MIT Kavli Institute Directory

Sam Halverson

Sagan Postdoctoral Fellow Postdoctoral Scholar

Sam received his B.A in Physics and Astrophysics from UC Berkeley in 2009. He completed his PhD at Penn State in 2016 working with Suvrath Mahadevan to develop stabilized optical and near-infrared spectrometers for exoplanet detection. He was a NASA Sagan Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania before joining MKI in 2018, specializing in instrumentation development for future exoplanet discovery instruments.

Research interests: 

Sam's main research focus is on developing new optical and photonic technologies to increase the sensitivity of planet hunting instruments around the globe. He has contributed to a wide array of Doppler spectrometers and precision photometers, all developed for the prime purpose of detecting terrestrial-size exoplanets with using telescopes both on the ground and in space. He is primarily interested in improving the Doppler radial velocity measurement precision of future high resolution astronomical spectrometers, thereby improving our ability to measure the masses of the smallest planets orbiting nearby stars.

He is involved in the design and development of several future Doppler radial velocity instrument projects, including the Extreme Precision Doppler Spectrometer ‘NEID’ on the 3.5 meter WIYN telescope, the Habitable-zone Planet Finder on the 10 meter Hobby Eberly Telescope, the Keck Planet Finder instrument on the 10 meter Keck I telescope, and the Minerva-Red instrument. These spectrometers will be essential tools for characterizing the smallest nearby planets orbiting a variety of different host stars, including the most interesting systems identified by the Kepler, K2, and TESS missions.

Representative publications: