MIT EAPS Directory

Clara Sousa-Silva

Research Scientist

Clara Sousa-Silva, a molecular astrophysicist, uses quantum physics and computer simulations to figure out what molecules look like when they interact with light. She then uses these molecular fingerprints to deduce what the composition of any atmosphere is, be it on Earth or elsewhere in the galaxy. In her words, "Light from an atmosphere can tell us so much - whether we are seeing pollution, oceans or even life. But without knowing what each meaningful molecule looks like, that light is indecipherable. That's why my work is crucial if we want to understand alien worlds, and eventually detect a new Earth."

In September 2016 Clara joined MIT as a post-doc in the EAPS department working with Sara Seager. Before Clara came to MIT she was the Educational Co-ordinator for the Twinkle Space Mission where she founded EduTwinkle, the mission's educational program. As part of EduTwinkle, Clara started the ORBYTS program (Original Research By Young Twinkle Students), where high school students work along scientists to produce original research associated with space exploration. The first three associated articles have now been published (see below) with nine of the kids as co-authors.

Download Clara's full CV HERE


Chubb, K.L., Joseph, M., Franklin, J., Choudhury, N., Furtenbacher, T., Császár, A.G., Gaspard, G., Oguoko, P., Kelly, A., Yurchenko, S.N. and Tennyson, J., MARVEL analysis of the measured high-resolution rovibrational spectra of C2H2. Journal of Quantitative Spectroscopy and Radiative Transfer, 204, 42-55. (2018)

Sousa-Silva, C., McKemmish, L.K., Chubb, K.L., Baker, J., Barton, E.J., Gorman, M.N., Rivlin, T. and Tennyson, J., Original Research By Young Twinkle Students (ORBYTS): When can students start performing original research. Phys. Educ. (2017)

LK McKemmish, T Masseron, S Sheppard, E Sandeman, Z Schofield, T Furtenbacher, A G Császár, J Tennyson, and C Sousa-Silva, MARVEL Analysis of the Measured High-resolution Rovibronic Spectra of 48Ti16O, The Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series 228, 15 (2017)

C Sousa-Silva, J Tennyson and S N Yurchenko, Tunnelling Splitting in the Phosphine Molecule, Journal of Chemical Physics, 145, 091102 (2016)

J Tennyson, S N Yurchenko, A F Al-Refaie, E J Barton, K Chubb, P J Coles, S Diaman- topoulou, M Gorman, C Hill, L Lodi, L K McKemmish, Y Na, O L Polyansky, C Sousa-Silva, D S Underwood, A Yachmenev and E Zak, The ExoMol Database: Molecular Line Lists for Exoplanet and Other Hot Atmospheres, Journal of Molecular Spectroscopy, 327, 73-94 (2015)

C Sousa-Silva, A F Al-Refaie, J Tennyson, S N Yurchenko, ExoMol line lists – VII: The Rotation-vibration Spectrum of Phosphine up to 1500K, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 446, 2337-2347, (2015)

C Sousa-Silva, N Hesketh, S N Yurchenko and J Tennyson, High Temperature Partition Functions and Thermodynamic Data for Phosphine and Ammonia, Journal of Quantitive Spectroscopy and Radiative Transfer, 142, 66-74 (2014)

C Sousa-Silva, S N Yurchenko and J Tennyson, A Computed Room Temperature Line List for Phosphine, Journal of Molecular Spectroscopy, 288, 28-37 (2013)

C Sousa-Silva, G Veryasov, E Goreshnik, M Ponikvar and A Jesih, Crystal Structure and Vibrational Spectra of Hydrazinium (+1) Fluorocadmate, Monatshefte fur Chemie-Chemical Monthly, 144 (10), 1455-1459 (2013)