Welcome to my website

Keighley E. Rockcliffe

Adventure is out there

AU mic b press release: read, listen

About Me (she/her)

I am a PhD candidate at Dartmouth College studying exoplanet atmospheres with Dr. Elisabeth Newton. We are up in the Upper Valley area of New Hampshire - a great place to experience autumn vibes, make friends with neighborhood dogs, and see the Milky Way.


I love connecting with people who are interested in astronomy research, STEM outreach, and JEDI and mental health support. I'm also always open to talk about nerd stuff (e.g., Star Wars, Marvel, anime, sci-fi & fantasy books, etc)!

Broad Research Interests

Atmospheric Escape

Atmospheric escape is an evolutionary mass loss process thought to shape the majority of exoplanets. It's pertinent to learn more about its small- and large-scale impacts.

Cool Star Spectra

~70% of the stars in the Milky Way are cool red dwarfs, which makes them important to study. Characterizing their radiative output helps us understand the environments that exoplanets live in.

Exoplanet Demographics

What is the landscape of the exoplanet population? Which planets are rare and which are common? How do we - on Earth - fit into the bigger picture? Are we alone or do we have company?

Current Projects

Video made by John McCann. (McCann+19)

Figure 5 from Rockcliffe+21


We searched for and could not observe atmospheric escape on K2-25b - a young, hot Neptune. We think the hydrogen mass loss is still happening, but the hydrogen is photoionized too quickly to be observed in transmission.

Figure 8 from Rockcliffe+23

AU Mic b

Similar to K2-25b, we looked for atmospheric escape on the infamous AU Mic b. Between two transits of the planet, we saw its mass loss go from completely unobservable to observable. This is rare and warrants further investigation!

Modeling Atmospheric Escape

With Dr. Hans Müller, we aim to model escaping atmospheres. This will help our understanding of previously observed systems and inform our future observations.


Important Note: I have failed more than I have succeeded and that has made me a better scientist and, more importantly, a better person.


B.S. in Physics

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Fall '13 - Spring ‘16

M.S. in Physics

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Fall '16 - Spring ‘17

M.S. in Astronomy

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Fall '17 - Spring ‘18

Ph.D. in Physics and Astronomy

Dartmouth College

Fall '18 - Present

Proposals (as PI)

HST Cycle 30, 14 orbits

HST Cycle 31, 20 orbits


Some of my favorite experiences have come from the outreach and community work I’ve done!

Dept GEnder Minorities in STEM Co-Organizer (Fall ‘23 - Present)

Letters to a Pre-Scientist Pen-Pal (Fall '23 - Present)

Astrobites Author & Social Manager (Jan '23 - Present)

Dept Grad Assembly Rep (June '23 - Present)

Dept DEI Grad Rep (Aug '20 - May ‘23)

AIP TEAM-UP Participant (2021 - May ‘23)

Grad Student Council President (May '21 - May '22)

Grad Student Council Comm Chair (May '20 - May '21)

Dartmouth ManyMentors Grad Director (Dec '18 - Feb '20)

Grad Student Council Rep (Aug '18 - May '20)

Some Instagram reels I’ve made for @Astrobites!

Social Justice & Mental Health

BIPOC, women, and people of all mental and physical abilities BELONG in STEM!

Within Dartmouth


  1. Helped develop a plan for more affordable housing and transportation.
  2. Successfully advocated for grad student stipend and financial aid increases.
  3. Advocated for trained grad student accessibility support.
  4. Helped reinstate a college Ombudsperson.
  5. Helped start a Wellness Coaching program.
  6. Worked with Guarini to institute CIMER power dynamics training for faculty.
  7. Organized and ran Mental Health Month.
  8. Created and distributed the Resource Guide.

Within DEpartment


I've been working with faculty to create and institute action items that will improve climate and increase our support of BIPOC students. Our efforts are informed by the AIP TEAM-UP report and workshop(s). I'm advocating for and organizing a regular seminar on JEDI topics. We have facilitated several discussions regarding the existing climate we work in. I wrote an expectations document to clarify the advisor-advisee relationship and universally define appropriate boundaries between graduate student work and life. I continue to work with and push faculty to better the student experience.

Within research group


Dr. Newton's research group regularly incorporates discussion of JEDI topics into our research group interactions. We confront that the fact that there are many intersecting social factors - race, gender, sexuality, religion, and more - that impact how an individual or a group moves through physics and astronomy. We listen to the voices and data shown by those who are oppressed within our field, and we recognize that we continue to grow into our role of making physics and astronomy accessible to and inclusive of everyone.

And my cat, Nova

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Dartmouth Office

Room 224, Wilder Hall

Hanover, NH 03755


Contact Info