Alexander P. Stephan

Dr. Alexander P. Stephan

Vanderbilt University
Department of Physics and Astronomy

Picture Credits: CfA/Mark A. Garlick - NASA/JPL-Caltech -
NASA/ESA/STScl/G. Bacon - ESO/L. Cal├žada/M. Parsa


I am a Postdoctoral Scholar at Vanderbilt University, where I work on a variety of topics including exoplanet dynamics, multi-star evolution, and galactic nuclei dynamics. Perviously, I was an OSU President's Postdoctoral Scholar at the Ohio State University. I completed my PhD at UCLA in 2020, working with Prof. Smadar Naoz since 2014. Before that I was an undergraduate at the University of Chicago. Originally I am from Heidelberg, Germany.
On this website you can find information about my work and links to my recent papers and my CV. If you have any questions regarding my research feel free to e-mail me!

Research Interests

I study the long-term orbital dynamics of multi-body systems, such as binary and triple stars or exoplanet systems, under the influence of stellar evolution effects. In particular, my PhD research focused on the Eccentric Kozai-Lidov Mechanism in conjunction with the effects from stellar mass loss and radial inflation and contraction. This mechanism has a large number of possible applications and I have used it to study a vast array of astronomical phenomena, including binary evolution in the Galactic Center, white dwarf pollution, Hot Jupiter formation, as well as stellar and planetary collisions. During my time as a postdoctoral scholar at OSU, I also became involved in other studies on exoplanets, such as observational studies of planets in evolved binary systems and the study of Hot Jupiter precession induced by rapidly rotating oblate stars, both on a theoretical level as well as involving observational data. Some of my works have been featured by AAS Nova (2), Physics Today, as a Nature Research Highlight, and by New Scientist.

Google Scholar

ADS publication list

Outreach and other Activities

I am passionate about outreach as a means to advance the scientific education and experiences of students from under-represented groups and to enhance the general public's awareness of current scientific achievements. As such, I served as one of the coordinators of the UCLA astronomy outreach group Astronomy Live! for several years, where we visit local LA schools or hold on-campus events to explain astronomy and physics concepts using scientific demonstrations. I have also participated in and at times co-organized the on-campus outreach event Exploring Your Universe, which draws several thousand visitors to UCLA each year.

Vanderbilt Links

Department of Physics and Astronomy

Contact Information

Department of Physics and Astronomy
Vanderbilt University, Nashville
TN 37211