Russell Van-Linge wins William Lee Scholarship

Cool Star Lab undergraduate research Russell Van-Linge has won a William A. Lee Undergraduate Summer Research Scholarship to support research during summer 2018. Russell will be working with Adam Burgasser and postdoctoral researcher Chris Theissen to search for previously unrecognized nearby ultracool dwarfs using data from the DECaLS survey. This is the inaugural year for the Lee Scholarship, which aims to support undergraduate research in UCSD’s Physical Science Division.

Congratulations Russell!

Ivanna Escala wins NSF and Ford Foundation Graduate Fellowships

Former Cool Star Lab member Ivanna Escala, now a graduate student at Caltech, has been awarded both National Science Foundation and Ford Foundation Graduate Fellowships. These prestigious graduate fellowships are awarded across all fields, and aim to support and recognize outstanding graduate students as they pursue Master’s and PhD degrees. These fellowships will support Ivanna as she continues her astrophysics research in numerical modeling of galaxy formation.

Congratulations Ivanna!

Adam Burgasser awarded a Fulbright Scholarship

Cool Star Lab PI Adam Burgasser has been awarded a 2017-2018 Fulbright Scholarship to conduct astrophysical research in the United Kingdom. Adam will be in residence at the University of Exeter Department of Astrophysics during the Fall of 2017, working with Exeter colleagues to investigate cloud formation in the atmospheres of the coolest stars, brown dwarfs and extrasolar planets.

The Fulbright Program was initiated by Senator J. William Fulbright in 1946 and is managed by the US Department of State. It aims to increase mutual understanding and support of friendly and peaceful relations between people of the US and the people of other countries by awarding exchange grants to US and foreign researchers in over 155 countries. Over 370,000 Fulbright Awards have been awarded since the programs inception, and many have gone on to win Nobel Prizes and become leaders and innovators in scientific research.

Daniella Bardalez Gagliuffi elected to the Bouchet Graduate Honor Scholar

Cool Star Lab graduate student Daniella Bardalez Gagliuffi has been elected to the Edward Alexander Bouchet Graduate Honor Society. Daniella was one of three Physics graduate students inducted this year, and was selected based on her excellence of research and commitment to mentor and support underrepresented groups in Physics and Astronomy.

The Bouchet Society is named after the first African American doctoral recipient in the United States (in Physics from Yale University in 1876), and recognizes outstanding scholarly achievement and promotes diversity and excellence in doctoral education and the professoriate. The Bouchet Society aims to develop a network of preeminent scholars who exemplify academic and personal excellence, foster environments of support and serve as examples of scholarship, leadership, character, service and advocacy for students who have been traditionally underrepresented in the academy.  The Society was inaugurated at Yale University and Howard University in 2005 in commemoration of Bouchet’s birthday. UC San Diego is one of 13 national chapters, and inaugurated its first inductees in 2009.

Daniella will be formally inducted at the annual Bouchet Scholar Conference at Yale University April 7-8, 2017.

You can read more about Edward Bouchet at

Congratulations Daniella!

Yuhui Jin Earns Physical Science Dean’s Award for Excellence


Yuhui Jin, and undergraduate Physics major who worked on the early stages of the SpeX Prism Library Analysis Toolkit, has earned the Physical Sciences Dean’s Award for Excellence for 2017. Yuhui earned this honor for both her outstanding academic performance (she is completing dual degrees in Engineering Physics and Mathematics, including several graduate courses) and her contributions to research in several labs. Congratulations Yuhui!

Cool Star Lab Alumna Jackie Faherty Talks Supermoon on NPR


Cool Star Lab alumna Dr. Jackie Faherty, now a Senior Scientist at the American Museum of Natural History, spoke to NPR today about tonight’s “Supermoon” phenomenon.

The Moon’s orbit is an ellipse with an average eccentricity of 0.05, and therefore varies between 363,000 km (perigee) and 405,000 km (apogee) from Earth.  When the Moon is close to perigee at Full Moon (a “perigee syzygy”), it can appear 10% wider and thus 22% brighter than a Full Moon near apogee.

Image of the full moon from NASA

However, the gravitational tugs of the Sun, Jupiter and Venus actually perturb the orbit of the Moon enough to drive the eccentricity to a range of values, typically between 0.026 and 0.077.  So tonight’s Moon is just a little bit closer (357,000 km), and is estimated to be about 30% brighter than an apogee Full Moon. This makes it the brightest supermoon since 1948, and the next closer one won’t be until 2034.

You can hear more details about the Supermoon from Jackie’s NPR segment at


Daniella Bardalez Gagliuffi Wins Graduate Student Presenter Award at SACNAS


Daniella Bardalez Gagliuffi gave a preview of her thesis talk at the 2016 SACNAS National Diversity Conference in Long Beach, and in the process earned a coveted student speaker award.  From the announcement:

“We are writing to share with you the superb research presentation Daniella Bardalez Gagliuffi recently delivered at 2016 SACNAS: The National Diversity in STEM Conference in Long Beach, CA. At the conference, our judges recognized Daniella Bardalez Gagliuffi’swork, titled “Towards the True Binary Fraction of Very Low Mass Stars and Brown Dwarfs,” as a standout among the student presentations, and selected Daniella Bardalez Gagliuffi to receive one of the 2016 SACNAS Student Presentation Awards.

It is our honor to share that Daniella Bardalez Gagliuffi’s communication skills and command of the research topic were exemplary. This letter recognizes the hard work, dedication, and sacrifice necessary for a student to standout from their fellow presenters. We feel that your program is enhanced by the participation of Daniella Bardalez Gagliuffi, as such commitment will drive fellow researchers to similar heights.”

Daniella was selected among over 1000 posters and oral presentations for this award.  Congratulations Daniella!

UCSD Hosts 2016 SoCal Physics Graduate Admissions Bootcamp

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UCSD hosted the 2016 SoCal Physics Graduate Admissions Bootcamp this year at on August 13-14, 2016. The two-day intensive workshop, developed by members of the California Professoriate for Access to Physics Careers (CPAPC) and organized this year by Adam Burgasser and members of the Cool Star Lab,  is designed to help students, particularly those from underrepresented minority groups, plan for application to Physics graduate programs. This includes strategies for choosing programs, how to produce the best application, and how to succeed in the Physics GRE Subject Exam. Bootcamps are held in Southern and Northern California each year.

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Cool Stars Lab shines in 2016 Summer Research Conference

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The Cool Star Lab had a strong showing at this year’s 2016 UCSD Summer Research Conference, held August 11th around campus.  Ten students from the Lab presented results during the full day event, including six in Session #1 alone!

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Christian Aganze Selected as an inaugural LSST Data Science Fellow


UCSD-Morehouse-Spelman alum and incoming graduate student Christian Aganze has been selected as one of the inaugural LSST Data Science Fellows. This program aims to teach graduate students the skills required for LSST (Large Synoptic Survey Telescope) science that are not easily addressed by current astrophysics graduate programs. The program consists of a two-year training program, with three one-week schools per year. The program is based at Northwestern University‘s Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics (CIERA) and directed by Dr. Lucianne Walkowicz of the Adler Planetarium.

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