Jayne Birkby is an Assistant Professor at the University of Amsterdam. She obtained her PhD at the University of Cambridge in 2012, where she studied the fundamental properties of cool stars, and hunted for exoplanets. She spent her first postdoc at Leiden University in the Netherlands characterizing exoplanet atmospheres, before becoming a NASA Sagan Fellow at Harvard University. She moved to the Anton Pannekoek Institute in summer 2017 to begin her professorship, where she and her group are working towards the detection of biosignatures on other worlds with the upcoming extremely large telescopes.
Jayne uses very high-resolution spectroscopy and the unique spectral fingerprints of different molecules to separate the light of an exoplanet from the glare of its host star. This reveals the planet’s atmospheric composition, its wind patterns, the length of its day, and the presence of stratospheres, akin to our ozone layer. Jayne’s current work focuses on gas and ice giants, surveying their extremely diverse properties to understand how they formed. Ultimately, she aims to use this technique to detect signs of life in nearby rocky worlds. Jayne is an advocate for diversity amongst researchers and helped instigate an international summer research program in astronomy in the Netherlands.
Exoplanet atmospheres, planet formation, biosignatures, cool stars, habitability.