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The Team – 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 geophysical attributes and 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.

The CV of PI Mike Sori can be downloaded here.

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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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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.

Mariana Blanco-Rojas, Graduate Student

Mariana joined Purdue in 2023 as a PhD student after completing her B.A in Physics and Origins Sciences at Case Western Reserve University. She’s primarily interested in the geodynamics of the icy moons of the outer solar system, as well as what we can learn about planetary surfaces through the analysis of remote sensed data. Outside of academics, Mariana enjoys rock climbing, jogging, embroidering, and has recently gotten into birding!

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Brianne Checketts, Undergraduate Student Researcher

Brianne is double majoring in Planetary Science and Physics with minors in Astronomy and French at Purdue. She has done research on the implications of dark halo craters on the Moon’s surface with postdoctoral researcher Kristel Izquierdo and is currently researching the paleoclimate record of ice mounds within craters on Mars. During her free time, Brianne likes hiking, baking, and reading.

Will Vanderwarker, Undergraduate Student Researcher

Will is majoring in Planetary Science with a minor in Business Economics at Purdue. He is currently doing research on dark halo craters in the Schiller-Schickard region of the Moon. He was recently on a trip to Alaska and enjoyed seeing many cool glaciers!  Outside of school, he enjoys playing sports, cooking, and watching scary movies.


Eva Zhao Petrini, Undergraduate Student Researcher

Eva is majoring in Environmental Geoscience and minoring in Environmental Policy at Purdue. She is currently researching the origin of layered remnant deposits on Mars. In her free time, she likes running, cooking, and reading memoirs.

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.

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Past members

Imani Lawrence (undergrad researcher, class of 2023)

Audrey Durham (undergrad researcher, class of 2023)

Kyle Morin (undergrad researcher, class of 2023)

Isabella Hampton (undergrad researcher, class of 2023)

Katie Burkman (undergrad researcher, class of 2023)

Lauren Dickson (undergrad researcher, class of 2021)

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