Pickett receives NASA grant

Katie Buchanan

Associate Professor of Physics Megan Pickett was awarded a $105,000 three-year research grant by the NASA Planetary Geology and Geophysics Program, her fourth research grant supported by NASA since 1997.
With her newest grant, Pickett plans on continuing her research on the evolution of Jupiter and how Jupiter can be used as a model in understanding how other large planets are formed, a topic she’s been researching for the past 10 years.
“I’m using computer simulations to examine how the solar system was formed,” said Pickett. “With the new grant, I can add more realism to these simulations, buy more equipment and go to conferences on astrophysics.”
Her goals for the future include “making these simulations more representative of the environment of the early solar system. Because of the faster, more powerful computers available today, we can include so much more physics and chemistry that will help create a more realistic simulation.”
Pickett’s NASA grant will also support a student research assistant. Pickett stated that she was extremely excited about being able to work with students and wants “as many students as I can get.”
For the future, says Pickett, “I’m hoping to increase the budget for more student assistants as well as working with students over the school year on capstone projects.”
Following her career as a postdoctoral research associate at the NASA Ames Research Center and seven years teaching physics and astronomy at Purdue University Calumet, Pickett joined the Lawrence faculty in fall 2006.