Michelle is a Torres postdoctoral fellow specializing in exoplanet detection, characterization, and demographics. She is particularly interested in improving automated vetting pipelines for distinguishing planets from false positives, as well as developing new statistical frameworks to estimate exoplanet occurrence rates and constrain planet formation and evolution theory. For her PhD, she developed an independent pipeline to search archival Kepler data for new exoplanets, and estimated occurrence rates including the abundance of potentially habitable planets around Sun-like stars.
She later came to MIT as a postdoctoral associate working on the TESS mission, where she led MIT’s Quick-Look Pipeline team and discovered thousands of new planet candidates. She also established the TESS Faint Star Search, which has independently found thousands more planet candidates including many of the only giant planets orbiting M dwarfs confirmed so far. Beyond planet detection, her TESS postdoctoral work involved the confirmation and characterization of multiple planetary systems including TOI-4010 and TOI-4599, predictions for the future TESS exoplanet yield, and improved estimates of hot Jupiter occurrence rates around diverse stellar populations. Starting in 2024, Michelle will be an Assistant Professor in the Physics and Astronomy department at the University of British Columbia.