My current research has two major themes:
(1) Global catastrophic risk, which is risk of events that could significantly harm or even destroy human civilization at the global scale. Specific risks include climate change, nuclear war, pandemics, future artificial intelligence, biotechnology, asteroid collisions, volcano eruptions, and more. My research characterizes the risks, develops risk-reduction interventions, and discusses overarching issues. This research is conducted mainly with the Global Catastrophic Risk Institute.
(2) Astrobiology, which is the study of life in the universe. My research is on social science and philosophy aspects of astrobiology. Topics include explanations for why humanity has never observed an extraterrestrial civilization, what would happen if we did, prospects for space colonization, and implications for current social issues. This research is conducted mainly with the Blue Marble Space Institute of Science.
My Ph.D. research was on the topic of discounting, the comparison of values across time and space. The dissertation is Discounting Across Space and Time in Climate Change Assessment (Penn State Geography, finished 2012, advisor William Easterling).
My Masters research was with the Center for Subsurface Sensing and Imaging Systems (CenSSIS). My masters thesis, User and Developer Interface Improvements to a Finite Difference Time Domain Code, resulted in the NUFDTD electromagnetics software package (Northeastern University Electrical Engineering, finished 2006, advisor Carey Rappaport).
I have also done research at:
* Columbia University Center for Research on Environmental Decisions (2010-2012), working on the psychology of discounting and related environmental topics.
* Penn State Rock Ethics Institute (2008-2009), working on ethics in scientific research, especially the economics of climate change.
* Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (2003), working in computational acoustic tomography with Sean Lehman
* The University of Rochester Physics Department (2001), working in computational quantum optics with Joseph Eberly
* Andrew's Leap (1996), a Carnegie Mellon University Computer Science Department summer program for Pittsburgh-area high school students. My final project there (with several others) involved designing a robot system that would drop water balloons on innocent pedestrians as they walked by. Matthew Mason advised this project.
Created 15 Jun 2007 * Updated 20 Jun 2016