Cool Star Grads Share Advice & Experience at Cal-Bridge Workshop

On Saturday May 21st, UC San Diego and the Cool Star Lab hosted students participating in the Cal-Bridge program for a Workshop titled “What is Graduate School?” The purpose of the workshop was to introduce students the idea of graduate school and why graduate study (Master’s or PhD) might be an good option for future career aspirations.

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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.

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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

 

Adam Burgasser elected to American Astronomical Society Council

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Cool Star Lab PI Adam Burgasser has been elected as a Counciler for the American Astronomical Society (AAS), a 3-year term that begins June 2016. AAS Councilers represent the governing body of the AAS and are responsible for the management, direction and control of the affairs and the property of the AAS.  This includes consideration of resolutions that direct the research, educational and professional mission of the AAS. Adam was elected by a general vote of the AAS membership, which comprises 7,000 professional and amateur members.  Adam has been serving as Chair of the AAS Committee on the Status of Minorities in Astronomy and is a AAS Agent.

Adam’s election statement was as follows:

Astronomy inspires people from all ages, backgrounds and abilities to be curious about the Universe, explore the physical underpinnings of Nature, and develop critical and scientific thinking. Yet, like many fields of physical science, our profession does not reflect the demographic composition of our nation, and various forms of subtle and overt racism, sexism, genderism, ableism, classism, and other exclusionary practices prevent the full spectrum of people, ideas and perspectives from being brought to bear on the greatest problems of our Universe.

As Chair of the CSMA, I have worked with our community to identify and address barriers to entry and advancement in Astronomy, including: financial barriers and biases associated with the GRE, imbalance in resources and opportunities for students and faculty of color at HBCUs and MSIs, and accessibility for all abilities. I served on the organizing committee for the first Inclusive Astronomy Conference, and am working with co-organizers and the community to develop recommendations to improve the climate for ALL astronomers. As a AAS Councilor, I will make sure our Committees of Community (CSWA, CSMA, SGMA) have a voice in AAS governance, and will serve the diverse community of students, amateurs and professionals that comprise our Society.

First SPLAT Publication: An In-depth Analysis of GJ 660.1AB

Screen Shot 2016-01-20 at 10.14.17 PMMorehouse College undergraduate Christian Aganze has led the first result to be published from the SpeX Prism Library Analysis Toolkit (SPLAT) project: an in-depth analysis of the M-dwarf binary system GJ 660.1AB.

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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!

Daniella Bardalez Gagliuffi awarded AWIS scholarship award

Graduate student Daniella Bardalez Galgiuffi was awarded a $1000 scholarship this month by the Association for Women in Science (AWIS) San Diego Chapter. She joined undergraduate major Erika Johannessen to receive their awards at Saturday’s Women in Science and Technology Conference at UCSD.

The AWIS-SD Scholarship Program strives to encourage and reward aspiring women scientists pursuing their degrees at San Diego colleges and universities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). AWIS-SD scholarships have supported community college, undergraduate, and graduate women in San Diego County pursuing their degrees, conducting research projects, or assisting with additional educational expenses, with an emphasis on STEM fields where women are underrepresented. In 2015, over 150 applications were received, and awards were made to seven exceptional women scholars.

Daniella Bardalez Gagliuffi was honored for her accomplishments in pursuing her thesis research,  the identification and characterization of binary systems of brown dwarfs; and her service to the UCSD community. As one of the very few women in the physics department at UCSD, she believes it is important to create a supportive community of women who are role models for the next generation of female scientists. Daniella has volunteered at many outreach events, including as a translator for Latin American students in Camp Ciencia, organized by the Institute of the Americas at UCSD.

Congratulations Daniella!

Beach Physics & Dianna Cowern Featured on Local Innovate 8 Program

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Dianna Cowern and the Beach Physics project were recently featured on the local CBS affiliate KFMB in San Diego as part of its Innovate 8 program. Innovate 8 is a collaboration between the San Diego County Office of Education and UC San Diego, and aims to inspire and engage K-12 students to excel in the fields of Science,Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) through interactive, educational opportunities.

The 3-minute feature includes a preview of the Beach Physics Pop-up Science Lab with students from Albert Einstein Academy Middle School.  The Pop-up Lab has recently received funding through a grant awarded by the La Jolla Community Foundation.

The Innovate 8 feature can be viewed here: http://www.cbs8.com/category/155799/video-landing-page?clipId=10964959&autostart=true