Dr. Ward Spruill Howard uses space and ground based telescopes to investigate high-cadence, multi-wavelength emission from large stellar flares called "superflares" across the sky. He is currently PI of the TESS Guest Investigator Programs GO 3174 (Multi-Wavelength Superflares and Planetary Habitability) and 4132 (Probing Impulsive Events in Huge Flares at High Cadence). He is also working in Dr. Meredith MacGregor's research group to understand the relationships between stellar flare emission from the X-ray into the millimeter.
Dr. Howard carried out the first multi-year, high-cadence superflare survey of hundreds of the brightest and nearest M-dwarfs in the Southern sky. The survey was performed with Evryscope-South, an array of small optical telescopes at CTIO in Chile. One of these large flares was detected from Proxima Centauri, which hosts the nearest-potentially habitable exoplanet. The "Proxima Superflare" would have delivered potentially germicidal levels of UV radiation to the surface of an unprotected planet at the distance of Proxima b. He completed his PhD in Physics and Astronomy at UNC Chapel Hill in Spring 2021. His dissertation is entitled, "Investigating exoplanet habitability and the stellar magnetism of cool stars across half the Southern sky via superflares, starspots, and stellar rotation".