Brittany Miles

Brittany Miles

PhD Granting Institution: The University of California Santa Cruz

Department: Astronomy / Steward Observatory

College: College of Science

Mentor: Daniel Apai, Ph.D.  

Research Proposal: Characterizing Brown Dwarfs and Directly Imaged Planets in the Mid-Infrared

Brittany Miles completed her Ph.D. in Astronomy and Astrophysics at The University of California Santa Cruz where she served as a Eugene Cota-Robles and NSF Graduate Research Fellow.

Brittany’s expertise lies in mid-infrared observations of brown dwarfs—astronomical objects that share properties with both planets and stars. By placing unique constraints on the atmospheric structures of these cold objects, she provides a template for predicting and interpreting future direct images of cooler exoplanets. Her brown dwarf observations inform her work as an instrumentalist, where she retrofits and tests detector capabilities to support more precise characterization of exoplanets.

During her fellowship, Brittany will first continue her observations of brown dwarf atmospheres to obtain data on cloud composition and behavior. As co-principal investigator on a James Webb Space Telescope proposal, she will explore the coldest known brown dwarf to inspect possible water clouds and water vapor and infer how such features may behave on gas giant exoplanets. Brittany also plans to enhance the sensitivity of ground-based instruments to capture images of more Earth-like planets. Her work will be instrumental to the field as more large telescopes come online in the years ahead.

In his letter of support, Dr. Buell Jannuzi, Department Head, Astronomy, shared: “Brittney Miles is on an optimal trajectory to become an exceptional candidate to join the tenure track faculty in the Department of Astronomy and Steward Observatory…Her accomplishments as a graduate student at one of the leading graduate programs in the world are outstanding. Her areas of research are an excellent match to the work that is important not only to our department, but to the federal funding agencies (NSF and NASA in particular). She is an instrumentalist (developer of technology), an incredibly rare focus and critically important in our field. Steward Observatory of the University of Arizona was one of the three research centers in the world that developed near and mid-IR astronomical sensors and observing techniques (e.g. Regents’ Professor George Rieke) and this is an area critical for our future leadership in astronomy and astrophysics.”