Ignite Innovation

Emily Hawkins

Planetary Physicist

LMU Assistant Professor of Physics Emily Hawkins standing with hands on hips on a blue background.

Assistant Professor of Physics Emily Hawkins is unearthing clues to extraterrestrial life on distant moons.

Her groundbreaking work in planetary fluid dynamics looks at the behavior of nano-particles found in the icy ocean of Saturn’s moon Enceladus, using data from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft mission. Produced with collaborators from other top research universities and the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, her latest paper proposes a model of water currents that could explain the presence of nano-silica grains, tiny particles that could be a clue to the viability of life.

As an educator and STEM advocate, Hawkins is committed to helping students understand the value of a physics career both in academia and industry. She involves her students in hands-on, interdisciplinary research, including them in novel experiments in her new Fluids of Astrophysical Bodies Lab.

“What I love about this work is that there really is so much that is unknown,” Hawkins says.