December Grad Student of the Month: Emily Deibert


Credit: Dunlap Institute.

Emily Deibert is a fifth-year PhD candidate and Vanier Scholar at the University of Toronto specializing in observations of exoplanet atmospheres.

Before beginning her PhD, Emily completed an undergraduate degree in astronomy, English, and mathematics from U of T.

She is also involved in various science writing and communication initiatives.

How did you first become interested in Astronomy and Astrophysics?

I first became interested in astronomy and astrophysics while taking an undergraduate astronomy course for non-science students taught by Profs. Mike Reid and Chris Matzner. The course and professors were really inspiring, and at the end of the semester I decided to undertake an astronomy major alongside my studies in English. Later on in my undergraduate degree, I had the opportunity to pursue astronomy research under the guidance of many wonderful mentors (including Prof. John Percy), which further strengthened my interests in astronomy.

Can you tell us a little bit about your specific field of research?

My PhD thesis focuses on observing the atmospheres of exoplanets, which are planets orbiting stars other than the Sun. I do this using powerful, high-resolution telescopes around the world. By observing exoplanets at different wavelengths of light, we can see the unique chemical fingerprints left by gases in their atmospheres, and use this information to learn more about what these different exoplanets are like.

What’s the most exciting thing about your research?

It’s exciting to study so many different worlds in our Galaxy, including many that have never been observed before! There’s so much that we still don’t know about the thousands of exoplanets we’ve found so far, which means that there’s a lot for us to discover as we observe them.

What do you hope will be your next step, professionally?

I’m in my final year of my PhD right now, so my next steps will be to write up and defend my thesis.

For more Grad Student of the Month profiles, visit:

Credit: Emily Deibert.

The chemical fingerprint of calcium gas in the atmosphere of an ultra-hot exoplanet. Credit: Emily Deibert.


An artist’s impression of a hot Jupiter exoplanet. Credit: ESO.