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Faculty Profiles

Manasvi Lingam

Assistant Professor of Astrobiology, Aerospace, Physics and Space Sciences

Personal Overview

After completing my undergraduate degree at the Indian Institute of Technology -  Bombay, I moved to The University of Texas at Austin, where I obtained my Ph.D. in Physics. Afterwards, I undertook postdoctoral stints at Princeton University, Harvard University and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. I am currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Aerospace, Physics and Space Sciences at the Florida Institute of Technology.

 

My research interests are situated primarily within the transdisciplinary area of astrobiology. As a theorist, my research is mostly oriented towards: (a) exploring the multiple factors that regulate the habitability of planets and moons within and outside the Solar system, and (b) identifying potential signatures of extraterrestrial life that might be detectable by forthcoming observations. For instance, I have worked on determining how the available fluxes of nutrients and energy may dictate the productivity of putative biospheres and detectability of biosignatures on a wide variety of worlds ranging from desert and ocean planets to icy moons with subsurface oceans such as Europa and Enceladus. Another area of much interest to me is understanding how stellar processes such as winds, flares, coronal mass ejections, and energetic particles govern planetary habitability in many ways ranging from atmospheric escape to the synthesis of crucial molecules in prebiotic chemistry. Recently, I have also explored how dynamical phenomena shape the distribution of life in our Galaxy by suppressing habitability (via supernovae, active galactic nuclei, etc.) on the one hand and enhancing the number of life-bearing worlds through panspermia (transfer of life through rocky ejecta) on the other.

 

As my Ph.D. and initial postdoctoral research was in plasma physics, I continue to work in this field. Some of the areas that I have investigated over the past few years include Hamiltonian and Lagrangian formulations for plasma models, developing fluid models that accurately encapsulate collisional effects, generation of small- and large-scale magnetic fields, magnetic turbulence (e.g., in the solar wind), and fast magnetic reconnection which is believed to drive explosive phenomena such as stellar/solar flares.

 

Educational Background

Ph.D. in Physics, The University of Texas at Austin (2010-15)

 

B. Tech in Engineering Physics, Indian Institute of Technology - Bombay (2005-09)

 

Professional Experience

Assistant Professor of Astrobiology, Department of Aerospace, Physics and Space Sciences, Florida Institute of Technology (2019-present)

 

Postdoctoral Fellow, Institute for Theory and Computation, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (2017-19)

 

Postdoctoral Fellow, John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University (2016-17)

 

Postdoctoral Research Associate, Department of Astrophysical Sciences, Princeton University (2015-16)

 

Courses Taught

PHY 2002H - Physics 2 (Honors)

 

Current Research

Habitability of planets and moons in the Solar system and beyond

 

Biosignatures and Technosignatures

 

Hamiltonian and Lagrangian methods for plasmas

 

Plasma astrophysics - magnetic reconnection, dynamos, and turbulence

 

Supermassive black holes


Publications

Books

Extraterrestrial Life: From Biosignatures to Technosignatures (2020-21)

M. Lingam & A. Loeb (Harvard University Press)

Selected papers

Brown Dwarf Atmospheres as the Potentially Most Detectable and Abundant Sites for Life
M. Lingam & A. Loeb, Astrophys. J., 883, 143 (2019)

 

Active Galactic Nuclei: Boon or Bane for Biota?
M. Lingam, I. Ginsburg & S. Bialy, Astrophys. J., 877, 62 (2019)

 

Colloquium: Physical constraints for the evolution of life on exoplanets
M. Lingam & A. Loeb, Rev. Mod. Phys., 91, 021002 (2019)

 

Revisiting the Biological Ramifications of Variations in Earth's Magnetic Field
M. Lingam, Astrophys. J. Lett., 874, L28 (2019)

 

Dependence of Biological Activity on the Surface Water Fraction of Planets
M. Lingam & A. Loeb, Astron. J., 157, 25 (2019)

 

Relative Likelihood of Success in the Searches for Primitive versus Intelligent Extraterrestrial Life
M. Lingam & A. Loeb, Astrobiology, 19, 28 (2019)

 

Subsurface exolife
M. Lingam & A. Loeb, Int. J. Astrobiol., 18, 112 (2019)

 

Galactic Panspermia
I. Ginsburg, M. Lingam & A. Loeb, Astrophys. J. Lett., 868, L12 (2018)

 

Is Extraterrestrial Life Suppressed on Subsurface Ocean Worlds due to the Paucity of Bioessential Elements?
M. Lingam & A. Loeb, Astron. J., 156, 151 (2018)

 

The Propitious Role of Solar Energetic Particles in the Origin of Life
M. Lingam, C. Dong, X. Fang, B. M. Jakosky & A. Loeb, Astrophys. J., 853, 10 (2018)

 

Atmospheric escape from the TRAPPIST-1 planets and implications for habitability
C. Dong, M. Jin, M. Lingam, V. S. Airapetian, Y. Ma & B. van der Holst, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 115, 260 (2018)

 

Implications of Tides for Life on Exoplanets
M. Lingam & A. Loeb, Astrobiology, 18, 967 (2018)

 

A maximum entropy principle for inferring the distribution of 3D plasmoids
M. Lingam & L. Comisso, Phys. Plasmas, 25, 012114 (2018)

 

Black hole Brownian motion in a rotating galaxy
M. Lingam, Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc., 473, 1719 (2018)

 

Plasmoid Instability in Forming Current Sheets
L. Comisso, M. Lingam, Y.-M. Huang & A. Bhattacharjee, Astrophys. J., 850, 142 (2017)

 

Risks for Life on Habitable Planets from Superflares of Their Host Stars
M. Lingam & A. Loeb, Astrophys. J., 848, 41 (2017)

 

Enhanced interplanetary panspermia in the TRAPPIST-1 system
M. Lingam & A. Loeb, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 114, 6689 (2017)

 

Nonlinear resistivity for magnetohydrodynamical models
M. Lingam, E. Hirvijoki, D. Pfefferle, L. Comisso & A. Bhattacharjee, Phys. Plasmas, 24, 042120 (2017)

 

Is Proxima Centauri b Habitable? A Study of Atmospheric Loss
C. Dong, M. Lingam, Y. Ma & O. Cohen, Astrophys. J. Lett., 837, L26 (2017)

 

On the structure and statistical theory of turbulence of extended magnetohydrodynamics

G. Miloshevich, M. Lingam & P. J. Morrison, New. J. Phys., 19, 015007 (2017)

 

Fluid moments of the nonlinear Landau collision operator

E. Hirvijoki, M. Lingam, D. Pfefferle, L. Comisso, J. Candy & A. Bhattacharjee, Phys. Plasmas, 23, 080701 (2016)

 

General theory of the plasmoid instability
L. Comisso, M. Lingam, Y.-M. Huang & A. Bhattacharjee, Phys. Plasmas, 23, 100702 (2016)

 

Extended MHD Turbulence and Its Applications to the Solar Wind
H. M. Abdelhamid, M. Lingam & S. M. Mahajan, Astrophys. J., 829, 87 (2016)

 

Hall Current Effects in Mean-Field Dynamo Theory
M. Lingam & A. Bhattacharjee, Astrophys. J., 829, 51 (2016)

 

Concomitant Hamiltonian and topological structures of extended magnetohydrodynamics
M. Lingam, G. Miloshevich & P. J. Morrison, Phys. Lett. A., 380, 2400 (2016)