News and Events
Congratulations to Astronomy Senior students Daniel Krista-Kelsey, Samuel Millstone, and Liam Yanulis for awards from the Department of Astronomy, UMass.
Samuel Millstone received the 2023 Outstanding Senior Award. Daniel Krista-Kelsey and Liam Yanulis received the 2023 Astronomy Awards for Academic Excellence.
The awards recognize accomplishments from our seniors across multiple dimensions. More information can be found at:
Congratulations to UMass Astronomy students Giselle Hoermann and Andrew Wright who have been awarded the 2023 David van Blerkom Research Scholarship. The David van Blerkom Research Scholarship is an endowment fund established by Janet Van Blerkom. The purpose of the fund is to endow undergraduate research scholarships in the Department of Astronomy in memory of her husband, David J. Van Blerkom, Professor of Astronomy at the University of Massachusetts. Professor Van Blerkom came to UMass as a Postdoctoral Fellow in 1969, joined the faculty in 1970, served as Chair of the Astronomy Program from 1980-1999, and then continued on the faculty until 2001. This scholarship fund is awarded based on academic excellence to a University of Massachusetts undergraduate and supports a research internship for that undergraduate.
I am pleased to announce that the 2023 Mary Dailey Irvine outstanding thesis prize goes to:
Cailin Plunkett (Amherst College)
Thesis title: “Population properties of protoplanets: quantifying completeness in the presence of accretion”
Advisor: Kate Follette
Mary Dailey Irvine Prize
This prize is established through a gift from the Irvine Family to the Five College Astronomy Department in memory of Mary Dailey Irvine (Smith College 1922). This prize exists to encourage and honor excellent undergraduate research in astronomy and astrophysics. The prize is awarded to a graduating senior from one of the Five College institutions for an outstanding senior thesis or research paper presented to the department on an astronomical or astrophysical topic.
The Office of Faculty Development is pleased to announce that Emily Heaphy, Associate Professor of Management, Sindiso MnisiWeeks, Associate Professor of Legal Studies, Bogdan Prokopovych, Senior Lecturer of Management, Grant Wilson , Professor of Astronomy, and Ximena Zúñiga , Professor of Student Development, have been awarded Chancellor’s Leadership Fellowships within Academic Affairs for the 2023-24 academic year.
"The Chancellor’s Leadership Fellows program provides an opportunity for faculty to expand their leadership development by advancing a project in an area of particular interest to them and benefit to the campus," explains Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Tricia Serio. "I am looking forward to collaborating with them in the coming year."
The Chancellor’s Leadership Fellowship (CLF) program seeks to cultivate future campus leaders by offering a half-time, one-year temporary appointment to an administrative area on campus and providing mentoring from the leader of the host unit. In addition, fellows are expected to launch a significant program during their fellowship year.
The CLF nomination and application process commences annually in January. Full-time tenured faculty, senior lecturers, and librarians on continuing appointments are eligible for the fellowship which is administered by the Office of Faculty Development.
Grant Wilson, Professor of Astronomy, will work on understanding and ameliorating institutional impediments to faculty taking on and managing their research grant portfolios. The goal is to identify ways to increase the total number of grant dollars per capita by identifying key areas of institutional investment, workflow bottlenecks, or any other areas of support that faculty identify as being critical to UMass' evolving research enterprise. Wilson will be working with Mike Malone, the Vice Chancellor of Research and Engagement.
Wilson did his graduate work in physics at Brown University where he studied cosmology by building balloon-borne instruments to measure the Cosmic Microwave Background - the oldest radiation in the Universe. After receiving his Ph.D. in 1998 he did postdoctoral work at NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center and then at the University of Chicago. Since coming to UMass in 2001, Professor Wilson won the College Outstanding Teacher Award and also built and deployed the AzTEC camera which helped to identify hundreds of new galaxies. Wilson chairs the Science Advisory Board of the Large Millimeter Telescope, is Director of the Graduate Program in Astronomy, and now leads a multi-national collaboration of scientists in the building and deploying the TolTEC camera - a revolutionary new imaging polarimeter.
"As a Chancellor's Leadership Fellow, my principal goal is to help to find ways to make research easier to manage and more efficient to conduct at UMass. Whether it is IT issues, space allocation issues, or availability of resources, it is critical that we understand what factors limit our existing research activities as well as what we even dare to propose," explains Wilson. "I hope to end this fellowship with a clear prioritized plan for what the administration could do to help maximize our research efforts."
Dr. Wilson's webpage on the UMass Astronomy Website can be found here: Grant Wilson | Department of Astronomy (umass.edu)
Dr. F. Peter Schloerb delivered a speech for the Distinguished Faculty Lecture on March 23, 2023 at 4:00 pm in the Old Chapel at UMass Amherst. Please see the links below to read more about this event.
Distinguished Faculty Lecture Series
Honor Senior student Timothy McQuaid has been selected as a 2022-2023 UMass Amherst Rising Researcher. The award recognizes exceptional accomplishments of UMass Amherst undergraduate students who excel in research, scholarship, and creative activity.
A team of astronomers, including assistant professor Kate Whitaker, recently published research in the journal Nature that many popular publications have said “breaks the universe.” While not literally true, the team, which used the newest trove of data retrieved from the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), discovered that very old, very massive galaxies seem to exist on the fringes of the universe—which, according to current astronomical theory, shouldn’t be possible.
Click the link to see more of the article.
Decades ago, Andy Morris-Friedman didn’t imagine that the odd collection of stones he stumbled upon during a bike ride would lead to involvement in a community for more than 25 years — and that he’d be one of the ones keeping it alive after the woman who built it died.
Astronomy-lovers have been gathering since the mid-1990s each solstice and equinox — the days the seasons change — at the UMass Sunwheel, a group of stones that mark the angles of sunrises, moonrises and other celestial events.
Click the link to the article to read more.
Congratulations to Prof. Kate Whitaker, who was recently awarded an NSF CAREER grant in the amount of $799,007. The Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program is an NSF-wide activity that offers the National Science Foundation's most prestigious awards in support of early-career faculty who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education and to lead advances in the mission of their department or organization. More information on this prestigious award can be found at: https://beta.nsf.gov/funding/opportunities/faculty-early-career-development-program-career and https://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward?AWD_ID=2236773&HistoricalAwards=false