Dr. Adam Jensen

Assistant Professor

Office: BHS 217   |    Phone: (308) 865-8878   |    Email: jensenag@unk.edu

Dr. Adam Jensen

Biography

I was interested in science from a very young age, and I remembering checking out library books on topics ranging from paleontology to zoology to chemistry to astronomy. However, astronomy was the interest that ultimately stuck, and I decided to pursue it as a career first by attending the University of Nebraska-Omaha to get degrees in Physics and Computer Science. From there, I got my Ph.D. in Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences at the University of Colorado-Boulder in 2007. I did postdoctoral positions at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center (through the NASA Postdoctoral Program and the University of Maryland) and Wesleyan University (in Middletown, CT) before spending a year as a lecturer at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The research I did for my Ph.D. thesis and in my first postdoc dealt with the atomic gas-phase abundances in the interstellar medium, and trying to understand how these abundances change as the environment becomes denser and dustier. My move to Wesleyan in 2010 signaled a shift in my research to the atmospheres of exoplanets. You can read more about my research under the "Research Interests" tab.

On the personal side, I am married with three children. I enjoy playing a variety of instruments (but especially electric bass and electric guitar), my favorite movies are generally sci-fi blockbusters and comic book movies (despite their often questionable science content), and hope that I will get to see a Kansas City Chiefs Superbowl Championship in my lifetime.


Research Interests

It's somewhat simpler to define how I do research than what I research. I am an absorption spectroscopist, meaning I study the spectra of astronomical objects, examining absorption lines caused by intervening material. Spectroscopy in general, and particularly spectroscopy of atomic gas-phase material, provides a "fingerprint" of chemical composition and indicates temperature, motion, etc. I study two very different types of "intervening material": the interstellar medium and exoplanetary atmospheres. I studied the ISM for my Ph.D. and in my first postdoctoral position; beginning with my second postdoctoral position, I have focused more on exoplanetary atmospheres, although both are part of my ongoing projects.

The interstellar medium, or ISM, is the gas and dust in between stars; denser regions form visible nebulae, and stars are both formed from and return to the ISM in a process of Galactic recycling. There are still many interesting problems in understanding the ISM, including the carrier particles of some strong absorption features and the chemistry and physics of the "translucent ISM," a transition phase between the atomic gas-dominated diffuse ISM and the molecular-dominated dense regions (such as where stars form).


Abridged CV

Professional Positions

  • Assistant Professor, University of Nebraska-Kearney, Department of Physics & Physical Science, 2014-present
  • Lecturer, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Department of Physics & Astronomy, 2013-2014
  • Postdoctoral Scholar, Wesleyan University, Astronomy Department, 2010-2013
  • Visiting Assistant Professor, Wesleyan University, Astronomy Department, 2012
  • Postdoctoral Researcher, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/University of Maryland, 2009-2010
  • NASA Postdoctoral Program Fellow, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/ORAU, 2007-2009
  • Adjunct Instructor, Front Range Community College, 2005-2006
  • Graduate Student Instructor, University of Colorado-Boulder, 2005-2006

Education

  • Ph.D., Astrophysical & Planetary Sciences, University of Colorado-Boulder, 2007
  • M.Sc., Astrophysical & Planetary Sciences, University of Colorado-Boulder, 2004
  • B.Sc., Physics (Minor: Mathematics), University of Nebraska-Omaha, 2001
  • B.Sc., Computer Science, University of Nebraska-Omaha, 2001