About Us

Jacob (Jake) B. Simon

I am an Assistant Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. My primary research focus is on planet formation. My group and I are using sophisticated computer simulations run on some of the largest supercomputers in the US, and we are also closely collaborating with observers to test our theoretical models.

I also maintain a strong interest in how hot gas orbiting nature's most mysterious objects (black holes) spiral into these objects, releasing tremendous radiation as it does so.

Postdoctoral Researchers and Research Scientists

Daniel Carrera

Daniel joined the group in the Fall of 2019, arriving from Penn State Unviersity, where he was a NASA Postdoctoral Fellow. He was a postdoc in my group until Fall 2023, at which point he was promoted to Research Scientist. He is investigating the formation of planetesimals in high gas pressure regions ("pressure bumps") thought to be present in planet-forming disks.

He is also mentoring graduate student Abigail Davenport on a study of particle growth in very young, massive planet-forming disks.

Graduate Students

David Rea

David joined the group in the Spring of 2020 and is running numerical simulations of the inner 1-10 AU of planet-forming disks in order to investigate the nature and structure of magnetically driven turbulence there and the implications for the earliest stages of planet formation.

Jeonghoon (Jay) Lim

Jay joined the group in Fall of 2020.  He is carrying out numerical simulations of planetesimal formation via the streaming instability in the presence of externally driven gas turbulence.  He is addressing critical questions related to where planetesimal formation occurs in planet-forming disks and how efficient it is in the presence of turbulence.

Abigail Davenport

Abigail recently joined the group this past Fall (2022). She is working with postdoc Daniel Carrera to understand the structure and evolution of very young (Class 0/I) protostellar disks and how this structure/evolution influences particle growth.  Her work will test the earliest stages of planet formation and whether or not planet formation can begin at the Class 0/I phase.

Weston Hall

Weston joined the group in Fall 2023.  He will be investigating the initial mass function of planetesimals formed via the streaming instability by carrying out large-scale 3D numerical simulations on national-level supercomputers. 

We are very excited to have him join the group!

Undergraduate Students

Olivia Brouillette

Olivia is a post-bachelor researcher in the group (she graduated at the end of Fall 2023).  Since joining the group in Fall of 2022, she has been working with David Rea and Jay Lim to carry out extremely high resolution, long time-scale simulations of the streaming instability to quantify the precise critical dust-to-gas ratio needed to activate the streaming instability. 

Former Group Members

Matthew Small

Matt was a member of the Simon Research Group from Fall 2019 to Spring 2022, after which he graduated with a masters degree.  He carried out statistical analyses on the initial mass function of planetesimals produced from simulations of the streaming instability.  

Sayantan Auddy

Sayantan was a postdoc in the group from Fall 2020 to Summer 2022. When he was here, he worked on a number of projects, including the nature of magnetically driven winds in planet-forming disks. He also collaborated with us to develop a machine learning tool to quantify the properties of embedded planets from observations of dust rings in protoplanetary disks.

Andrew (Drew) Thomas

Drew was an undergraduate in the group from Fall 2019 to Summer 2021. While here, he worked closely with postdoc Daniel Carrera to study the formation of planetesimals in gaseous pressure bumps. This work led to a paper with Drew as second author (Carrera, Thomas, et al. 2022).