(Feb. 17, 2011)--Outer space got a lot closer when students from UTSA attended the winter meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) in Seattle, Wash. Four undergraduate students, sponsored by a generous gift from a college supporter, traveled with Eric Schlegel, UTSA Vaughan Family Endowed Professor in Physics, to the conference, which ran Jan. 9-13.
In addition to attending talks from some of the field's most prominent researchers, the students presented posters of their own.
Laura Vega, a junior physics major, had experience presenting posters at smaller meetings during the fall semester, but this was her first trip to an AAS meeting. "It was amazing! I felt very honored being around the astronomy-astrophysics community," she said.
Her projects included analysis of x-rays coming off the outburst of a cataclysmic nuclear explosion of a white dwarf star, or nova. Vega used a computer program called XSPEC to incorporate the data recorded by NASA's Swift telescope into a model showing what happened during the outburst.
Fellow junior in physics Marilyn Moore was equally excited about the experience. Attending a national meeting was a huge boost in confidence and is inspiring her to find her own niche in the astrophysics research field. It was "the most amazing experience I could have asked for as a first-timer," she said.
Like Vega, Moore's research focused on what happens when a nova occurs. She used a combination of physics and math to analyze and evaluate the phenomenon, resulting in a fascinating look at how matter evolves, knowledge that will help scientists learn more about the cosmos and life on Earth.
An exciting part of the meeting for both the students and Schlegel was explaining their research to scientists whose own research the students have been following. "The big win for each was presenting their results to interested researchers like Craig Wheeler of UT Austin, Rob Fesen of Dartmouth, Paula Szkody of the University of Washington, and the list goes on," said Schlegel.
For Vega, Moore and their peers Estela Jordan and Laura McMaster, attending this meeting will likely inspire continued research at the undergraduate level and pursuit of graduate degrees in physics.
Moore recommends students get into research at the undergraduate level because "it provides [students] with a sense of confidence and experience that class work alone simply does not offer."
Schlegel agreed. "This is a big meeting for researchers in astronomy. It is a pleasure for me to be able to bring such bright young students and give them an opportunity to meet and greet the best in the fieldm" he said. "I'm so proud of the work they have done and presented in this arena."
Mimi Marziani, executive director of the Texas Civil Rights Project, will speak about civil rights advocacy, political campaigns, election law and nonprofit management.
SAWS Headquarters, 2800 U.S. Highway 281 North, San Antonio
Join the Center for Military Families for a panel on Politics in the Service of Military Families, featuring Cedric Leighton, David Splitter, Steve Huerta, and the Office of Congressman Henry Cuellar. The event is free and open to the public.
Buena Vista Street Building, Aula Canaria Lecture Hall (BVB 1.328), Downtown Campus
UTSA Dance classes will take the stage and share their talents and passion for dance! Come support our growing dance program! $10 admission
Buena Vista Street Building Theater (BVB 1.326), Downtown Campus
This panel presentation will look at the history of the YWCA and the impact the organization has had on women in the San Antonio community.
McKinney Humanities Building (MH 2.02.10), Main Campus
The Demography Lecture Series continues with Dr. Barbara Bird of American University. Her topic focuses on Insights Into a Hard to Find Population: Latino Entrepreneurs in Metro Washington, D.C. Event is free and open to the public. Parking is available in the pay stall spaces of the Monterrey surface lot.
Monterrey Building (MNT 3.240), Downtown Campus
This video tells the story of four Latina lesbians who fought for exoneration after being wrongfully convicted of sexually assaulting two girls during the Satanic Panic witch-hunt era of the 1980s and 1990s.
North Paseo Building (NPB 1.114), Main Campus
Tejana/Indígena author Ire'ne Lara Ailva will read from her latest work and discuss her approach to reimagining Tejan@ myths.
Main Building (MB 2.404), Main Campus
Muralist Crystal Arias will discuss her current mural "Cultivate the Past to Prestige" at La India Herbs and themes she utilizes in her other works.
McKinney Humanities Building (MH 3.02.26), Main Campus
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