Spotlight on New Faculty

Helen Hill
Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Planetary scientist Hilke Schlichting and geophysicist Germán Prieto accept assistant professorships, to begin in summer 2013.

Hilke Schlichting

Hilke Schlichting's research interests are wide-ranging, spanning all aspects of planet formation theory, extrasolar planets, and solar system dynamics.

Recent work has concerned the study of small objects in the Kuiper belt using archival data taken by the Fine Guidance Sensors on board of the Hubble Space Telescope. Sub-kilometer-sized Kuiper belt objects (KBOs) are too faint to be discovered in reflected light, but the signature of their occultations of background stars can be detected (Schlichting et al. 2009). By determining the abundance and spatial distribution of sub-kilometer-sized KBOs, Schlichting and co-workers expect to be able to probe their collisional and dynamical evolution as well as their material properties. These small KBOs provide a link between our Kuiper Belt and the dust producing debris disks observed around other stars.

Schlichting earned her undergraduate degree at Cambridge University in England and her doctorate from Caltech where she was advised by Re'em Sari.  She is currently completing a postdoctoral fellowship at UCLA pending the move east next summer when she will join the EAPS faculty as an asistant professor of planetary science. You can find out more about Schlichting's work in this video from the UCLA Institute for Planets and Exoplanets. watch

Germán Prieto

Germán Prieto's main interest is in the use of seismic records to understand earthquake sources, the interior of the Earth, and how each affects the ground motions that we feel on the Earth's surface.

Seismological observations are affected by the internal structure of the Earth, for example amplification of seismic waves in sedimentary basins. The nature of the earthquake source also has a significant impact on ground motions, and Prieto is interested in a better understanding of earthquake ruptures, i.e., are large earthquakes different from the more common small ones?

A particular interest is whether the earthquake process is self-similar, i.e. is an M = 8.0 earthquake simply an M = 2.0 earthquake scaled by a large factor or is the physics of the two processes different?

After receiving his bachelor degree in geology from the Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Prieto obtained his doctorate in earth sciences from Scripps (UC San Diego). Since 2009 Prieto has been an assistant professor in the physics department at the Universidad de los Andes. He joins EAPS as an assistant professor of geophysics in summer 2013.

Links & Media

Planetary scientist Hilke Schlichting is interested in planet formation theory, extrasolar planets, and solar system dynamics.

Geophysicist Germán Prieto uses seismic records to understand earthquake sources, the interior of the Earth, and how each affects the ground motions felt on the surface.