Aomawa Shields

Picture of Aomawa Shields
Clare Boothe Luce Associate Professor, Physics & Astronomy
School of Physical Sciences
Ph.D., University of Washington, 2014, Astronomy and Astrobiology
M.F.A., University of California, Los Angeles, 2001, Acting
Sc.B., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1997, Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences
University of California, Irvine
Department of Physics & Astronomy
4129 Frederick Reines Hall
Irvine, CA 92697
Research Interests
Climate and habitability of extrasolar planets orbiting low-mass stars. Multi-dimensional climate models. Interdisciplinary science education and communication.
Academic Distinctions
Clare Booth Luce Endowed Professorship (2016-2021)
The Origins Project Postdoctoral Award Lectureship (2016)
Kavli Fellow (2015)
TED Fellow (2015)
NSF Postdoctoral Fellow (2014–2017)
UC President’s Postdoctoral Fellow (2014–2016)
Research Abstract
My research focuses on identifying those planets outside of our solar system—called extrasolar planets—that are most likely to support life. I use computer models to explore and quantify the effects on habitability of wide range of parameters, such as the type of light a planet receives from its host star, the composition of a planet’s atmosphere and surface, and its rotation rate (how long it takes to turn once on its axis, equal to the duration of the planet’s day), eccentricity (the shape of the planet’s orbit), and obliquity (how tilted the planet is on its axis of rotation). My research group uses a hierarchy of models including one-dimensional (1D) energy balance models (EBMs), which are useful for exploring a wide parameter space, and three-dimensional (3D) global climate models (GCMs), helpful for more in-depth explorations of atmosphere-surface interactions. I specifically focus on small planets in the Earth-sized regime, where they have the potential to be rocky, perhaps with liquid oceans on their surfaces.
Life on Other Planets: A Memoir of Finding My Place in the Universe
Lobo, A., Shields, A. L., Palubski, I., Wolf, E.T. (2023) Terminator Habitability: the Case for Limited Water Availability on M-dwarf Planets, ApJ, 945, 161.
Kossakowski, D., Kürster M., Trifonov, T., Henning, Th., Kemmer, J., Callabero, J.A., Burn, R., Sabotta, S. Crouse, J.S., Fauchez, T.J., Nagel, E., Kaminski, A., Herrero, E., Rodríguez, E., González,-Álvarez E., Quirrenbach, A., Amado, P.J., Ribas, I., Reiners, A., Aceituno, J., Béjar, V.J.S., Baroch D., Bastelberger, S.T., Chaturvedi, P., Cifuentes, C., Dreizler, S., Jeffers, S.V., Kopparapu, R., Lafarga, M., López-González, M.J., Martín-Ruiz, S., Montes, D., Morales, J.C., Pallé, E., Pavlov, A., Schlecker, M., Schöfer, P., Schweitzer, A., Shan, Y., Shields, A., Stock, S., Wolf, E., Zapatero Osorio, M.R., and Zechmeister, M. (2023) The CARMENES search for exoplanets around M dwarfs Wolf 1069 b: Earth-mass planet in the habitable zone of a nearby, very low-mass star, Astronomy & Astrophysics.
Haqq-Misra, J., Wolf, E.T., Fauchez, T.J., Shields, A.L., and Kopparapu, R.K. (2022) The Sparse Atmospheric Model Sampling Analysis (SAMOSA) Intercomparison: Motivations and Protocol Version 1.0: A CUISINES Model Intercomparison Project, Planet. Sci. J., 3, 260.
Rushby, A., Shields, A. L., Wolf, E. T., Lague, M, Burgasser, A. The Effect of Land-Albedo Feedback on the Climate of Land-Dominated Planets in the TRAPPIST-1 System, ApJ, 904, 124.
Palubski, I., Shields, A. L., and Deitrick, R. Habitability and Water Loss Limits on Eccentric Planets Orbiting Main-sequence Stars, ApJ, 890, 30.
Rushby, A., Shields, A. L., and Joshi, M. (2019) The Effect of Land Fraction and Host Star Spectral Energy Distribution on the Planetary Albedo of Terrestrial Worlds, ApJ, 887, 29.
Shields, A. L., Bitz, C.M. and Palubski, I. (2019) Energy Budgets for Terrestrial Extrasolar Planets, ApJL, 884, 2.
Shields, A. L. (2019) The Climates of Other Worlds: A Review of the Emerging Field of Exoplanet Climatology, ApJS, 243, 2.
Shields, A.L., Carns, R.C., (2018) Hydrohalite Salt-albedo Feedback Could Cool M-dwarf Planets, ApJ, 867,1.
Wolf, E.T., Shields, A. L., Kopparapu, R. K., Haqq-Misra, J., Toon, O. B. (2017) Constraints on Climate and Habitability for Earth-like Exoplanets Determined from a General Circulation Model, Astrophysical Journal, 837, 2.
Shields, A. L., Ballard, S., Johnson, J. (2016) The Habitability of Planets Orbiting M-dwarf Stars, Physics Reports, 663:1-38.
Shields, A. L., Barnes, R., Agol, E., Charnay, B., Bitz, C. M., Meadows, V. S. (2016) The Effect of Orbital Configuration on the Possible Climates and Habitability of Kepler-62f, Astrobiology, 16, 6.
Shields, A. L., Bitz, C. M., Meadows, V. S., Joshi, M. M., Robinson, T. D. (2014) Spectrum-driven Planetary Deglaciation Due to Increases in Stellar Luminosity, Astro- physical Journal Letters, 785, 9.
Shields, A. L., Meadows, V. S., Bitz, C. M., Pierrehumbert, R. T., Joshi, M. M., Robinson, T. D. (2013) The Effect of Host Star Spectral Energy Distribution and Ice- Albedo Feedback on the Climate of Extrasolar Planets, Astrobiology, 13, 8.
NSF CAREER Award (2018-2023)
NASA Habitable Worlds grant (2017-2020)
NASA Exoplanets Research program grant (2023-2025)
Professional Societies
American Astronomical Society
American Geophysical Union
Research Centers
Shields Center for Exoplanet Climate and Interdisciplinary Education (SCECIE)
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