A Partnership in Observational and Computational Astronomy

Year 3 Project Investigators

Donald Walter

Walter was successful in Year 3 as a PI on a proposal to use NASA's Kepler Observatory to observe RV Tauri and Semi-regular variables. POCA Co-PIs Cash and Howell were also Co-Is on the Kepler proposal. The first set of data from Kepler arrived in late January 2011 and will be a major part of the Year 4 research.

Walter also conducted ground-based research on RV Tauri and Semi-Regular stars in Year 3 as well as Years 1 and 2. He has conducted observing runs on the Coude Feed Telescope in October 2009, as well as January, May and October of 2010. The next run is planned for late March 2011. Additionally, Walter and undergraduate E. Nesmith are using the 1.3 meter Robotically Controlled Telescope at KPNO to gather BVR photometry of these stars simultaneous with Kepler's on-orbit observations.

Walter and undergraduate students are working with Howell on the spectra of these variable stars and combining their results with the photometeric work of Cash and her students. A total of three poster presentations at the AAS meeting in January 2011 dealt with this work.

He is a coauthor on the paper submitted by Cash in 2010 and described elsewhere.

Walter has worked with other members of the POCA team to carry out recruitment activities on the national and local level and a teacher workshop at SC State as described in detail in the Outreach section of this report.

Walter served as mentor to two SC State Tier I (basic level) interns in the summer of 2010, and will mentor 2 or more in the summer of 2011. During the academic year 2010-11, he has served as mentor to undergraduates E. Nesmith and J. Lalmansingh as they conducted astronomical research for course credit.

As PI, Walter has been responsible for the day-to-day operation of the project including oversight of the work by Co-PIs and others involved in the project as well as all financial and administrative tasks.

Walter was the main point of contact and responsible for communication among the partner institutions, Co-PIs, collaborators and students.

Steven Howell

Dr. Howell is the Co-PI on this project from the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO). He continues to serve as the mentor to the SC State faculty and students for research and a point of contact for access to KPNO facilities. He encouraged Walter and Cash to submit a Kepler proposal and made important contributions to the proposal as a Co-I. He has also made significant contributions as a coauthor on the paper that Cash has submitted.

Howell visited SC State in April 2009 and April 2010 to assist in the writing of a research paper, plan for student summer research projects and future faculty work on the project.

During the summer of 2010, Dr. Howell served as mentor to two (2) SC State Tier II (experienced) astronomy interns at NOAO as he had done in the summer of 2009 to a different (third) SC State student.

Mark Leising

Dr. Leising is the Co-PI on this project from Clemson University (CU). He handles financial and administrative matters related to the subaward. He coordinates faculty and student participation at and with CU, including SC State access to CU observing facilities at KPNO and elsewhere.

Leising visited SC State in September 2008 to speak to POCA students and coordinated a visit to SC State by a two Clemson graduate students on March 25, 2010. These grad students spoke to SC State faculty members, POCA undergrads, members of the Society of Physics Students and others. Leising coordinated visits to the Clemson campus by SC State POCA students and faculty during the summers of 2008 and 2009. He and other Clemson faculty recruited two African-American students who were accepted into the Clemson graduate program in astronomy and are the first two POCA fellowship recipients under this award. In the summer of 2009 he mentored a Tier II (experienced) astronomy intern from SC State.

Daniel Smith

Dr. Smith had developed several cosmology laboratory exercises and computer simulations and demonstrations during Years 1-3 including one in which the jackknife statistical technique has been applied to calculate two-point correlation function error bars. He presented some results at the January 2011 national meeting of the American Association of Physics Teachers. He is currently enhancing his cosmology website with these exercise. More details can be found elsewhere in this report. During each of the summers of 2008, 2009 and 2010, Smith conducted sessions on extragalactic astronomy and cosmology with the POCA Tier I students and will do so again in 2011.

Jennifer Cash

Cash has conducted research in Years 1-3 on the analysis of the light curves of RV Tauri and Semi-regular stars using AAVSO data. She and her students have successfully modeled several of these objects. Her research results were part of three posters at the January 2011 AAS meeting in addition to AAS meetings in 2009 and 2010. She submitted a paper to AJ and is currently working with her Co-Is on revisions to the paper in response to referee comments.

Cash is also a Co-I on the successful Cycle 2 Kepler Proposal with Walter and Howell. In the months ahead she will be applying the techniques she has previously developed to the Kepler data.

Cash has been the research mentor to a new pair of Tier I interns in each of the summers of this program, 2008, 2009, 2010. They have all contributed to poster presentations at AAS and other meetings.

Cash expanded her collaborations with Clemson University in 2010, albeit outside of the POCA astronomical group. She is now a Co-PI on an NSF EAGER award to Clemson entitled 'TIGER - Tight Integration of Grid Enabled Researchers'. She has become the SC State point of contact to the rest of the campus for training and other opportunities supported by Cyber-Infrastructure. Her own research in time series analysis of these variable stars will be expanded by this collaboration so that she can explore a large range of parameter

Elizabeth Mayo

Dr. Mayo is the Planetarium Manager, an Assistant Professor of Physics and a Radio Astronomer at SC State. She has contributed to this project in a number of ways.

She submitted a paper to AJ in 2010 based on her Ph.D. dissertation work on magnetic fields in star forming regions. She and her coauthor are preparing a response to comments by the referee.

Mayo has taught radio astronomy to Tier I students in each of the three summers of this program, 2008, 2009 and 2010. She will continue to do so in the summer of 2011.

Mayo has conducted outreach activities throughout the life of this project and will continue to do so. This includes planetarium shows, talks to school groups and conducting observing sessions.

Jeremy King

Dr. King will continue to provide input into recruiting and possible faculty and student collaborations between Clemson and SC State. In the past he has submitted proposals to NSF that included partnering with SC State to observe objects of interest with the 1.3-meter RCT at KPNO. Additionally, King and his graduate student, E. Bubar, invited SC State undergrad J. Lalmansingh and PI Walter to observe with Bubar on the 4-meter. This trip was the seminal event in motivating Lalmansingh to chose the astronomy option as a physics major at SC State.

Kenneth Mighell

Dr. Mighell has collaborated on this PAARE project since its beginning in 2008 in his role as the NSF REU Site Director at KPNO. This has included coordinating the participation of a total of three SC State summer interns at KPNO. In the summer of 2010 he took an even more active role by assisting Howell in directing the research of E. Nesmith and J. Lalmansingh. This was preceded by his visit with Howell to SC State in April 2010 to plan the student's summer work. Mighell was coauthor on both student posters at AAS in January 2011.

Dieter Hartmann

Dr. Hartmann is preparing for SC State's participation in future optical follow-ups to Gamma Ray Bursts. This will include access to the KPNO 1.3-meter telescope known as the Robotically Controlled Telescope (RCT). SC State has guaranteed observing time on the telescope as one of the members of the consortium that manages the RCT.

Sean Brittain

Dr. Brittain is preparing to integrate physics majors from SC State and Clemson into his research program studying gas in disks around young stars. These students will collaborate with education majors at Clemson to develop curriculum for the Emerging Scholars program related to the origin of the Solar System. Additionally, Britain has been successful in helping to recruit SC State physics major J. Lalmansingh to apply to the Clemson graduate program in astronomy.