Erin Guilfoil Cox

 Erin Cox

Contact Information

113 Astronomy Building
1002 W. Green St.
Urbana, IL
MC 221
Graduate Student
View CV

Research Interests

  • Dust polarization in protostars
  • Evolution of protoplanetarty disks
  • Substructure of evolved disks
  • Grain growth in disks
  • High resolution imaging of protoplanets

Research Description

My research focuses on protoplanetary disks-- from their birth, through the formation of protoplanets. Specifically, I study dust continuum polarization signatures from the youngest disks and the environment surrounding them. Using multi-wavelength observations, I can disentangle the magnetic field from the scattering contribution in dust continuum polarization observations. Combining my high resolution data with observations that probe larger scale polarization allows me to build a multi-scale picture of how the inferred magnetic field morphology changes and provides insight into how magnetic fields observationally affect young disk growth. I also use sub-mm continuum observations of more evolved disks to characterize their flux and sizes. These older disks are likely the sites of planet formation so knowing more about the mass reservoirs that are available during this phase addresses questions surrounding our current understanding of exoplanet systems.


  • B.S., Physics/ Astronomy, University of Arizona, 2012

Distinctions / Awards


  • Illinois Space Grant Consortium Fellowship (2015-2016)
  • NRAO Student Observing Support Award (2016-2017)

Selected Publications

Journal Articles

Cox, Erin Guilfoil, Robert J Harris, Leslie Looney, Dominique Segura-Cox, John Tobin, Zhi-Yun Li, Łukasz Tychoniec, Claire Chandler, Michael Dunham, Kaitlin Kratter, Carl Melis, Laura Perez, and Sarah Sadavoy High-resolution 8 mm and 1 cm Polarization of IRAS 4A from the VLA Nascent Disk and Multiplicity (VANDAM) Survey The Astrophysical Journal Letters 814 2 2015, p. L28.
Cox, Erin G, Robert J. Harris, Leslie W. Looney, Hsin-Fang Chiang, Claire Chandler, Kaitlin Kratter, Zhi-Yun Li, Laura Perez, and John J. Tobin Protoplanetary Disks in ρ Ophiuchus as Seen from ALMA The Astrophysical Journal 851 2 2017, p. 83.

In The News

  • Several graduate students have won awards recently. Erin Cox and Dominique Segura-Cox have won the Graduate College Academic Excellence and Good Citizenship Award.

  • Using new images that show unprecedented detail, scientists have found that material rotating around a very young protostar probably has dragged in and twisted magnetic fields from the surrounding area. Illinois astronomers Leslie Looney and Erin Cox lead the team studying the protostar.