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Jack Madden

Graduate Student, Astronomy & Space Sciences


I graduated in 2014 from Franklin and Marshall College with a BA in Astrophysics. While at F&M I worked with Dr. Fronefield Crawford on an extragalactic pulsar survey and also on pulsar identification algorithms. I am now a 4th year Ph.D. student in the Department of Astronomy at Cornell University working with Dr. Lisa Kaltenegger. I also work with Dr. Natasha Holmes and Dr. Andrea Stevenson Won on using virtual reality in physics education.


  • Carl Sagan Institute
  • Astronomy

Graduate Fields

  • Astronomy and Space Sciences


Advisor: Professor Lisa Kaltenegger

Exoplanet atmosphere characterization and modeling, habitability, biosignatures and their detection, origins of life.

Other research interests: Relativity, cosmology, astronomy education, educational psychology, science outreach, data visualizations, and 3D modeling.

Work in Astronomy

My current work in astronomy includes modeling the atmospheres of exoplanets. In particular, I look at how different surfaces would affect the current models we use for simulating exoplanet atmospheres. Making these changes alters the surface temperature of the planet as well as its albedo. The goal is to provide a detailed exploration of how different types of surfaces can be classified by upcoming exoplanet observations. There are two models used to achieve this. A 1D climate model is used to figure out properties such as temperature and composition throughout the atmosphere. A second model determines how the molecules in the atmosphere change over time as they interact with each other and are exposed to sunlight. These two models are able to communicate to each other to find the most stable atmosphere given a set of initial conditions. Once a stable solution is found we determine how that combination of the surface + atmosphere would look when observed.

Work in Education

Through my Graduate Research Teaching Fellowship, I am also working on using virtual reality (VR) in physics/astronomy education. My current project involves building a realistic Sun+Earth+Moon simulation in Unity for the Oculus Rift and developing experiences to teach Moon phases. We are trying to see if such an experience in VR is better at teaching spatial/temporal concepts, like Moon phases, than more traditional computer-based lessons.

Work in Scientific Illustration

While at Cornell I have also been a part of creating several scientific illustrations for various projects taking place in the department. My artistic concepts for exoplanets have been used in posters, murals, book covers, journal covers, and grant proposals. The work I have done can be viewed through my website. 



L. Kaltenegger, J. Madden, Z. Lin, S. Rugheimer, A. Segura, R. Luque, E. Pallé, N. Espinoza. The Habitability of GJ 357 d: Possible Climates and Observability. ApJL (2019)

R. Luque et al. Planetary system around the nearby M dwarf GJ 357 including a transiting, hot, Earth-sized planet optimal for atmospheric characterization. A&A (2019)

J. H. Madden, J. P. Schuldt, B. Kim, S. Pandita,  A. S. Won & N. G. Holmes. Ready Student One: Exploring predictors for student learning in virtual reality IN REVIEW 

J. H. Madden & Lisa Kaltenegger. A Catalog of Spectra, Albedos, and Colors of Solar System Bodies for Exoplanet Comparison. Astrobiology Vol 18 No. 12 (2018)

J. H. Madden, A. S. Won, J. P. Schuldt, B. Kim, S. Pandita, Y. Sun, T. J. Stone, & N. G. Holmes. Virtual Reality as a Teaching Tool for Moon Phases and Beyond. Physics Education Research Conference. (2018)

C. Neish, J. Madden, L. Carter, B. Hawke, T. Giguere, V. Bray, G. Osinski, & J. Cahill. Global Distribution of Lunar Impact Melt Flows. Icarus 239 (2014): 105-117

J. Ridley, F. Crawford, D. Lorimer, S. Bailey, J. Madden, R. Anella, & J. Chennamangalam. Eight New Radio Pulsars in the Large Magellanic Cloud. MNRAS 433 (2013): 138-46



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