Trevor Foote

Astronomy & Space Sciences


I am a third-year Ph.D. candidate interested in analyzing exoplanet atmospheres, specifically to identify potentially habitable planets and detecting bio-signatures. With a background in engineering, I am also interested in detector development for use in the analysis of these far-off worlds.

My academic path has been a non-traditional route receiving two bachelor's degrees from Washington State University, one in Civil Engineering in 2011 and one more recently in Astrophysics in 2019. During my time in between these two degrees, I served in the U.S. Army as an Engineering Officer and worked in the construction industry as a project engineer. Following the completion of my second bachelor’s degree, I began work on my current Ph.D. here at Cornell.

While working toward my second bachelor's, I worked with Dr. Guy Worthey looking at Type Ia Supernovae (SN Ia) and whether their distance from their host galaxy plays a role in their maximum luminosity as a potential way to explain the discrepancy between SN Ia and CMB communities' Hubble constant calculations. 

Research conducted while here at Cornell includes data reduction and atmospheric analysis on Hubble eclipse data for hot Jupiter, WASP-79b under my advisor Dr. Nikole Lewis. More recently I have worked on the Pandora SmallSat Mission team as a job shadow to the lead instrument scientist Dr. Tom Barclay. During this position, I have utilized Pandora’s spectrum simulator along with the ATMO library of atmospheric forward grid models to perform a Chi-squared map of each planetary target to determine what constraints the Pandora mission will be able to provide on the target planets’ physical and atmospheric components. I also developed a signal-to-noise calculator to assist in prioritizing the most promising targets for Pandora. I am currently developing a 2D image simulator for the Pandora mission for use in understanding instrument-level systematics and in the development of the data processing pipeline.

Outside the research, I enjoy working out, playing ultimate frisbee, and just being outdoors.  I also enjoy woodworking in my garage on the weekends, building everything from cutting boards to my dining room table.


Research Focus

Advisor: Professor Nikole Lewis