MIT Kavli Institute Directory

Clara Sousa-Silva

EAPS Postdoctoral Associate with an MKI Affiliation Postdoctoral Scholar

Clara is a molecular astrophysicist and science communicator. Clara lived in Scotland from 2005 to 2010 where she did her undergraduate and masters degrees at the University of Edinburgh. For her masters thesis, Clara studied the dynamic effect of death of a star on its planetary system. In 2011 she moved to London and joined the ExoMol project (University College London) as a PhD student under the supervision of Professor Jonathan Tennyson. For her PhD, Clara simulated the spectra for the phosphine molecule with unprecedented breadth and accuracy.

In September 2016 Clara joined MIT as a post-doc in the EAPS (MIT) department working with Sara Seager. In the two years before Clara left London for Massachusetts, she was the Educational Co-ordinator for the Twinkle Space Mission and founder of EduTwinkle, the mission's educational program. As part of EduTwinkle, Clara ran the ORBYTS (Original Research By Young Twinkle Students), where students from state schools worked along scientists to produce original research associated with space exploration. Four scientific articles are now being written up, with several of the kids as co-authors.

Download Clara's full CV HERE

Research interests: 

Clara's interests lie in the molecular characterization of extra-solar planets and making science a more inclusive world, particularly for girls. Clara's ultimate goal is to find a habitable planet outside the Solar System by working with a large, inclusive and diverse team of scientists. For her part, Clara wants to understand alien atmospheres by developing a sophisticated understanding of the impact different molecules have on an atmosphere’s spectra.

Representative publications: 

LK McKemmish, T Masseron, S Sheppard, E Sandeman, Z Schofield, T Furtenbacher, A G Császár, J Tennyson, and C Sousa-Silva, MARVEL Analysis of the Measured High-resolution Rovibronic Spectra of 48Ti16O, The Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series 228, 15 (2017)

C Sousa-Silva, J Tennyson and S N Yurchenko, Tunnelling Splitting in the Phosphine Molecule, Journal of Chemical Physics, 145, 091102, 2016.

J Tennyson, S N Yurchenko, A F Al-Refaie, E J Barton, K Chubb, P J Coles, S Diamantopoulou, M Gorman, C Hill, L Lodi, L K McKemmish, Y Na, O L Polyansky, C Sousa-Silva, D S Underwood, A Yachmenev and E Zak, The ExoMol Database: Molecular Line Lists for Exoplanet and Other Hot Atmospheres, Journal of Molecular Spectroscopy, 327, 73-94, 2015.

C Sousa-Silva, A F Al-Refaie, J Tennyson, S N Yurchenko, ExoMol line lists – VII: The Rotation-vibration Spectrum of Phosphine up to 1500K, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 446, 2337-2347, 2015.

C Sousa-Silva, N Hesketh, S N Yurchenko and J Tennyson, High Temperature Partition Functions and Thermodynamic Data for Phosphine and Ammonia, Journal of Quantitive Spectroscopy and Radiative Transfer, 142, 66-74, 2014.

C Sousa-Silva, S N Yurchenko and J Tennyson, A Computed Room Temperature Line List for Phosphine, Journal of Molecular Spectroscopy, 288, 28-37, 2013.

C Sousa-Silva, G Veryasov, E Goreshnik, M Ponikvar and A Jesih, Crystal Structure and Vibrational Spectra of Hydrazinium (+1) Fluorocadmate, Monatshefte fur Chemie-Chemical Monthly, 144 (10), 1455-1459, 2013.

Contact Information

t: 617-253-6283


Research Areas