What else have the members of the Department of Astronomy & Planetary Science been doing?
Our faculty, staff, and students are making a difference on campus and around the world. Read about some of our achievements, activities, and successes.
Thanks to David Trilling for keeping track of all these accomplishments!
We had four students graduate on Friday, Dec 15, with undergraduate degrees: Accordion Closed
Tyler Dawson (BS — Physics and Astronomy merged; also the CEFNS Outstanding Senior!); Andrew Deverse (BS in physics); Jaylyn Diaz (BSED — secondary education/general science); and Matthew Mikulecky (Physics minor).
Research Associate Michael Mommert has accepted a job offer Accordion Closed
as tenure-track astronomer at Lowell Observatory, starting sometime this spring. Michael has been a postdoc/research associate at NAU for 4.5 years, and we’ll sure miss him, but he’s really not moving all that far.
Chad Trujillo Accordion Closed
and Scott Sheppard (Carnegie) helped to confirm the cometary nature of the faint comet C/2017 U5 (PANSTARRS) as listed in Central Bureau Electronic Telegram 4458 (Dec 3): “Images taken by C. Trujillo and S. S. Sheppard with the Blanco 4.0-m reflector at Cerro Tololo on Nov. 17.2 and 18.2 show an obvious tail extending some 11 arcseconds almost due west of the nuclear condensation (reported as an independent discovery).”
Dave Schultz (Vice President for Research at NAU, and a faculty member in our department) Accordion Closed
tells us that he recently was awarded the 15th NASA grant of his career. He intends
to hire a postdoc (who will be resident in our department, I think) to work on this project. Sorry, we don’t actually know the topic of this project — more in our next good news summary.
Christopher Edwards was a part of 8 abstracts Accordion Closed
presented at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting (held last week). Christopher Edwards gave a talk and his postdoc Kristen Bennett gave a poster.
- Christopher was also on a panel to discuss student involvement in research, specifically related to NASA, with Jim Green (NASA’s Planetary Science Division Director), Lindy Elkins-Tanton (ASU/SESE Director), Lori Glaze (NASA Goddard Planetary Geology Division Director) and NASA Education experts.
Mark Loeffler is first author Accordion Closed
on a paper titled: “Coloring Jupiter’s Clouds: Radiolysis of Ammonium Hydrosulfide (NH4SH)” that has been accepted for publication in Icarus.
Mark Salvatore won a mug Accordion Closed
for sending the 10,017th F2S message to a student in his class.
David Trilling and Michael Mommert Accordion Closed
are named collaborators on a recently accepted proposal that is led by Chris Doughty in SICCS. The proposal is entitled “Testing methods to detect 3D vegetation structure on exoplanets” and was funded by NASA’s Habitable Worlds program. Ty Robinson has since been recruited to participate in this project as well.
David Trilling is leading his usual Spitzer team Accordion Closed
(including Michael Mommert) on a recently accepted proposal to observe the interstellar object 1I/2017 U1 (‘Oumuamua) with the Spitzer Space Telescope. Observations will be made next Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday (Nov. 20-22).
Astronomy graduate students, Annika Gustaffson, Aaron Weintraub, and Colin Chandler, Accordion Closed
each submitted a proposal to the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program. The proposals contained original research ideas, and were exceptionally well written. Also, a number of physics and astronomy faculty helped to improve these proposals by participating in a series of mock review panels. This whole process was led by Ty Robinson.
Ty Robinson had a NASA Exoplanets Research Program proposal funded. Accordion Closed
The grant will fund research at NAU, UC Santa Cruz, and at NASA Ames Research Center. Studies will focus on modeling the atmospheres and spectra of super-Earth and mini-Neptune exoplanets, and understanding how future NASA missions might be able to study these curious types of worlds.
Ty Robinson also had a paper accepted by The Astrophysical Journal. Accordion Closed
This manuscript develops physical, analytic descriptions of how refraction and forward scattering impact exoplanet transit observations.
