A Partnership in Observational and Computational Astronomy

Year 2 Summary

Year 2 of the SC State PAARE project has provided opportunities for research, teaching and mentoring in astronomy at SCSU, a Historically Black College/University located in rural South Carolina with an enrollment of approximately 4,200 students. Over 90% of the student population is African-American.

While the faculty and curriculum were largely in place at SC State prior to the award, the PAARE project allowed the faculty and students to participate in astronomical activities on a scale not previously possible. Partners, Clemson University and NOAO, have strongly embraced the concept of partnering, providing SCSU with access to people and resources previously unavailable. In turn, SCSU has been given the opportunity to contribute to the research and education activities of the partners.

A total of seven (7) SC State students were supported under this award in Year 2. All seven students are Black or African-American. Three of the students were female and four were male. Six of the seven students participated in research and travel. The seventh student become a physics major with an astronomy option late in Year 2. She has received scholarship money in Year 2 and will get her first research experience during the summer of 2010.

Two of the seven students received scholarships while two others had full scholarships through other means, but did receive POCA/PAARE stipend funds for their participation during the summer and academic year. Three of the seven students did not receive scholarships because they have not chosen the physics major with an astronomy option, but these three students did received stipends.

A total of four SCSU faculty members (Cash, Mayo, Smith, Walter) have received support in Year 2. They have been able to enhance their professional development and skills through travel, training and having funds to upgrade their research and educational resources. Additionally, Cash, Smith and Walter have received summer salaries and release time during the academic year. This has been critical to the success of the project since SCSU is not a research institution and faculty members typically teach four courses per semester for a total of eight courses within the academic year.

Finally, through the outreach activities described elsewhere in the report, 473 high school students and 16 teachers have been exposed to physics and astronomy and the POCA/PAARE program at SC State. To quote one high school student "I knew about your marching band and football team, but I didn't know SC State had programs like astronomy and nuclear engineering."