Current members

Mike Sori, Principal Investigator/Assistant Professor

Mike is an assistant professor and planetary scientist at Purdue working on understanding the solid planets and moons of our Solar System through their geophysics and surface processes.  He earned his B.S. in Mathematics and B.A. in Physics from Duke University in 2008 and his Ph.D. in Planetary Science from MIT in 2014.  He uses numerical models and data from NASA spacecraft in his research, and has been involved with NASA missions such as GRAIL, Dawn, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, and the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.  Aside from planetary science, Mike enjoys travel and playing with his black lab Apollo.

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Kristel Izquierdo, Postdoctoral Researcher

Kris joined Purdue in Spring 2021 as a postdoctoral researcher.  She is interested in the interior structure, origin, and evolution of the terrestrial planets and our Moon.  During her PhD at the University of Maryland, she used GRAIL data to constrain lunar density anomalies.  She is continuing investigations of the Moon focusing on how lunar gravity anomalies relate to surface and interior processes.  She is also working with Professor Ali Bramson on polar spiral troughs on Mars.  In her free time, she enjoys playing volleyball, eating good food, and playing with her two dogs Limon and Flor.  Her personal website can be found here.

Stephanie Menten, Graduate Student

Stephanie joined Purdue in 2020 as a PhD student. She earned her B.S. in Geology from North Carolina State University in Spring 2020.  She is interested in planetary ices and volcanism, and her research is focused on understanding the mechanics of cryovolcanism on icy bodies in the outer solar system.  Stephanie is the recipient of Purdue University's Ross Fellowship, which recognizes academic excellence.  In her free time, Stephanie enjoys hiking, yoga, and reading a good book.

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Hannah Gibson, Graduate Student

Hannah became a PhD student at Purdue in 2018. She earned her B.S. in Astronomy from the University of Kansas in 2018. She has interests in the connection of surface features on icy moons to their subsurface processes. She uses finite element modeling methods to study the formation of double ridges on Europa. Hannah is co-advised by Professor Brandon Johnson.  When not researching mysterious moons, Hannah plays mandolin and absorbs as many stories as possible.

Ian Pamerleau, Graduate Student

Ian joined Purdue as a PhD student in 2021 after completing his B.S. in Mathematics and Geology at the University of Pittsburgh in 2021.  His research interests include geomorphology, planetary surfaces, and fluid dynamics.  His current research project involves studying the icy crust of Ceres using observations from the Dawn spacecraft and numerical models.  Outside the lab, Ian enjoys cross country running, fencing, and playing music.


Imani Lawrence, Undergraduate Student Researcher

Imani is an undergraduate student majoring in planetary science at Purdue.  She is researching polar science on Mars using remote sensing data from orbital spacecraft, including analyzing  topography and image data of icy features.  In her free time, Imani enjoys playing tennis, exercising, and family time.

Lauren Dickson, Undergraduate Student Researcher

Lauren is an undergraduate student studying planetary science at Purdue.  She is interested in impact cratering, planetary volcanism, and Solar System chronology.  Lauren is researching the cause of gravitational anomalies at craters on Ceres.  In her free time, Lauren enjoys video games, playing the flute and piccolo, and observing the planets through her telescope.

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Apollo, The Lab's Lab

Apollo received his training degree from PetSmart University in Tucson in 2015.  He is interested in testing the strength of planetary regolith with his paws, conducting sample return of launched objects, and exploration of nearby geological landscapes.  He is named after the program that sent humans to the Moon and is therefore very excited to be at Purdue University, Cradle of Astronauts.


Katherine Meves, Undergraduate Student Researcher

Katherine is an undergraduate researcher majoring in planetary science, as well as minoring in astronomy and mathematics. Currently, she is researching dark halo craters on the moon's surface with postdoctoral researcher Kristel Izquierdo. Katherine is interested in the study of exoplanets, specifically the discovery of them via the transit method. Outside of research and academics, Katherine enjoys reading, kickboxing, and spending time with her friends.