Jessica Birky awarded NSF Graduate Fellowship

Jessica Birky, a graduating senior at UCSD and student participant in the Cool Star Lab’s SDSS Faculty and Student Team program, has been awarded the 2019 NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. Started in 1952, the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) Master’s and doctoral degrees at US institutions. In 2018, 2,000 awards were made among 12,000 applicants (roughly in line with other NSF funding programs), making the NSF GRFP one of the most competitive fellowship programs currently available.

Jessica designed her application around developing data-driven spectroscopic models for M dwarfs to determine detailed chemical abundances (<0.1 dex precision) for these common, low-mass stars. She has already started this work at UCSD and MPIA (collaborating with NYU’s David Hogg and UNC’s Andrew Mann) by analyzing SDSS APOGEE data with The Cannon. Jessica’s proposal aims to extend this work by using the thousands of kinematic pairs identified in Gaia, while separating out binaries and rapid rotators.

Jessica has less than a week to decide which graduate program she will be attending, but the fortunate institution will now have a fully-funded prize-winning scholar for the first 3 years!

Congratulations Jessica!

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