSc University of Michigan, 2017
Catherine Clark is interested in the intersection between stellar astrophysics and astronomical instrumentation. Her research is focused on characterizing the smallest, coldest, faintest stars — known as M-dwarfs — using high-resolution imaging techniques. In particular, she uses speckle and long-baseline interferometry to imaging the smallest stars on the highest spatial scales. These techniques allow for the direct measurement of stellar multiplicity to better characterize not only the M-dwarfs themselves, but the planets that orbit them as well.
Clark began her academic career at the University of Michigan, where she earned her B.Sc. in Astronomy & Astrophysics, as well as Spanish. In 2017, she moved to Flagstaff to pursue her Ph.D. in Astronomy & Planetary Science at Northern Arizona University. She works as a Graduate Research Assistant under the supervision of Dr. Gerard van Belle at Lowell Observatory.
During her time in graduate school, Clark has produced the Pervasive Overview of Kompanions of Every M-dwarf in Our Neighborhood (POKEMON) speckle survey of nearby M-dwarfs. This survey has resulted in 1151 speckle observations of nearby M-dwarfs, as well as the detection of over 30 previously unresolved companions to these stars. Clark and Dr. van Belle have also designed, built, and commissioned the Quad-camera Wavefront-sensing Six-channel Speckle Interferometer (QWSSI) at the 4.3m Lowell Discovery Telescope (LDT). QWSSI is tailored to the optical properties of the LDT, and is finely tuned to studying our low-mass neighbors.
Currently, Clark is using speckle imaging to follow up low-mass, planet-hosting binary systems observed by the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite. She is also using the Center for High Angular Resolution Astronomy (CHARA) array to characterize M-dwarf multi-star systems at the smallest separations and the highest resolution available to ground-based astronomers.
Check out Clark’s webpage.