By Pilar Vergeli
Dr. Thomas Fauchez is a planetary scientist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center working under the NASA-USRA cooperative agreement GESTAR. He was born in France, and arrived in the US in late 2014 as a NASA NPP fellow. We’re so glad he’s an member of the NExSS community!
What does your academic career up to this point look like? Did you study anything unusual in college or graduate school? Did you expect to be doing this job, or was it a surprise?
I first started to work on massive star systems (using visible and X-ray light) during my bachelors and masters. I then did a PhD and NASA Postdoctoral Program (NPP) in Earth Science, on cloud and radiative transfer, and now I am working in planetary science, mostly on exoplanets for the last 3 years and a half. So I have work experience in Astrophysics, Earth science and planetary science. Yes, I always wanted to be a scientist (astrophysicist), since I was 8 years old or so.
What do you do on a typical day at your job?
I am trying to keep a good balance. I start with cleaning emails and slack messages, responding to students and on projects that require my quick input. Then I usually work on writing papers, spend 1h or so at the gym, attend to meetings etc. At night when everything is more quite I usually work on coding/debugging.
What is something that would surprise someone to learn about you?
According to a DNA test I have actually more English DNA than French!
What has been your favorite moment of your science career so far?
Presenting my work at a NASA press conference at AAS. (NASA press release here!)
What academic accomplishment are you most proud of?
Leading the TRAPPIST-1 Habitable Atmosphere Intercomparison (THAI) and more generally the new Climates Using Interactive Suites of Intercomparisons Nested for Exoplanet Studies (CUISINES) project.Nested for Exoplanet Studies (CUISINES) project.
What is the next skill you would most like to tackle, and why?
I would to know more about ground base observations of exoplanet atmospheric characterization.
Science is stressful. What is your favorite way to relax, or what are some hobbies you do when you’re not at work?
Working out at the gym, around 8h a week, cooking, wine and whisky tastings and of course traveling (but not right now….)
What influence did being a part of NExSS have on your research and career?
NExSS is a fantastic network connecting scientists from many fields of expertise, I have learnt and growth a lot from interacting with others within the NExSS umbrella, participating to the NExSS workshops and conferences and leading a science working group.
Anything else you’d like to say?
Good luck to everyone during this pandemic, and particularly to students who have to learn and grow without having the possibility to have a mentor to help and support them in person.
Also, I would like to thank my mentor, colleague and friend, Shawn D. Domagal-Goldman, who gave me the opportunity, almost 4 years ago, to work in such an incredible field. Thank you for having believed in me Shawn!