Space Telescope Science Institute
Dust plays an important role in the formation of new stars and planets. My research focus is on the origin of this dust, particularly on the role played by evolved stars. As stars age, they can go through the Asymptotic Giant Branch phase, where they have the potential to produce huge quantities of dust.
The James Webb Space Telescope is Hubble's successor and is expected to launch in 2019. Its primary mirror is about 7x larger than Hubble's mirror, and its instruments are sensitive to the infrared light produced by cosmic dust. These features will allow JWST to see further into Universe than ever before.
I am the PI of a large Spitzer Space Telescope program called DUST in Nearby Galaxies with Spitzer, or DUSTiNGS, which surveyed 50 nearby dwarf galaxies to search for the dustiest stars. Preliminary results are in and show that dust may form very early on in history of our Universe.