Dr. Christine Chen is currently Deputy Branch Manager for the STScI Near Infrared Camera (NIRCam) Branch. NIRCam is the workhorse near-infrared imager (at 1-5 micron) for the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) that is currently expected to launch in March 2021. As NIRCam Deputy, Dr. Chen is responsible for providing support to NIRCam Branch Manager in the planning and oversight of the STScI NIRCam work, including User Support, Operations, and Pipeline Development. Dr. Chen has served as an associate astronomer with tenure at the Institute since 2015 and joined as an assistant astronomer in 2008. In addition, she has been a Research Scientist in the Johns Hopkins University Physics and Astronomy Department since 2016 and joined as an Associate Research Scientist since 2015.
Dr. Chen's research has centered on using multi-wavelength observations to elucidate the properties of dust in debris disks (grain size, porosity, shape and composition). Debris disks are exoplanetary systems that contain not only planets but also minor body belts, analogous to the asteroid and Kuiper Belts in our Solar System. Detailed characterization of the constituent dust can shed light on how exoplanetary systems form and evolve. Dr. Chen is currently leading an international team of astronomers using the Gemini Planet Imager on the Gemini South Telescope to better characterize the star light reflected from debris dust. She is a member of the JWST Mid Infrared Instrument (MIRI) Guaranteed Time Observer (GTO) Team.
Before joining the institute, Dr. Chen was a Spitzer Postdoctoral Fellow at the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO), a NOAO Postdoctoal Fellow at the NASA Life and Planets Astrobiology Center, and a National Research Council Resident Research Associate at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. While a postdoc working with the Spitzer Infrared Spectrograph (IRS) Disks Team, she was the first researcher to model the mid-infrared thermal emission for large numbers of debris disks using the IRS. Throughout her career, Dr. Chen has served as a reviewer for NASA ROSES calls for proposals; the time allocation process for NASA WIYN, NASA Keck, and the Spitzer Science Center; the fellow selection process for the Hubble, Sagan, and Giacconi Fellowships. She is a member of the American Astronomical Society (AAS), the Astronomical Society of the Pacific (ASP), and International Astronomical Union (IAU).