Adam Burgasser receives Distinguished Teaching Award

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Cool Star Lab PI Adam Burgasser has been awarded a UCSD Distinguished Teaching Award for 2016. He was nominated by the Physics Department’s Education Vice Chair Tom Murphy, and recognized for his broad contributions to the educational mission at UCSD; efforts to develop interdisciplinary courses between Physics, humanities and the arts; and commitment to student learning.

From the nomination:

Adam J. Burgasser has shown tremendous dedication to education in a diverse set of classes, teaching a broad array of students. His commitment has been epic; the connection he has forged with students has been profound; and his activism to increase the quality of the UC San Diego community is extremely admirable. As one student described, Professor Burgasser has “a uniquely genuine and passionate interest for his students to succeed, for UC San Diego to thrive, and for physics to be as tangible a topic as any other; he embodies the type of physics professor other professors should strive to become.”   Professor Burgasser not only has acted as a successful ambassador of physics to students on our campus but also has built educational bridges to a variety of points beyond campus.

 

Cool Star Lab Contributes to the Discovery of 3 Potentially Habitable Earth-Sized Worlds

 

Adam Burgasser and Daniella Bardalez Gagliuffi were part of an international team headed by Michael Gillon at the University of Liege that discovered three Earth-sized planets orbiting around the habitable zone of a nearby ultracool dwarf, TRAPPIST-1. The results were reported in the May 2, 2016 issue of Nature.

This artist’s impression shows an imagined view of the three planets orbiting an ultracool dwarf star just 40 light-years from Earth that were discovered using the TRAPPIST telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory. These worlds have sizes and temperatures similar to those of Venus and Earth and may be the best targets found so far for the search for life outside the Solar System. They are the first planets ever discovered around such a tiny and dim star. In this view one of the inner planets is seen in transit across the disc of its tiny and dim parent star.

This artist’s impression shows an imagined view of the three planets orbiting an ultracool dwarf star just 40 light-years from Earth that were discovered using the TRAPPIST telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory. These worlds have sizes and temperatures similar to those of Venus and Earth and may be the best targets found so far for the search for life outside the Solar System. They are the first planets ever discovered around such a tiny and dim star. In this view one of the inner planets is seen in transit across the disc of its tiny and dim parent star (ESO/M. Kornmesser, CC BY)

Below is a reproduction of a The Conversation article I wrote for this discovery, with images from the official ESO press release.

[Read more…]

Gretel Mercado presents at 2016 CAMP Symposium at UCI

Undergraduate research Gretel Mercado presented her research investigating a possible brown dwarf companion to a nearby star at the 2016 CAMP Statewide Symposium at UC Irvine.

Gretel is a member of the UCSD chapter of the California Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation in Science, Engineering and Mathematics (CAMP – LSAMP). This NSF-funded program provides support and advancement opportunities to students defined as underrepresented by the NSF who are seeking bachelor’s degrees in chemistry, physics, cognitive science, biology, other sciences, mathematics, engineering and technology. It is one of many initiatives started by the recently deceased senator from Ohio Louis Stokes to advance underrepresented minorities in science and education.

Gretel was one of 45 students from across the UC system to present physical science research posters at the day-long event, which were judged by nearly two dozen faculty members from all campuses.  She reported her analysis of a previously unrecognized L dwarf that appears to be a very wide companion to a nearby, young sun-like star. She is currently writing up her research for publication. This was the same research that won Gretel a poster award at the APS Far West meeting in October 2015

 

Gretel Mercado earns Best Undergraduate Poster Award at APS Far West Meeting

Gretel Mercado, and undergraduate researcher in the Cool Star Lab and participant in the California Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation in the Sciences (CAMP), won the Best Undergraduate Poster Award at the 2015 American Physical Society Far West meeting in Long Beach, CA.  Gretel reported her analysis of a new brown dwarf companion to a nearby sun-like star, which she analyzed using tools she and her fellow undergraduates developed for the SpeX Prism Library Analysis Toolkit (SPLAT). Congratulations Gretel!

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Christian Aganze awarded AAS FAMOUS grant for 2016 National Conference

Christian Aganze (Morehouse ’16) who participated in the 2014 and 2015 programs, has been awarded an American Astronomical Society (AAS) Funds for Astronomical Meetings: Outreach to Underrepresented Scientists (FAMOUS) grant. The grant provides up to $1000 for travel, meals & lodging for participation in the January 2016 AAS meeting  in Kissimmee, Florida. Christian will be presenting his work searching for distant brown dwarfs in the HST WFC3 Infrared Spectroscopic Parallels Survey (WISPS).

Congratulations Christian!