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Interview with Jingyi Mah

  • What’s your name? Where are you from?

My name is Jingyi Mah. I am from Malaysia.

  • What institution do you work for?

I work for the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Germany.

  • What was your professional career? What did you study in college/university?

I majored in Physics during undergraduate and then moved on to Astrophysics and Planetary Science during graduate school.

  • How did you arrive at exoplanet research?

When I was searching for a suitable research topic for my masters thesis, I came across a paper about an M dwarf star called TRAPPIST-1 that hosts 7 Earth-sized planets. Finding this exoplanet system extremely intriguing, I decided to study its long-term stability and possible formation pathway.

  • What scientific questions do you seek to answer?

How does the water content in protoplanetary discs affect the outcome of planet formation?
What role does the chemical abundance of the host star play in determining the bulk composition of planets?

  • What methods do you use for that?

I run simulations of planet formation models to see if the outcome matches the observations.

  • Why are you excited about specifically your research topic?

New observations of exoplanets and discs continue to challenge current planet formation theories. Existing models would need to be revised in light of new discoveries.

  • How is your research topic integrated into the greater (scientific) context? Where do you see connections between your topic and other scientific fields?

The fields of planet formation is strongly linked to observations of protoplanetary discs — a good understanding of protoplanetary discs provides the base on which planet formation models are built.

  • Which offers from the SPP-1992 (Conferences, training, networking, lecture series, etc.) did you make use of?

I attended a summer school in 2022 on the topic of numerical methods in Astrophysics.

  • In what way did the SPP-1992 support you and your research?

I was able to get to know fellow scientists working on different aspects of planet formation at a summer school organised by the SPP-1992.

  • Can you speculate what new insights into your research area we might have in ten years’ time?

We might have comprehensive and high-precision information about the chemical composition of protoplanetary discs and the atmospheres of planets. Planet formation models might then be powerful enough to simulate the whole formation process of a planet – from dust particles to full-sized planet – and predict its possible composition.

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