Skylar Larsen

Astronomy & Space Sciences


My name is Skylar Larsen (she/they), and I am a second-year graduate student at Cornell’s Carl Sagan Institute studying exoplanets and astrobiology.  I received a Bachelor of Science in Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. During undergrad, I worked with my advisor, Dr. Richard Binzel, and Johnson Space Center (JSC) researcher Dr. Driss Takir on observational spectroscopy of asteroids.  I was first introduced to this research while interning at the Lunar and Planetary Institute (LPI), where I detected water on near-Earth asteroids via remote spectroscopy data from NASA’s Infrared Telescope Facility (IRTF); this work would later become my undergraduate thesis.

Nowadays, I work with Cornell Professor Lisa Kaltenegger on exoplanet modeling and data analysis techniques.  The main goal of my career: find the aliens!  If any extraterrestrial life exists in the universe, I want to help find it!  To do that, I model the atmospheres of terrestrial exoplanets to deduce whether habitable exoplanet spectra could be detectable by modern and/or future telescopes.  Additionally, I am working to develop code that automatically analyzes and displays exoplanet transit data.  While at Cornell, I am applying my experience in coding, data analysis, and spectroscopy to exoplanet atmospheric modeling, planetary habitability, and astrobiology.  

When I’m not doing research, I’m drawing, spending time with my cat Mallow, playing video game music on the piano (or violin, or ocarina, or… you get the idea), or playing D&D with old friends.