Dino Hsu awarded the Lattimer Award for Graduate Excellence

Cool Star Lab graduate student Chihchun “Dino” Hsu

Graduate student Chihchun “Dino” Hsu has been awarded the 2019-2020 Carol and George Lattimer Award for Graduate Excellence.

The Lattimer Award honors outstanding graduate students in UCSD’s Division of Physical Sciences (Chemistry & Biochemistry, Mathematics & Physics) who seek interdisciplinary approaches to problem solving and have a strong commitment to education, mentorship, and service. The award is named after local philanthropists Carol and George Lattimer, who have supported UCSD through charitable giving and advising. Carol volunteers at The Preuss School as a mentor, and George has served on the UC San Diego Foundation Board of Trustees.

Dino was one of two recipients of the Lattimer Award this year, and both recipients will be honored at a luncheon in the Spring term.

Congratulations Dino!

Ryan Low awarded Dean’s Undergraduate Award for Excellence

Cool Star Lab undergraduate researcher Ryan Low

Ryan Low, an undergraduate researcher in the Cool Star Lab, has been awarded the UCSD Division of Physical Sciences Dean’s Undergraduate Award for Excellence for 2019-2010.

Ryan is a Physics major and has been a member of the Cool Star Lab since Winter 2018. He has been leading the analysis of optical spectral of very low mass stars and brown dwarfs obtained with the Lick Observatory KAST instrument, and his work is uncovering some of our nearest (and previously overlooked) stellar neighbors.

The Dean’s Award recognizes undergraduate students for academic excellence throughout their undergraduate period. Students are nominated by faculty and advisors, and evaluated by selection committees in each department. Ryan is one of 33 students across the Division that were selected for this award this year. Ryan and his fellow recipients will be honored at a reception in May.

Congratulations Ryan!

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!

Chris Theissen is Awarded both Sagan and NSF Fellowships

Chris Theissen, former Boston University graduate student and postdoctoral researcher in the Cool Star Lab, has been awarded both the NASA Sagan Postdoctoral Fellowship and the NSF Postdoctoral Fellowship for 2019. The award is based on his proposed program: “Planetary Collisions around Low-Mass Stars: Constraining the Timescale for Collisions and Testing the Origin of the Kepler Dichotomy”, which builds from his graduate research investigating infrared excesses around relatively old M dwarfs. He will conduct this work with one of these fellowships under the mentorship of Prof. Quinn Konopacky here at UCSD.

The NASA Sagan Fellowship is one of the most prestigious postdoctoral awards in Astronomy, with an oversubscription rate of 16:1. Similarly, the NSF Postdoctoral Fellowship (which spans all science fields) is highly coveted. Chris has previously been an NSF Graduate K-12 STEM Fellow and Ford Foundation Fellow.

Congratulations Chris!

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!