A Partnership in Observational and Computational Astronomy

Year 4 Project Investigators

Donald Walter

Walter continued in Year 4 to conduct ground and space-based research on RV Tauri and Semi-regular stars with Co-PIs Cash and Howell. An additional collaborator from POCA partner NOAO now includes Kenneth Hinkle, who was a Co-I on a proposal to NASA for Kepler Cycle 4 time. Cash took the lead on that proposal with Walter and Hinkle as Co-Is.

Walter presented research and education posters at the January 2012 AAS meeting as described elsewhere in this report. He carried out three observing runs at the Coude Feed telescope at KPNO during Year 4 of POCA. Those spectroscopic results are being prepared for presentation in two separate publications, one with new Kepler data and one combining years of ground-based data on different stars than the Kepler set.

Walter attended the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics conference on the campus of the University of California, Santa Barbara, in October 2011. The title of the conference was ' The Impact of Asteroseismology across Stellar Astrophysics'. Walter was able to make contact with several modeling groups and is currently exploring a future collaboration with one of the groups.

Walter also attended the First Kepler Science Conference at NASA Ames in December 2011. He was able to interact with other researchers and discuss common issues with their Kepler data.

Walter and Cash visited NASA Ames in May 2011 to work with the Kepler Guest Observer Office on the procedures to reduce and interpret their Kepler data.

Walter worked with several undergraduates during the summer 2011 astronomy internship program at SC State as well as conducting research during the academic year with POCA undergrad Charles Kurgatt as described under his accomplishments.

Walter collaborated with Sean Brittain at Clemson to recruit students into the POCA and Clemson programs. They both were present with a booth exhibit at the joint meeting of the National Society of Black/Hispanic Physicists in Austin, Texas, during September 2011. This resulted in one application to the POCA summer 2012 internship program from a student at South University in Baton Rouge. Additionally, Walter attended the national meeting of the Society for the Advancement of Chicano and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) meeting in San Jose, California, in October 2011. He presented an exhibit booth that highlighted POCA undergraduate and graduate programs in astronomy at SC State and Clemson. From this, three students from Puerto Rico have applied to the SC State summer 2012 program and one student considered but did not apply to Clemson for graduate school.

Walter was heavily involved in local recruitment into the physics program at SC State. He took the lead in organizing a 4-day workshop on astronomy for 25 teachers and high school students in June of 2011. He organized a Saturday Physics Visitation Day on November 5, 2011, for 32 high school students and 20 parents and teachers. He gave additional talks and presentations to school groups from around the state as described elsewhere. He also took the lead in organizing the 2011 Meeting of Astronomers in South Carolina. This took place on the campus of SC State and included 38 participants from 10 institutions. Additionally he worked with the SC State Public Relations and Research office to develop several TV programs and advertisements on the POCA program.

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.

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 has moved from NOAO to NASA Ames and has become the Deputy Project Scientist for the Kepler Mission but remains a Co-PI on the POCA project. He continues to work with Walter and Cash on their research. In Year 4 he has used his observing time on the 4meter telescope at KPNO to acquire spectra of several of the stars too faint for Walter to obtain with the Coude Feed Telescope. He is a coauthor with Walter and Cash on two separate papers in preparation.

Through Year 3, 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 Walter and Cash are preparing.

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

In Year 4, as in Years 1-3, Dr. Leising served as 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 was instrumental in recruiting the first SC State POCA undergraduate, Jared Lalmansingh, to successfully apply to the Clemson graduate physics program. Leising is currently the research advisor to Jared who is working on modeling of supernovae.

In Year 4 Leising coordinated the visit by SC State summer interns to Clemson. The students and faculty toured the campus, conducted a remote observing session and participated in a meeting at which Clemson and SC State faculty and students gave a total of 10 talks. He also helped coordinate a visit by two Clemson graduate students (Shaun Hampton and Jared Lalmansingh) to SC State to speak about 'What Graduate School is Really Like' to 16 State undergraduates and three faculty members.

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. Daniel Smith, Co-PI from SC State, had developed several POCA-funded cosmology laboratory exercises and computer simulations and demonstrations during Years 1-4 including one in which the jackknife statistical technique has been applied to calculate two-point correlation function error bars.

