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!

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 shares thoughts and experiences on recruiting diverse graduate students in UCSD workshop

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On April 21st, the Division of Social Sciences at UCSD held a panel discussion on Recruiting a Diverse Graduate Student Pool, which included Adam Burgasser, Frances Contreras from the Department of Education Studies and Antonio DeMaio from the School of Medicine. Adam spoke on the efforts of the UCSD Physics Department to increase diversity in its graduate program.

Physics has a long road toward equity, with only 2% and 3% of Physics PhDs being conferred to African Americans and Hispanic Americans, and only 19% of Physics PhDs going to women. One tool toward improving these numbers and those of faculty and STEM professionals is to recruit, train, support and retain a diverse graduate population.

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