Charlotte Minsky

I study (exo)planets and history.

I am a senior at MIT studying planetary science, history, and a smidgen of computer science. My planetary science research focuses on extrasolar planets and their atmospheres, and my history research focuses on the late modern history of science and its relationship to structures of oppression. Next year, I will be pursuing an MPhil in History and Philosophy of Science as a Gates Cambridge scholar at Cambridge University, and in 2021 I will return to the other Cambridge to pursue a PhD in Earth and Planetary Sciences at Harvard University. In my free time, I listen to podcasts, play various musical instruments, and try to spend time with trees.

Updated April 2020

Astronomy & Planetary Science

I am majoring in Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences with a concentration in Planetary Science & Astronomy. I'm interested in planets and atmospheres and small bodies of all Solar Systems, but especially ones ⪆150 AUs away.

Current Projects
  • My main research is working with with Andrew Ridden-Harper, Jake Turner, Ernst de Mooij, and Ray Jayawardhana on trying to use radial velocity data to look at broadband features in exoplanet atmosphere transmission spectra. This project started as an REU at Cornell and is now my MIT senior thesis!
  • I occasionally vet Target of Interest light curves for the NASA/MIT TESS mission, which looks for exoplanets around the closest, brightest stars.
Previous Projects
  • I worked with Julien de Wit and Prajwal Niraula in 2019 on assessing biases in the exoplanet atmosphere retrieval process.
  • I got started in planetary science/astronomy in 2017-2018 working with Mary Knapp and Ben Weiss on looking for radio signatures from Planet 9 in archival data (spoiler: we did not find Planet 9).


I am also pursuing a joint major in History and Computer Science (not History of Computer Science, although that's also pretty cool too). I started in the history of the Middle East in the 20th century, and then slowly realized that colonialism and structures of oppression are things that science is also embedded in, and now I find myself doing history of science/tech.

Current Projects
  • My (second) senior thesis is on the siting of the first permanent mountaintop observatory, the contexts of settler-colonial violence and scientific professionalization in which that history is situated, and some other related things about land use.
Previous Projects
  • I helped edit a book! It's called Contesting the Iranian Revolution: The Green Uprisings, it's by Pouya Alimagham, it's about the 2009 Green Uprisings in Iran, it's going to be available very soon here, and you should all read it because it is very cool and I am very excited.
  • I was one of the students in the first iteration of the MIT and Slavery project in 2018-2019, and I researched MIT's relationship to the border states and southern Reconstruction economy. You can learn more here.
  • I was also a project manager in 2018 at the MIT Digital Humanities Lab and worked on analyzing gendered language in English novels.

Other Activities

I also love teaching, outreach, advocacy, and various community organizations I'm involved with. Right now, a lot of my time is spent on shared governance at MIT, as:

In the past, I've also been involved with teaching and educational outreach, including a couple roles related to educational access for incarcerated individuals, which is something that's important to me:

And I've done some other fun things at MIT:

CV & Contact

You can download a PDF of my CV here. Last updated 05/30/2019.


Social Media: LinkedIn (used rarely), Twitter (used frequently and often sarcastically), GitHub (it's social media if you try hard enough)