In Year 4 he has given a presentation entitled 'Large Scale Structure for Undergraduates' at the combined conference of National Society of Black/Hispanic Physicists in Austin, Texas, in September 2012. The American Association of Physics Teachers has accepted his workshop 'Cosmology in the Classroom' as part of its summer 2012 meeting in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

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, 2010 and 2011, Smith conducted sessions on extragalactic astronomy and cosmology with the POCA Tier I students and will do so again in 2011.

He continues to be active in recruiting physics majors to the SC State program through talks and visits to groups on campus and in the region.

Jennifer Cash

Dr. Jennifer Cash, POCA Co-PI from SC State, was the lead on a proposal submission to Cycle 4 of the NASA Kepler Guest Observer program in January 2012. She collaborated with PI Walter and a new NOAO collaborator, Kenneth Hinkle. They propose to study RV Tauri and Semi-regular variables in the Kepler field.

In earlier POCA years, her involvement with computational methods in astronomy led to a collaboration with Clemson faculty members outside of the physics and astronomy department described below. That collaboration has continued and she was part of a booth exhibit at the International Conference for High Performance Computing, Networking, Storage and Analysis' in Seattle, Washington, in November 2011. Her display dealt with the Kepler light curve analysis she has been conducting.

Cash has continued to participate in outreach and recruitment activities on campus and around the state. Her role as the Campus Director for the South Carolina Space Grant Consortium gives her additional opportunities to promote POCA and astronomy.

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.

Cash is also a Co-I on the successful Cycle 2 Kepler Proposal with Walter and Howell. They are preparing their results for publication.

Cash has been the research mentor to a new pair of Tier I interns in each of the summers of 2008, 2009, 2010 and four summer interns in during the summer of 2011. Several of them have 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 space and effectively visualize the results, something that is currently not possible with the modeling resources available to her.

Elizabeth Mayo

Dr. Mayo has been 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 that has been accepted by AJ based on her Ph.D. dissertation work on magnetic fields in star forming regions. It was recently published as: Mayo, E. and Roland, T., 2012, AJ, 143, 32; 'Very Large Array H I Zeeman Observations of the Cygnus X Region: DR 22 and ON 2'.

Mayo has taught radio astronomy to Tier I students in each of the first three summers of this program, 2008, 2009 and 2010. She has conducted POCA outreach activities from 2008-2011. This includes planetarium shows, talks to school groups and observing sessions.

Mayo left South Carolina State University in the summer of 2011 to pursue other interests. She is preparing an additional publication based on her Ph.D. work. If that publication is submitted prior to the end of POCA, it will be supported by POCA funds.

Jeremy King

Dr. King participated in the summer 2011 visit by SC State students and faculty to the Clemson campus. He continues 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 in November 2008. This trip was the seminal event in motivating Lalmansingh to chose the astronomy option as a physics major at SC State. Lalmansingh is now a graduate student in astronomy at Clemson.

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. Mighell has also provided research suggestions to Walter and Cash in Year 4 and made them aware of resources available for their work on RV Tauri and Semi-regular variables.

Dieter Hartmann

Dr. Hartmann conducted a remote observing session with visiting SC State summer interns in July 2011. From the the Clemson campus, he remotely logged into the SARA South Telescope located at CTIO in the South Hemisphere. He demonstrated to the students how to conduct a remote observing session in real time, an activity the students found to be very exciting. Additionally, Hartmann is the M.S. thesis advisor to POCA graduate student Shaun Hampton who is conducting research on Hawking radiation from black holes.

Sean Brittain

Dr. Sean Brittain worked with Tier II POCA intern from SC State Charles Kurgatt in the summer of 2011. Kurgatt worked on measuring spectro-astrometric signals of CO emission from disks around young stars. Additional details are provided under Kurgatt's section.

Brittain was also involved in a number of recruitment activities, including helping to recruit SC State physics major Jared Lalmansingh to successfully apply to the Clemson graduate program in astronomy. He worked with Walter at a POCA and Clemson recruitment booth at the combined meeting of the National Society of Black/Hispanic Physicists in Austin, Texas, in September 2011. Additionally, he provided materials for the POCA and Clemson booth at SACNAS in San Jose, California, in October 2011.