ESP Biography

STEVEN GIACALONE, UC Berkeley graduate student studying Astrophysics

Major: Astronomy

College/Employer: UC Berkeley

Year of Graduation: G

Picture of Steven Giacalone

Brief Biographical Sketch:

I'm a graduate student in the UC Berkeley Department of Astronomy. I study exoplanets and build tools that help us detect them.

I went to college at the University of Chicago, where I graduated in 2017 with a B.A. in Physics and a specialization in Astrophysics.

Past Classes

  (Look at the class archive for more.)

The Search For Habitable Exoplanets in Splash Fall 18
Just a few decades ago, the idea of there being planets around stars outside of our Solar System was the stuff of science fiction. But no more. In the last two decades, astrophysicist have discovered thousands of these extrasolar planets (or exoplanets, for short). A large part of this effort has been devoted to determining how many habitable planets - planets that humans, or some other form of life, can live on - exist in the Milky Way Galaxy. In this class, we'll talk about how astrophysicists find and characterize exoplanets. We'll begin by discussing the famous Drake equation, which can be used to estimate the number of active extraterrestrial civilizations in the Milky Way Galaxy, and how astrophysicists are working to solve it. We'll then discuss the science behind the different exoplanet detection techniques and how we use them to learn about what planets are made of. Last, we'll discuss how we gather information about exoplanet atmospheres and how that information is used to determine if a planet is habitable - or is already inhabited.

The Search for Habitable Exoplanets in Splash Fall 17
Astronomers all over the world are on a quest to find Earth 2.0. Using various observation methods, we can find planets that are orbiting distant stars and determine how similar they are to Earth. In this course we will discuss these methods along with the implications of discovering a habitable exoplanet.