Evans, Alexander J

Assistant Professor


Alex is interested in understanding the evolutionary, tectonic, geodynamic, and geophysical processes of solid planets. His work includes analyses of altimetry, gravity, geomorphology, and tectonics to determine the structure, surface, and internal evolution of solid planets. Alex is also interested in understanding the evolution of early life on Earth. Thus far, his research has focused on the investigation of the Earth, Moon, Mercury and Mars. Additionally, he has also been involved in the design, development, and implementation of planetary exploration missions.

Year 3

Bjonnes, Emily E

Graduate Student

Research Advisor(s): Professor Brandon C. Johnson (Purdue University)
emily_bjonnes [a]

Em is interested in the evolution of planetary surfaces across our solar system and how surface processes differ between icy and rocky surfaces. Their research utilizes numerical models of high-velocity impacts as a way to test hypotheses of projectile and target properties, and then using the results to understand the geologic histories of those bodies. Although their current research is focused on icy moons in the outer solar system, they have done projects on Venus and the Moon as well. Em also enjoys exploring New England with their dog, Mr Pibb, and eternally aspiring to play the guitar.

Year 2

Jones, Matthew J

Graduate Student

Research Advisor(s): Professor Alexander J. Evans
matthew_jones [a]

Matt’s research focuses on the formation and evolution of planetary bodies, especially terrestrial planets. He is interested in using numerical modeling to understand the large-scale geodynamic, thermochemical, and crustal evolution of planets so that we may better understand the history of bodies in our own solar system as well as what we can expect to see in other systems. Currently, Matt is investigating the distribution of lunar crustal terranes that we observe today, supplementing finite element modeling with the perspective provided by lunar gravity, topography, and composition data.

Year 1

Nichols-Fleming, Fiona

Graduate Student

Research Advisor(s): Professors Alexander J. Evans and Brandon C. Johnson (Purdue University)
fiona_nichols-fleming [a]

Fiona is interested in the relationships between interior and surface processes of solar system bodies. She hopes to study some of the bizarre geophysical processes observed in our solar system and use numerical methods to better understand and explain them. Her current research is working to explain the high intensity of the early Lunar magnetic field assuming it is caused by an intermittent dynamo rather than a very powerful long-term dynamo.

PhD 2015

Weller, Matthew B

Postdoctoral Research Associate

Research Advisor(s): Professors Alexander J. Evans and Alexandria V. Johnson (Purdue University)
matthew_weller [a]

Matt is interested in understanding the processes and physics that govern the dynamics and evolution of the deep interior and surface of planetary bodies. Specifically, he seeks to understand how the deep interior and surface link to generate planetary atmospheres, control surface conditions, tectonics, interior evolution, and how this coupling may allow for the potential of habitability over time. To date, his research has focused on the investigation of Olympus Mons on Mars, the evolution of the tectonic state of the Earth and Venus, insolation driven convection and failure of the ice shells of the outer satellites, habitability potentials of non plate tectonic planets, fundamental physics and dynamics of convective systems, and understanding processes that act to reinforce or prevent plate tectonics on planetary bodies. When not working, you will find him doing other things, in other places.

Year 4

Wiggins, Sean E

Graduate Student

Research Advisor(s): Professor Brandon Johnson (Purdue University)
sean_wiggins [a]

Sean Wiggins is a graduate student at Brown, who is primarily focused on the computational modeling of physical phenomena of high velocity collisions. In addition, Sean is interested in icy body processes as well as planetary body evolution – from disk particles to the planets we recognize today. When not working, Sean enjoys woodworking, hiking, canning, candle-making, and brewing

Year 2

Wilner, Joel A

Graduate Student

Research Advisor(s): Professor Alexander J. Evans
joel_wilner [a]

Joel studies the evolution of planetary topography from local to global scales. This work encapsulates surface-interior geodynamic couplings, planetary geomorphology, physical volcanology, and planetary geochronology. Topics of specific interest include the landscapes of icy moons and other potentially habitable environments. Anticipated investigatory modes include analysis of spacecraft-derived gravity and altimetry data, finite element modeling, and terrestrial analog field work. Joel is also interested in quantifying polar processes related to terrestrial climate change, including periglacial geomorphology and glacier hydrology.


Former Members of the Lab

Walker, Malik

Undergraduate Student (Summer 2019)


Zuckermann, Anna

Undergraduate Student (Spring 2019)