laura_2015ABOUT ME: 

Proud Chicana born and raised in San Antonio, Texas. I am a former recipient of the NASA OSTEM MUREP Harriett G. Jenkins Predoctoral Fellowship (read more about Dr. Jenkins here). I am a first-generation college graduate, obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Physics from the University of Texas at San Antonio (December 2013). I am a former student of the Fisk-Vanderbilt Master’s-to-PhD Bridge Program, where I earned a Master’s degree in Physics from Fisk University (May 2017) and a PhD in Astrophysics (March 2021), advised by Dr. Keivan Stassun at Vanderbilt University and Dr. Rodolfo Montez Jr. at the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian (CfA). I am currently working at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center with Goddard’s Exoplanets Team, lead by Dr. Elisa Quintana, and conducting research with NASA mentor, Dr. Patricia Boyd and Dr. Alan Smale.
✨ Under the branch of stellar astrophysics, my PhD research was studying a rare class of pulsating supergiant stars in late-stage stellar evolution (e.g., van Winckel, 2003) known as RV Tauri variables. I studied how binarity and the presence of a circumbinary disk affect the light we see from these evolved stars, their pulsations, and their future evolution. I enjoy volunteering as a visiting astronomer at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington DC. In the past, I have conducted a monthly Astronomy Chat, where I interact with museum-visitors of all ages, and chat about astronomy, my research, and share what it is like to be an astronomer.