David Trilling, Ty Robinson, Alissa Roegge, Colin Chandler, Nathan Smith, Mark Loeffler, Chad Trujillo, Lori Glaspie, and Samuel Navarro-Meza Accordion Closed
spent an hour with the white board during an “astrocookies” gathering to work on what could be learned from interstellar object ‘Oumuamua. Less than a week later the paper was submitted to the Astrophysical Journal Letters, and it was accepted a few days later; it is now in press.
John Gibbs, Amir Nourhani and collaborators published Accordion Closed
a communication in Advanced Materials entitled, “Engineering Contactless Particle-Particle Interactions in Active Microswimmers“. Other authors were Daniel Brown and Nicholas Pletzer.
Postdoctoral Scholar, Michael Mommert, Accordion Closed
had his proposal “A Python package for small body planetary astronomy” was selected for funding by NASA’s PDART program.
David Trilling’s face is on the cover of “Pine” Accordion Closed
NAU’s newly-reinstated alumni magazine, and our astronomy department is prominently featured inside.
Etude O’Neel-Judy gave an invited talk at the Rice University Accordion Closed
physics undergraduate symposium. This is clearly Rice recruiting him to come there for graduate school. Etude won an award for the best theory talk at that undergraduate research symposium.
Lisa Chien writes: Accordion Closed
“Yesterday after my PHY161 class, a student came up and told me that he just switched his major from computer science to physics, because he loves my class and is very inspired to learn about physics! He then spent another half hour asking me about our department, tips for being a successful physics major, and what PhD in physics/astronomy is like. That was the highlight of my day!”
Christopher Edwards writes: Accordion Closed
“The OREX PSP [Participating Scientist Program] I was on as a Collaborator was selected. This means (based on our reading of the rules) that I’m officially a OSIRIS-REx team member subject to their rules of the road (with no money of course).”
Postdoctoral Scholar, Maggie McAdam, Accordion Closed
is a CoI on a newly selected SOFIA program entitled “Determining the Mineralogical Evolution of Asteroid (145) Adeona through Degree of Aqueous Alteration to Support Dawn Extended Mission”
John Gibbs writes: Accordion Closed
I had another paper accepted today in the New Journal of Physics with my former colleague in Germany
Dave Koerner flew on SOFIA Accordion Closed
a couple of weeks ago — ask him for the stories.
This Washington Post Article Accordion Closed
mentions Christopher Edwards‘ work. The article is primary about a new result that was recently published by Colin Dundas, who works at USGS here in Flagstaff and has been one of our REU mentors.
Former undergraduate student Ryan Blackman Accordion Closed
paid us a visit last week. He is now in his fourth year at Yale in their astronomy PhD program, and he’s working on commissioning Debra Fischer’s EXPRES instrument for the DCT. More importantly, Ryan was wearing **socks and shoes**. I guess he’s all grown up.
Former masters student Kyle Pearson Accordion Closed
won the UA/LPL Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant award for Spring, 2017.
Christopher Edwards, Kristen Bennett, and former REU student Leah Sacks Accordion Closed
have a paper about dunes on Mars, “The Thermophysical Properties of the Bagnold Dunes, Mars: Ground-truthing Orbital Data“, (also with several USGS Flagstaff people).
Dave Koerner, and others, participated in the Navajo Bridget Star Party: Accordion Closed
“The Navajo Bridge Star Party was a great success! NAU had six telescopes there courtesy of Space grant’s Kathleen Stigmon, Mary Lara, Ed Anderson, and volunteer astronomy majors. Lowell also participated. We also had a number of intrepid AST 201 students making the 2 hour drive in search of extra credit! The event was held at the northwestern border of the Navajo Reservation and had a lot of Navajo participation. Wonderful talks were given by Navajo speakers Sunny Dooley (on Coyote stories), Dr. Henry Fowler (on Navajo math and constellations in hogan construction and weaving) and David Begay (former AST 201 instructor on Navajo Astronomy). Coconino County Supervisor (and Navajo!) Lena Fowler was there as organizer and supporter. It is expected that this event will continue to grow in future years and be a wonderful opportunity for STEM outreach on the reservation!”