A Partnership in Observational and Computational Astronomy

The SC State “Partnership in Observational and Computational Astronomy (POCA)” is a 6-year project funded by the National Science Foundation’s program “Partnerships in Astronomy and Astrophysics Research and Education”.

The mission of POCA is to develop an effective, long-term partnership between SC State, Clemson University and the National Optical Astronomy Observatory that combines the strengths of the three institutions to increase the scientific and educational output of all the partners with special emphasis on enhancing diversity in the field of astronomy. POCA supports a variety of activities in astronomical research, curriculum development and outreach.

POCA’s main research project is a study of pulsating variable stars, specifically RV Tauri and Semiregular types as discussed in detail here.


Goals and Results, Year 6

Goal 1: Walter and Cash continue to strengthen their research at SCSU

a) Co-PI Howell and PI Walter prepared a paper on the variable R CrBin August 2013: PASP, 125, 879
b) PI Walter is a coauthor in a paper on the RCT 1.3-meter Robotic Telescope in January 2014, AJ, 147, 49
c)Co-PI Cash is co-lead author and PI Walter a coauthor with PAARE collaborators Hinkle and Mighell and others on a publications submitted to AJ on the topic of RV Tauri and Semiregular variables in the Kepler Observatory field of view. The paper is currently under reveiw.

Goal 2: Use of small telesccopes at NOAO

a) Walter had 3 observing runs on the KPNO Coude Feed telescope during this reporting period studying RV Tauri, Semiregular and Peculiar Stars.
b) Clemson used the SARA North (KPNO) and SARA South (CTIO) telescopes on a variety of projects.
c) SCSU and Clemson faculty submitted a proposal to NSF PAARE for enhanced used of the SARA and RCT 1.3meter telescopes over the next 3 years to study RV Tauri, Semiregular and Hebig Ae/Be stars. The proposal is pending at the time of this report.

Goal 3: Increase the number of underrepresented minorities pursuing graduate degrees in astronomy.

a) Clemson graduate student S. Hampton completed his MS work on black holes and graduated in May 2013. For his Ph.D. work he chose to change to a subfield of physics that is not available at Clemson and therefore changed institutions.
b) Clemson graduate student A. Delgado-Navarro has passed her Ph.D. qualifying exams and continues to conduct her research.
c) SCSU PAARE undergraduate Charles Kurgatt graduated from SCSU with his B.S. in physics with astronomy option in May 2013. He entered the MS program in Engineering Physics at Appalachain State University in the fall of 2013. While this is not a graduate degree in astronomy, it is in a closely related field.

Goal 4: Share resources at KPNO

a) SCSU PAARE undergraduate C. Kurgatt graduated with his B.S. in physics with astronomy option in May 2013.
b) Two SCSU PAARE undergraduates C. Laursen and B. Pugh will graduate with their B.S. in physics with astronomy option in May 2014.
c) SCSU PAARE undergraduate J. Eleby will graduate with her B.S. in physics with astronomy option in December 2014.
d) Co-PI Cash conducted Kepler research with physics undergraduate J. Eleby and computer science undergraduate S. Rivers in 2013. They presented their results at the January 2014 AAS meeting. e) Co-PI Smith worked with physics major S. Pohkrel on web-based cosmology activites in 2013-14.
f) SCSU PAARE undergraduate B. Pugh held a summer 2013 internship in astronomy at the University of South Carolina.
g) SCSU PAARE undergraduate M. McKay has been awarded a 2014 summer internship at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO).

Goal 5: Share resources at KPNO

a) PI Walter, Co-PI Cash and NOAO Collaborator Hinkle are sharing results from the KPNO 2.1-meter and the Coude Feed telescope as part of their study of RV Tauri and Semiregular variables including a publication submitted and under review.
b) PI Walter, Co-PI Howell and others are sharing their results from the 4-meter and Coude Feed at KPNO. This includes results in one publication and a second one in preparation.
c) SCSU and Clemson faculty have submitted a proposal to NSF PAARE for a 3-year study that will use the SARA telescopes at KPNO and CTIO and the 1.3-meter RCT telescope at KPNO.

Goal 6: Develop & distribute inquiry-based, lab exercises and web-based activities related to cosmology

a) Co-PI Smith received an award from the South Carolina Space Grant Jove program to continue his PAARE-related work in this area in 2012 and began his project during this reporting period in 2013. His JOVE works compliments his PAARE work.
b) Smith gave an oral presentation of some of the results of his PAARE work at the Meeting of Astronomers in South Carolina in April 2013.
c) Smith gave an poster presentation on the most recent lab he developed under PAARE at the July 2013 meeting of the American Association of Physics Teachers.

Goal 7: Enhance and expand the existing outreach programs

Work in this area has been significantly reduced since the planetarium director and collaborator on this award left SCSU nearly three years ago and no replacement has been hired by the university due to the current fiscal environment. Nonetheless, Co-I Cash has conducted some K-12 outreach with local schools and she and Co-I Smith have promoted astronomy activities as faculty sponsors of the SCSU chapter of the Society of Physics students.