Dianna Cowern wins National Science Communication Award


Cool Star Lab Outreach Coordinator Dianna Cowern took the top video prize at this year’s Flame Challenge, a national science communication contest run by the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science headquartered at SUNY Stony Brook. Dianna was among hundreds of scientists who tackled the question “What is Color?”, using either video or written formats. Her video was judged as the best entry by over 27,000 11-year olds from around the world.  This is the third year of the Challenge; previous contests asked “What is a Flame?” and “What is Time?“.

Both Dianna and the winner of the written category Melanie Golob, received their awards from Alan Alda during an event at World Science Festival.  This event, hosted by Brian Greene, can be viewed here; the awards are announced toward the end.

Several news agencies reported Dianna’s win, including NBC News and io9, and UCSD profiled Dianna in This Week. You can see more of Dianna’s videos at her Physics Girl YouTube channel.

Congratulations Dianna!



Dianna Cowern Participates in BeWiSE Overnighter

Cool Star Lab Outreach Coordinator Dianna Cowern participated in the BeWiSE (Better Education for Women in Science and Engineering) overnight camp on April 18th at the Scripps Birch Aquarium.

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Christine Nicholls participates in Girls in Ocean Science conference

This month, Christine Nicholls participated in the Girls in Ocean Science, a one-day science conference for teenage girls. Hosted by the Ocean Institute in Dana Point, CA, this annual event is designed to give high school girls a first-hand experience of what real science research is about, and to encourage them to consider science careers. Although the conference mostly focused on marine sciences, Christine’s astronomy activities were definitely popular.


Focusing largely on interactive stellar classification activities, Christine introduced the girls to many basic but fascinating astronomical concepts. These included the many different types of stars the universe contains, how colour relates to temperature and wavelength of light, an astronomer’s quantitative definition of colour, spectra, and the place of empirical research in science today. The photo above shows one of the groups devising a colour-based stellar classification system.