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!

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.