Research in the McGuire Group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology uses the tools of physical chemistry, molecular spectroscopy, and observational astrophysics to understand how the chemical ingredients for life evolve with and help shape the formation of stars and planets.
In the laboratory, we use high-resolution rotational spectroscopy to enable the detection of new molecules in the interstellar medium. We exploit automation, signal processing, and statistical tools to produce, identify, and measure new potential species in an unbiased fashion. We then endeavor to determine how the results of these experiments inform our understanding of the underlying fundamental chemical processes.
Observationally, we use high-resolution radio astronomical observations to study the rotational spectra of molecules in interstellar sources. We seek to know what molecules are present and to understand how they got there and where they are going, both in terms of the chemical and physical evolution of the source. The fundamental experiment is the detection of new molecular species. Each new detection imparts momentum of the field of astrochemistry, sometimes subtly pushing, other times forcefully driving research to follow the new discoveries.