Astronomy Department Awarded Grants for Research

Seth Redfield, astronomy professor of astronomy, campus director of the NASA CT Space Grant Consortium, reports that several students and faculty have recently been awarded grants for their research in astronomy.  Photo c/o Redfield

Seth Redfield, assistant professor of astronomy, campus director of the NASA CT Space Grant Consortium, reports that several students and faculty have recently been awarded grants for their research in astronomy. (Photo c/o Redfield)

Several Wesleyan students and faculty were recently awarded grants for research by NASA’s Connecticut Space Grant Program. Seth Redfield, associate professor of astronomy and campus director of NASA’s CT Space Grant Consortium, was excited about the number of winners.

“I was thrilled to see how successful Wesleyan was this year in getting grants through NASA’s CT Space Grant program,” wrote Redfield. “It demonstrates the diversity and quality of work we do that is aligned with NASA’s mission.”

“The grants this year support undergraduate, graduate, and faculty research, as well as special events organized by faculty at Wesleyan to promote exposure and career development in STEM fields,” explained Redfield.

Astronomy student Cail Daley ’18 was awarded an Undergraduate Research Fellowship, titled “Searching for Non-Axisymmetry in the Unusual Gas disk Around a Main Sequence Star.” Daley is using long-wavelength radio observations of a young star to understand how stars and planets form.

Astronomy student Julian Dann ’17 was awarded an Undergraduate Research Fellowship, titled “Determining Stellar Winds Using the Stellar Heliosphere.” Dann is studying how stars interact with the gas and dust that directly surround them.

Bill Herbst, professor of astronomy, was one of the faculty to receive a grant. (photo c/o Herbst)

Bill Herbst, professor of astronomy, was one of the faculty to receive a grant.
(photo c/o Herbst)

Bill Herbst, John Monroe Van Vleck professor of astronomy, and Martha Gilmore, chair of earth and environmental sciences, were awarded a Faculty Collaboration Grant, titled “Identifying Mineral Signatures in the Reflective Spectrum of a Pre-Planetary Stellar Disk.” In collaboration with Nicole Arulanantham, a master’s student in astronomy, this group has developed a novel experiment to study dust in the lab to understand more fully the composition and properties of dust around a young, planet-forming star. Gilmore is also a George I. Seney professor of geology and a professor of earth and environmental sciences.

Meredith Hughes, assistant professor of astronomy, was awarded a STEM Education Programming Grant, titled “Hosting the Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics at Wesleyan.” Wesleyan was selected to host the regional meeting of the Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics in Jan. 2016, and these grants will support this meeting and enable a renowned astrophysicist to attend and be a keynote speaker.

Hughes was also awarded a Faculty Travel Grant, titled “Travel by NASA Goddard Scientist from Greenbelt, MD to Middletown, CT”

Redfield was awarded a STEM Education Programming Grant, titled, “A Public Lecture on Astronomy at Wesleyan University.” This grant will support the annual Sturm Lecture organized by the Astronomy Department. At this year’s lecture on April 29, MacArthur Fellow Sara Seager will speak about her pioneering work on planets around other stars.

Jim Greenwood, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences, was awarded a Faculty Research Grant, titled “D/H of Lunar Rocks.” This grant will support the work that Greenwood and his group are doing on the composition of lunar rocks, and in particular looking at the abundance of water in lunar samples.

Redfield noted, “The grants are very competitive. The CT Space Grant Program typically gets four times the number of undergraduate research grants it can fund. So, it is a real testament to the work our students and faculty are doing that Wesleyan had two successful undergraduate research grants this year.”