Dianna Cowern & Beach Physics Awarded Funding by Inaugural La Jolla Community Foundation Grants Program

Dianna Cowern receiving the "big check" with Susan McClellan of the LJCF (left) and Lucille Schindler of the UCSD Development Office (right)

Dianna Cowern receiving the “big check” with Susan McClellan of the LJCF (left) and Lucille Schindler of the UCSD Development Office (right). Photo courtesy Carol Hobson

Beach Physics was one of four programs to be awarded funding by the La Jolla Community Foundation, in their inaugural Foundation Grants program.  Beach Physics Creative Director Dianna Cowern (aka “The Physics Girl”) received the $8300 grant – the largest awarded this year – at an awards ceremony at Madison Gallery.  The grant will support two projects in 2015 that aim to enrich science education for La Jolla students and will move Beach Physics from online lessons to live events:

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Cool Star Undergraduates present research at SCCUR

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Cool Star undergraduate researchers Ivanna Escala and Michael Lopez presented their research at the 2014 Southern California Conference for Undergraduate Research (SCCUR) at CSU Fullerton on November 22, 2014.  SCCUR presenters undergo a competitive selection, and this was the first time students working in the Cool Star Lab attended SCCUR, joining 7 other UCSD students from different majors.

Ivanna Escala, who presented a poster on her research aimed at determining the physical properties of unusually magnetically active late L and T dwarfs, reported on her experience:

The Southern California Conference for Undergraduate Research was an excellent opportunity to share my own work with a community of fellow undergraduate researchers.  Witnessing the breadth of the topics covered at the conference, from fields such as astronomy to chemistry and psychology, truly provided me with a sense of the degree to which undergraduates actively contribute to existing bodies of knowledge. Discussing my research in astronomy, and topics in astronomy and physics in general, was a pleasure, particularly because I felt that I was helping to spread knowledge and foster interest in the field. On a personal level, I found the conference very rewarding in that it reinforced my enthusiasm and passion for astronomy; it will likely serve as a stepping stone in my path toward a career in the astrophysical sciences.

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Michael Lopez, a McNair scholar who gave a well-attended talk on his work analyzing the near-infrared spectrum of the young brown dwarf  WISE J0528, reported on his experience:

The SCCUR is the third conference which I have participated in, and it was an enjoyable learning experience because it was the first one outside of UCSD. I really enjoyed it because there was only one other person who I knew was going to the conference and it was off campus so I did not know what to expect. For the first time I was presenting to a completely knew audience. The setting was very presenter friendly. There were many more students from all over the nation and a few faculty attending my presentation in a spacious room. This made it less intimidating and I had fun talking to them about their projects and their experiences. This is also the biggest conference I have attended. There were so many students from all over California and some form other states. As a result the oral and poster presentations were very diverse. It was neat to go through the program and read so many interesting project titles from different disciplines. I believe this was a good experience in presenting with not really knowing your audience or what the environment is going to be like and to meet other students.

Congratulations to Ivanna & Mike on their participation in the conference!

 

Discovery of a Nearby Star-Brown Dwarf Binary

The nearest star systems to the Sun are some of the most heavily studied, as their proximity makes them brighter and easier to observe. Moreover, nearby systems can be studied at finer resolution than distant ones, making it easier to detect astrometric motion (parallax, proper motion, orbital motion), close companions, and even circumstellar structures such as disks and jets.  As astronomers probe ever cooler stars and brown dwarfs, we are constantly finding new neighbors, such as the recently discovered L dwarf + T dwarf binary Luhman 16AB (3rd closest to the Sun) and the frigid Y dwarf WISE J0855-0714, both around 2 pc (6 lightyears) away.

One of the recent nearby star discoveries is WISE J0720-0846 (Figure 1), uncovered by Ralf-Dieter Scholz in a cross-match of the WISE and 2MASS surveys.  At ~7 pc, this apparently cool late M or L dwarf is an exciting new addition to the Solar Neighborhood. So of course we had to get a peek at it.

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2014 Summer Undergraduate Research Conference

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Cool Star Lab undergraduates participated en masse at the 2014 Summer Undergraduate Research Conference  (SURC) on August 14th.  Christian Aganze, Mike Lopez, Rosalinda Lopez, Caleb Choban, and Kieran Berton each presented their summer’s work in the Astrophysics session, moderated by PI Adam Burgasser. Morehouse-UCSD Physics Bridge Fellows Jeremy Ariche and Saidou Ngaide also presented in this session. Melisa Tallis and Morehouse Fellow Julian Pilate-Hutcherson, who worked in the Shpyrko Lab this summer, presented in the parallel Physics & Engineering session; Jarrhett Butler, another Morehouse Fellow, presented in the Biophysics session.  This was the first time Astrophysics had its own session at the SURC, and the room was filled with astronomy fans and proud mentors.

Congratulations to everyone on a successful summer of research!

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Cool Star Lab students participate in Physics GRE Bootcamp

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Cool Star Lab undergraduates Ivanna Escala and Rosalida Lopez were among 100+ students who participated in the Southern California Physics GRE Bootcamp at CSU Long Beach August 22-23.  Supported by the California Professoriate for the Advancement of Physics Careers (CPAPC) and funded by UC Davis, UC Irvine, UC San Diego, APS Bridge Program, and the College of Natural Sciences & Mathematics and the Physics department at CSU Long Beach, this is the 3rd year of the SoCal Bootcamp, and the largest to date.  Its purpose is to provide test preparation for students planning on taking the Physics GRE for graduate school, particularly those underrepresented in the sciences. It is timed to occur a few weeks before the first testing date in September.

PI Adam Burgasser also attended the camp on Saturday to talk about the Physics graduate program at UCSD and answer students’ questions about graduate school. Three UCSD Physics graduate students were also in attendance as Teaching Assistants and to talk about their graduate experience. Morehouse-UCSD Physics Bridge Fellow Julian Pilate-Hutcherson attended the Northern California BootCamp held at UCSC that same weekend.

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