Eve J. Lee

Hello! I'm a Sherman Fairchild Postdoctoral Scholar in Theoretical Physics at Caltech. I work on a range of subjects under the umbrella of planet formation. Starting Aug 2019, I will be joining the Department of Physics at McGill University as an assistant professor. Students and postdocs interested in theoretical studies of planet formation are encouraged to contact me at evelee-at-physics-dot-mcgill-dot-ca!

Short Bio

I obtained Hon. BSc. with high distinction in Astronomy and Physics at the University of Toronto, Canada. As an undergraduate student, I was fortunate to be able to work with many different advisers on a large variety of projects including the identification of substellar objects in nearby young clusters, quantification of galaxy morphology, and the analysis of synthetic observations of protostellar outflows. I completed my honours thesis with Norm Murray on "Milky Way Star Forming Complexes and Their Input to the Turbulent Motion of the Inner Galaxy Molecular Gas".

Once I arrived at UC Berkeley for graduate studies, I decided to switch gear and work on planet formation. It was (and still is) a great time to think about planets with a deluge of data from the Kepler spacecraft waiting to be explained. I received my PhD in the spring of 2017 under the supervision of Eugene Chiang. My thesis is titled "The Late-Time Formation and Dynamical Signatures of Small Planets". As of September 2017, I am a Sherman Fairchild Postdoctoral Scholar in Theoretical Physics at Caltech. In the summer of 2019, I will be moving back to the North-East side of the continent to join the Department of Physics at McGill University as an assistant professor!


I am a theoretical astrophysicist motivated by observational puzzles related to planets and stars. My research aims to uncover the origin of diversity in planetary systems: to understand what we have observed and to predict what we may discover through future missions. Specific topics of interest include (but not limited to) the origin of planetary atmospheres, the orbital architecture of planetary systems, star-disk-planet interaction, and the dynamics of debris disks. See below to learn in more detail about my research!

Short and Ultra-short Period Planets

Why are planets increasingly rare close (within 0.1 AU) to the star and how did ultra-short period (less than 1 day) planets get to where they are now? We answer these questions using disk truncation by stellar magnetosphere and the tidal interaction between the star and the planet.

Breeding super-Earths and super-puffs

Super-Earths appear to dominate the total planetary demographics. Measured radii and masses suggest that they have just a few % by mass atmosphere. Why does nature prefer planets with this moderate amount of gas? We suggest the properties of the inner super-Earths can be naturally explained if they are born during the late stages of disk evolution.

Unifying debris disk morphology

Scattered light images of debris disks in the optical and the infrared wavelenghts reveal a wide variety of shapes. We show how these varying morphologies can be unified under secular perturbation by a planet yet-to-be discovered, viewed at different observing angles.

Dynamic Star Formation

Star formation is a slow process on the galactic scale, converting just 2% of the gas mass into stars in the disk dynamical time. Is star formation universally slow even at the scale of giant molecular clouds? We show that the answer is no. The star formation efficiency varies by orders of magnitude at these smaller scales. Such broad distribution can be explained if the rate at which gas is converted to star varies with time within each cloud.


Interested in studying theories of planet and star formation? Contact me at evelee@physics.mcgill.ca!

Current students