William is a PhD student, freelance science journalist, and author. They use the Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI), the Hubble Space Telescope (HST), and the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) to study planets in other solar systems. They are a Ph.D candidate in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD (Piscataway land). They were NASA’s Maryland Space Grant Observatory Fellow for the 2022-2023 academic year. This static site hosts William’s CV and links to their peer-reviewed articles and presentations. You can read an informal description of their research, peruse various blog posts, and more on their personal website. Last updated 2023/08/20.

  • Optical interferometry 💫
  • High contrast imaging 🌟
  • Self-luminous giant planets 🪐
  • Atmospheric retrievals ☁️
  • Accretion & accretion variability ☄️
  • Graduate (Ph.D.) student in Astronomy, 2021-present

    Johns Hopkins University

  • Bachelors of Arts cum laude in Astronomy and in Physics, 2017-2021

    Amherst College

Selected Publications

This is only a selection of my published work. You can find my full list of publications on the The SAO/NASA Astrophysics Data System, here for 1st author, here, for 2nd author, and here, for Nth author. Last updated 2023/08/20.

(2022). Direct Discovery of the Inner Exoplanet in the HD206893 System . Astronomy and Astrophysics.

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(2022). Improved Orbital Constraints and Hα Photometric Monitoring of the Directly Imaged Protoplanet Analog HD 142527 B. The Astronomical Journal.

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Research Presentations

Selected invited talks or conference proceedings. Where possible I’ve included links to slides or posters associated with my presentations. Last updated 8/20/2023

The Unexpected Detection of HR 8799 e [with JWST] and Implications for Cycle 3” STScI Spring Symposium, May 18th, 2023

“Optical Interferometry of Exoplanets & Brown Dwarfs” American Museum of Natural History Astrophysics Colloqium, February 14th, 2023

Optical Interferometry of Exoplanets & Brown Dwarfs” STScI HotSci Talk Series, August 17th, 2022

Unprecedented precision: using VLTI/GRAVITY jointly with Gaia to characterize substellar companions near and far, young and old” Cool Stars 21 (talk), July 2022, Toulouse

The orbit and Hα variability of HD 142527B” Cool Stars 21 (poster), July 2022, Toulouse


The orbit and Hα variability of HD 142527B” STScI Spring Symposium, April 19th-24th, 2021

Outreach & Service

Outreach Activites

Observatory Fellow, Maryland Space Grant Consortium | September 2022 - May 2023

Volunteer, Maryland Space Grant Observatory | May 2023 - present

Volunteer, Youth in Engineering and Astronomy, STScI | October 2022 - present

Author, Astrobites, the astro-ph reader’s digest | December 2021 - present

Author, personal blog | June 2018 – present

Astronomy Editor, Amherst STEM Network | October 2019 – May 2021

Public Talks

“How to take pictures of planets in other solar systems” North County High School, June 2023

Directly Imaging Exoplanets, determining their orbits and atmospheres” Howard Astronomical League, June 16th, 2022

The Growth of Young Stars and Protoplanets!” Balticon 56, May 27th, 2022

Adolescent astronomy: Planet formation, Direct imaging, and early-career astronomy research” UMass Astronomy Club, April 20th, 2021

In the Press

Articles I’ve written or been interviewed for. Last updated 10/14/2022.

JWST’s carbon dioxide discovery is good news for Earth-like worlds” by William Balmer for The Planetary Society, Sep 27, 2022

Fly-bye, Baby: a review of the impact of stellar flybys on protoplanetary disks” by William Balmer for Astrobites, Aug 23, 2022

What might JWST reveal about TRAPPIST-1?” by William Balmer for The Planetary Society, June 9th, 2022.

Flipping the table: inferring planet formation from atmospheric composition” by William Balmer for Astrobites, May 6th, 2022.

Herald of the Change: A microlensing Jupiter-analogue spotted in K2 data portends Roman’s yield of new planets” by William Balmer for Astrobites, April 11th, 2022.

Peek-a-boo! Forming Moons Revealed Around a Baby Planet” by William Balmer for Astrobites, February 9th, 2022.

Reaching for the Stars: William Balmer Thesis Spotlight” by Sarah Lapean in The Amherst STEM Network on May 14th, 2021.

The Orbit and Growth of HD 142527B” by William Balmer for Astrobites, March 14th, 2021.

Planetary cradles: UMass/FCAD colloquium speaker Feng Long presents ALMA view of early solar systems” by William Balmer in The Amherst STEM Network Magazine, Issue 1.3, Fall 2020.

Astronomy Summer Research Teams takes Physics Colloquia by Storm1 by William Balmer in The Amherst STEM Network Magazine, Issue 1.3, Fall 2020.

Thoughts on Thesis: William Balmer ’21” by Maxim Melnichuk for The Amherst Student on September 23rd, 2020.

What makes a planet? Daniela Bardalez Gagliuffi seeks answers in the lowest mass stars” by William Balmer in The Amherst STEM Network Magazine, Issue 1.1, Spring 2020.

  1. Series of multiple articles. ↩︎