John M. Brewer

Astronomy, art, biking, cooking, ice cream

Hello, I am John M. Brewer and I completed my PhD in Astronomy at Yale University in June 2016. In my research, I am exploring the relationships between stellar properties and compositions and how those affect the planets that form around them. I am now an Assistant professor at San Francisco State University where I am continuing my investigations into planet formation as well as searching for new, low mass planets with the EXPRES spectrometer as part of the 100 Earth's Project. When I am not combing through stellar spectra, I can be found cooking, making ice cream, taking long bike trips, collaborating on astronomy based artwork, or taking more photographs than I have time to edit.

Below you will find my CV and my list of publications is on a separate page.


Current Position

Assistant Professor, San Francisco State University, August 2019-present; Lead Scientist for EXPRES & 100 Earths Project, July 2021-present


Yale University — New Haven, CT
Ph.D. Astronomy, 2016
Thesis: Messages from the Reversing Layer: Clues to Planet Formation
in Stellar Abundances
Advisors: Dr. Debra Fischer & Dr. Sarbani Basu
M.Phil. & MS in Astronomy, 2012
San Francisco State University — San Francisco, CA
Masters in Physics program 2008-2010, left for PhD program at Yale
New York University — New York, NY
Bachelor of Fine Arts, 1991

Professional Positions

San Francisco State University , Assistant Professor, August 2019 - present
Yale University, Assistant Researcher, August 2018-Sept 2019
American Museum of Natural History, Research Educator, November 2016 - June 2019
Yale University, Post-doctoral Researcher, June 2016-August 2018

Awards & Honors

Brouwer Prize for outstanding PhD thesis, Yale University, 2019
Yale University Wise Fellow, 2015-2016
San Francisco State University Marcy Research Fellowship, 2009-2010

Professional Bio

John Brewer started as an Assistant Professor at San Francisco State University in 2019 where his research group is focusing on the detection and characterization of exoplanets. His most recent work demonstrated the power of Extreme Precision Radial Velocities to uncover previously hidden planetary architectures in well studied systems. As a postdoc, then Associate Researcher at Yale University, Brewer continued his pursuit of accurate and precise stellar abundances to better understand planet formation while designing and developing the software for the EXPRES spectrograph. In 2015 he presented a new spectroscopic analysis procedure that delivers gravities consistent with those from asteroseismology in addition to abundances for 15 elements. Using this, and an updated catalog from Kepler targets in 2018, he was able to show that compact systems of rocky planets make up an increasing number of planetary systems at lower metallicities, that C/O ratios are low in local stars leading the magnesium silicate geology and that hot Jupiters may migrate via disk-free migration, and that initial chemical differences don't account for small planet radius differences. In 2010, Dr. Brewer designed the Planet Hunters citizen science tool and in 2011 built a web interface for the CHIRON spectrograph, drawing on knowledge from his previous career as a software developer and web designer.

Teaching At SFSU

Physics 111 (General Physics I), Astronomy 400/700 (Stellar Astrophysics, mixed Undergraduate & Graduate), Astronomy 405 (Exoplanetary Science), Astronomy 470 (Observational Techniques in Astronomy).

Other Teaching, Mentoring and Outreach

Noche de Estrellas, San Francisco State University, 2022-present
Started Spanish language public outreach program, led by students. Includes science talks, planetarium shows, and rooftop telescope viewing all in both Spanish and English.
Graduate Student Mentor, Yale University, 2018-2020
Lily Zhao and Malena Rice, Spectroscopic properties time series analysis and using machine learning of labels from physical models to analyze large spectroscopic data sets (papers in prep).
DeepAstronomy Hangout, Exoplanets Don't Like Heavy Metals, November 8, 2018
Invited to discuss latest research in video podcast supported by the AAS with the public.
Mentor, American Museum of Natural History, New York, NY, 2017-present
Guiding 3 high school seniors in the Science Research Mentoring Program in modeling pollution by rocky material in stellar photospheres.
Co-Teacher, American Museum of Natural History, New York, NY, 2016-present
Secrets of the Solar System, After School Program for high school students
Undergraduate Mentor, Yale University, 2015-2016
Justin Myles (Yale University), Lithium Abundances in Planet Search Stars (AAS 227 poster, paper in prep)
“Local Systems”, Collaboration with Artist Natalia Porter, 2014
Collaborated on design of astronomy based art works presented in a solo show by the artist Natalia Porter, in Buffalo, NY, August 2014.
“Stellar Tea @ Yale”, Organizer and host, Yale University, 2011-2015
Initiated, organized, and hosted weekly discussion on topics from exoplanets to star formation, to local dwarf galaxies. Included organizing guest speakers from within and outside Yale.
Teaching Fellow, Yale University, 2010-2013
Designed and led weekly discussion sessions, led exam review sessions, developed solution guides and supplemental materials, grading.
“Database Design for Astronomers”, workshop organizer and instructor, Yale, June 2013
Designed, organized and taught workshop on database design and use in astronomy. Included using datbases from within IDL and Python.
“Searching for Other Earths”, outreach talk, Leitner Observatory, Yale, Februrary 2013
“Around a Distant Star”, outreach talk, Leitner Observatory, Yale, April 2011
“Getting to Know the Neighbors”, outreach talk, North Salinas High School, Salinas, CA, May 2010

Student Advisees

Current Graduate Students
Shvetha Suvarna Chynoweth, SFSU, M.S. Astronomy expected May 2025, Project: Automated Keplerian Fitting using Machine Learning
Kameron Gausling, SFSU, M.S. Astronomy expected May 2024, Project: Quantifying Macroturbulence using EXPRES Spectra for F, G, K, and M Dwarfs
Claire Komori, SFSU, M.S. Astronomy expected May 2024, Project: The effects of Sun Spots on Spectral Line Shapes
Edward Ash, SFSU, M.S. Astronomy expected Dec 2023, Project: Long Term Stability of Eccentricity in Tightly Packed Systems via Eccentricity Pumping
Elena Fader, SFSU, Calbridge Scholar, M.S. Physics/Astro expected Dec 2023, Project: Effects of Spectral Resolution on RV Precision
Alan Chew, SFSU, M.S. Physics/Astro expected Dec 2023, Project: Installation and Commissioning of Echelle Spectrograph at Leuschner Observatory
Current Undergraduate Students
Sergio Lopez, SFSU, B.S. Physics/Astro expected May 2024, Projects: Noche de Estrellas organizer/planetarium presenter; Spectral abundances of new planet hosts