Senior thesis leads to research path

Laura at microscope

Academic focus: astronomy major

I started working for Professor Dyar the summer after my first year at Mount Holyoke College and I have spent every summer since preparing samples and collecting spectroscopic data in our mineral spectroscopy lab.

Following graduation from Mount Holyoke, I began working as a Laboratory Technician for Professor Dyar where my primary task is to collect Raman spectra. Raman scattering is a rare inelastic interaction resulting in a change of vibrational state within the material. This is accomplished using a laser to excite the sample (in the case of this research, a mineral or rock).

As part of my research, I have created multivariate mineral composition models. These are intended to be useful for future planetary missions carrying Raman instruments such as Mars 2020 and ExoMars.

In addition to Mars, my research has lunar and other planetary applications. I will be presenting a Raman ilmenite and geikielite composition model at the 2018 Lunar and Planetary Science Conference.

The Department of Astronomy has provided me with unbelievable opportunities and phenomenal resources over the past few years. The incredible mentorship of Professor Dyar has played an important role in my development into a scientist.