A Partnership in Observational and Computational Astronomy

Year 4 Project Partners

Clemson University

Clemson has successfully recruited two underrepresented minority students into their graduate program in the Fall of 2010 and two more in the Fall of 2011. They have also recruited within their existing graduate student pool, a 4th year Ph.D. student to serve as a mentor to the incoming POCA students. Both of these accomplishments help achieve one of the primary objectives of the POCA project, to increase diversity in the Ph.D. portion of the pipeline. While the POCA award provides stipends to the students, Clemson has provided tuition waivers. In Year 4 one of the new graduate students was the first SC State undergrad to enter 'through the POCA pipeline'.

Additionally, Clemson faculty have assisted PI Walter on his national recruiting trips by accompanying him on these trips, by providing handout materials for the POCA display and by following up with recruitment emails and phone calls to prospective graduate school candidates.

Clemson astronomers, specifically Co-PI Mark Leising, served as the research mentor to SC State summer 2009 intern Jared Lalmansingh. Clemson astronomer Sean Brittain served as a summer 2011 mentor to SC State student Charles Kurgatt. The work of Leising and Lalmansigh resulted in a student poster at the January 2010 AAS meeting.

Five SC State summer interns and two professors visited Clemson in July 2011. They toured the campus, participated in an real-time, remote access observing session and listened to a total of 10 talks by faculty and students from both institutions.

Four SCSU students and three professors visited Clemson in July 2009 to discuss their summer's work, hear about research opportunities from graduate students and faculty, get to know Clemson, and hear more directly from students what graduate school is like. Talks by students and faculty at both institutions were given. A similar event in July of 2008 included two faculty members and three POCA summer interns from SC State.

Clemson has also sent speakers to SC State. This has included a visit by Co-PI Leising in September 2008 and two Clemson graduate students in March 2010. In Year 4, two Clemson graduate students visited SC State and spoke to 16 undergraduates and three faculty members on 'What Graduate School is Really Like'.

Western Kentucky University

Astronomers at Western Kentucky University (WKU) have worked with SCSU astronomers to prepare the 1.3 meter telescope, also known as the Robotically Controlled Telescope (RCT), for research use under the PAARE award. SCSU and WKU have collaborated with other schools over the years in the management of the telescope. Lightning strikes in the summer of 2008 resulted in multiple equipment failures and an extended period of down time. The facility was restored to normal use and has been scientifically productive several years. PI Walter is working with an SC State student to begin regular use of the RCT to acquire BVR photometry of RV Tauri type stars. Beginning in the summer of 2012, SC State POCA summer interns will learn how to use the telescope, including how to submit observing requests and how to retrieve the data.

During Year 4, Western Kentucky undergraduate, Andrew Gott, conducted research using the RCT, obtaining multicolor photometry of the M101 supernova. He was an undergraduate Chambliss Award winner. His travel to AAS was funded by the POCA award as part of our collaboration with Western Kentucky.

National Optical Astronomy Observatory

A new POCA collaborator from NOAO, Kenneth Hinkle, has begin work during Year 4 with Cash and Walter in the submission of a Kepler Guest Observer Cycle 4 proposal to NASA. Cash is the lead, Walter and Hinkle are collaborators.

NOAO personnel Co-PI Howell and Senior Personnel Mighell have collaborated on this project in a number of ways. They have helped coordinate and plan both student research and faculty research.

Howell has now moved to NASA Ames to become the Deputy Project Scientist for Kepler. However, during the first three years of the project, up to 20% of Howell's time at NOAO was allocated by the Director of NOAO to the POCA/PAARE project. Howell has provided archival spectra from the Coude Feed telescope that contributes significantly to the RV Tauri research at SC State. He has helped SC State faculty members organize their research project through near-term and long-term planning. He has also provided training and guidance in the use of the Coude Feed telescope at KPNO by Walter. Howell provided the initial suggestion and subsequent support in the writing of a Cycle 2 Kepler observing proposal with Walter as the PI. This proposal was awarded observing time and the first data set arrived in February 2011.

Howell has worked with a total of three SC State POCA Tier II (experienced) summer interns, one in the summer of 2009 and two in summer of 2010. All three of these students gave presentations at the AAS meetings in January 2010 and 2011 respectively. One of students, Jared Lalmansingh, is now a graduate student in the Clemson physics and astronomy department.

Mighell is the NSF REU Site Coordinator at KPNO and helped SC State coordinate the three POCA Tier II summer interns to work at KPNO. In February of 2009, Mighell spoke to one of the students at a national meeting and helped motivate him to participate. In the summer of 2010 he took on additional duties with the two visiting POCA interns, overseeing a portion of the research work.

Howell conducted a research visit to SC State in April 2009. Both Howell and Mighell visited SC State in April 2010 to conduct research, talk with students and plan future activities.

Other Collaborators and Contacts

Dr. James Payne of Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College assists the SC State POCA project with K-14 outreach, teacher workshops and balloon launches..

Mr. Bryan Fogle, an Instructor of Physical Science at SC State, assists the SC State POCA project with K-12 outreach, teacher workshops, balloon launches and recruitment.

Dr. Paul Gueye of Hampton University collaborated with SC State astronomers and other physics faculty members to install and train in the use of the Geant4 software. During Year 4, he visited the campus in April 2011 to conduct a 2-day workshop. While this software has applications in astrophysics as well as heath and medical physics, it has not been put to use by any SC State faculty members to date.

Co-PI Cash has developed a new collaboration in Year 3 of POCA with a group of computer scientists at Clemson University that will enhance her astronomical research.

'Tight Integration of Grid Enabled Researchers(TIGER)' will implement and evaluate a 'campus bridge' model that addresses the growing need for Cyber-Infrastructure (CI) support for researchers at campuses of every size requiring resources that may not be of petascale size, but that outstrip the infrastructure that can be supported at most institutions. The project is managed at Clemson, but includes other colleges and universities.

The TIGER project will provide Cash and her team the training and resources needed to expand the scale of their modeling efforts to explore a large range of parameter space and effectively visualize the results of their time series analysis of RV Tauri and Semi-regular variables. Additionally, Cash will serve as the SC State point of contact for faculty and student training and awareness of the opportunities afforded by this and related projects.

Walter has developed a student balloon payload program at SC State that studies the meteorological and ozone properties of the troposphere and lower atmosphere. This program was initially developed under an NSF Geodiversity award. The POCA award has used the infrastructure of this program to launch balloons as part of its recruitment, outreach and teacher training. This in turn has lead to interest by group of researchers at the University of Michigan who have included Walter and SC State in their Earth Science satellite proposal that involves student research and outreach. At the current time, this proposal is pending.