Hayes received his AB and MEng from Cornell University, then his PhD in planetary science with a minor in geology/remote sensing from California Institute of Technology in 2011. Among his many distinguished awards to date, Hayes received an AGU Ronald Greeley Early Career Award in 2012 followed by a NASA Early Career Fellowship in 2013. Additionally he was a National Science Foundation Kavli Fellow in 2014.
Hayes uses spacecraft-based remote sensing to study the properties of planetary surfaces, their interactions with the interior, and if present, atmosphere.Recently, he has focused on studying the coupling of surface, subsurface, and atmospheric processes on Titan and Mars. Titan is the only planetary body,besides Earth, that supports standing bodies of liquid on its surface. Hayes uses the Cassini RADAR to study and model surface morphologies on icy satellites, including the distribution and evolution of Titan's hydrocarbon lakes and seas. Using data from the Mars Exploration Rovers and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, he is also interested studying the depositional and diagenetic history of early Mars. The geometry, scale, and distribution of sedimentary structures on Mars is strikingly similar to deposits found on Earth, allowing the methods and principles of terrestrial-based sedimentology to be utilized on Martian Analogs.