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Caoimhe M. Rooney

PhD, Applied Mathematics

Research Scientist, NASA

Forbes 30 Under 30 Europe

Scientist Astronaut Candidate

Caoimhe is an applied mathematician at NASA Ames Research Center studying distant planets to understand how they formed, what they're made of, and if they could be home to extra-terrestrial life. Recently honoured on the Forbes 30 Under 30 Europe list for Science and Healthcare, Caoimhe is passionate about sharing her experiences to inspire and encourage more young people, especially girls and those from Northern Ireland, to pursue careers in maths and STEM. 

 

Education

Caoimhe obtained a first class honours degree in mathematics from the Trinity College, University of Dublin in 2015, before undertaking a PhD in Industrially Focused Mathematical Modelling at the University of Oxford. She has worked on several innovative technological advances in industry, including blade design for blender company SharkNinja, and metallurgical furnace optimisation for Norwegian companies Elkem and NORCE.

 

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NASA

Caoimhe is currently a Research Scientist at NASA Ames Research Center where she uses mathematical modelling techniques to understand the composition of exoplanets by studying their atmospheric spectra. She works on improving the accuracy of fast and efficient radiative transfer codes while including the impact of clouds and hazes on atmospheric scattering. 

Space

Caoimhe is passionate about space exploration and robotic exploration missions. She attended the International Space University Southern Hemisphere Space Studies Program in Adelaide, Australia, an intensive 5-week program consisting of a rigorous curriculum, practical space activities such as rocket design and launch, and a research project focused on space-based disaster management for developing countries.

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Caoimhe was accepted into the prestigious NASA planetary science mission proposal as part of the NASA JPL Planetary Science Summer School as one of only two foreign nationals. Alongside a group of engineers and planetary scientists, the team designed a mission to Enceladus to search for evidence of life and explore habitable environments.

Scientist Astronaut Candidate

 

Caoimhe is the first Northern Irish scientist astronaut candidate with the International Institute of Astronautical Sciences. She began her training in 2022 through Project PoSSUM, a fully-immersive program that provides the skills required to effectively conduct research on the next generation of commercial space vehicles. Her training involved spacecraft simulations while wearing a pressurised spacesuit, hypoxia awareness training within a hyperbaric chamber and high-G training in an Extra 300L Aerobatic Aircraft. 

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Advancing technology

Alongside her love of space and mathematics, Caoimhe is excited by the ground-breaking scientific advances being made by artificial intelligence and machine learning. Alongside her full-time position at NASA, Caoimhe has completed a machine learning course with Stanford University and a robotics certificate with MIT. She has recently completed the first course within 4-course specialization in reinforcement learning and hopes to use these skills to contribute to the accelerating field of AI. 

Outreach and Volunteering

Recently honoured on the Forbes 30 Under 30 Europe list for Science and Healthcare, Caoimhe is passionate about increasing the scientific literacy of the general public and encourage more young people, especially girls and those from Northern Ireland, to consider scientific careers. She has given many in-person and virtual workshops with schools and summer camps to excite and educate young people.

Caoimhe has been an invited speaker at a number of events, including the Women's Leadership Conference with the Institute of Directors alongside Dame Jane Goodall.

Caoimhe also volunteers at a homework club for refugee children who have relocated in Belfast. She runs GCSE maths classes whilst also offering general support for the children and their families as they adjust to life in Ireland.

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Research

Publications

A New Sedimentation Model for Greater Cloud Diversity in Giant Exoplanets and Brown Dwarfs

C.M. Rooney, N.E. Batalha, P. Gao, M.S. Marley

2022

ApJ. 925.1, 33.

Homogenisation applied to thermal radiation in porous media

C.M. Rooney, C.P. Please, S.D. Howison

2021

Eur. J. Appl. Math., 32.5, 784-805

Dynamics of particle chopping in blenders and food processors

C.M. Rooney, I.M. Griffiths, C. Brunner, J. Potter, M. Wood-Lee, C.P. Please

2018

J. Eng. Math., 112, 119–135

Software contributions

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VIRGA is an open-source Python software for modelling cloud profiles for exoplanets and brown dwarfs and their impact on optical properties.

I extended the capabilities of this cloud-modelling software by relaxing an assumption that a key parameter must remain constant. By allowing variability of this parameter, the model can achieve a plethora of previously unattainable cloud profiles.

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PICASO is an open-source Python software that enables the computation of exoplanet and brown dwarf spectroscopy in transmission, emission or reflected light.

I have been working on increasing the order of approximation of the phase function expansion to allow for more accurate solutions of the radiative transfer equation. This will be implemented in the next release of PICASO.

 
 

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