Thursday, January 11, 2018

People of Color Presenting at AAS: Friday

We at Astronomy in Color are proud to highlight presenters at the January 2018 AAS meeting who identify as People of Color.  We'll be posting daily.  If you would like to be included, please fill out your information using this google form.  An itinerary has also been created on the AAS Meeting schedule page, go to View the Online Program and type in "People of Color" (case sensitive) as the itinerary name.  Select "view your itinerary" to see all presentations.

PoC Presentations on Friday, January 12


Kate Daniel (Bryn Mawr College)
425.05: "Scaling Relations for the Efficiency of Radial Migration in Disk Galaxies"
2:50 pm

Christopher Moore (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics)
402.03D: "The Miniature X-ray Solar Spectrometer (MinXSS) CubeSats: instrument capabilities and early science analysis on the quiet Sun, active regions, and flares"
10:20 am

**Kelby Palencia (University of Puerto Rico - Mayaguez)
429.01: "ALFAZOA Deep HI Survey to Identify Galaxies in the ZOA 37° ≦ l ≦ 43° and -2.5° ≦ b ≦ 3°"
2:00 pm

**Manisha Shrestha (University of Denver)
Graduate Student
424.06D: "Polarized bow shocks reveal features of the winds and environments of massive stars"
3:10 pm


Amalya Johnson (Columbia University / SDSS FAST)
425.08: "The Stellar Kinematics of E+A Galaxies in SDSS IV-MaNGA"

Estefania Padilla (Cal State - San Bernardino)
442.09: "Structured Antireflective Coating for Silicon at Submillimeter Frequencies"

Karen Perez (Cornell University)
452.01: "Multi-Wavelength Study of Jets in Coronal Holes"

Lynnae Quick (National Air and Space Museum)
Staff Scientist
439.21: "The Potential for Volcanism and Tectonics on Extrasolar Terrestrial Planets"

** these people are applying for the Next Level (grad school, postdocs, etc)

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

People of Color Presenting at AAS: Thursday

We at Astronomy in Color are proud to highlight presenters at the January 2018 AAS meeting who identify as People of Color.  We'll be posting daily.  If you would like to be included, please fill out your information using this google form.  An itinerary has also been created on the AAS Meeting schedule page, go to View the Online Program and type in "People of Color" (case sensitive) as the itinerary name.  Select "view your itinerary" to see all presentations.

PoC Presentations on Thursday, January 11


**Kirk Barrow (Georgia Tech)
Graduate Student
327.05D: "Caius: Synthetic Observations Using a Robust End-to-End Radiative Transfer Pipeline"
2:50 pm

Lia Corrales (University of Wisconsin-Madison)
Einstein Fellow
429.06: "Modern Progress and Modern Problems in High Resolution X-ray Absorption from the Cold Interstellar Medium"

Jacob Luhn (Penn State: non-PoC student mentored by PoC Professor Fabienne Bastienne)
Graduate Student
303.03: "Radial Velocities of Subgiant Stars and New Astrophysical Insights into RV Jitter"
10:20 am

Moiya McTier (Columbia University)
Graduate Student
310.07: "Introducing Exotopography"
11:20 am

**Steven Villanueva Jr. (The Ohio State University)
Graduate Student
314.02D: "The DEdicated MONitor of EXotransits and Transients (DEMONEXT): a Robotic Observatory for Follow-Up of Transiting Exoplanets, Transients, and Time-Series Photometry"
10:10 am


Jarita Holbrook (University of Western Cape)
335.01: "The AAS Committee on the Status of Women: Then and Now and Where Do We Go from Here?"

Jarita Holbrook (University of Western Cape)
Q&A: Black Suns film screening
7:30 pm


Aurora Cid (CUNY - College of Staten Island / AstroCom NYC)
349.35: "Probing the Long Timescale Evolution of Magnetic Activity of Ultracool Dwarfs"

Lina Florez (University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign)
362.07: "Characterizing Sky Spectra Using SDSS BOSS Data"

**Monica Gallegos (UC - Santa Cruz)
 347.19: "Tidal Disruptions of Main Sequence Stars: Inferences from the Composition of the Fallback Material"

Eileen Gonzales (CUNY Graduate Center)
Graduate Student
349.37: "Examining Cloud, Metallicity, and Gravity signatures in Brown Dwarfs"

**KeShawn Ivory (Rice University)
354.06: "Optimizing Methods of Obtaining Stellar Parameters for the H3 Survey"

**Jonathan Mercedes Feliz (CUNY Lehman College / AstroCom NYC)
 347.15: "Black Holes in Dwarf Galaxy Mergers"

Ferah Munshi (Vanderbilt University / University of Oklahoma)
340.10: "Marvel-ous Dwarfs: Results from Four Heroically Large Simulated Volumes of Dwarf Galaxies"

**Teresa Panurach (CUNY Hunter / AstroCom NYC)
349.01: "Blue Stragglers and Other Stars of Mass Consumption in Globular Clusters"

Jaimee-Ian Rodriguez (CUNY Hunter / AstroCom NYC)
340.13: "Simulating Supernovae Driven Outflows in Dwarf Galaxies"

Jennifer Stafford (The Ohio State University)
347.20: "Interactions of Stellar-Mass Black Holes Around Supermassive Black Hole Binaries"

**Jahreem Thompson (University of the Virgin Islands)
355.55: "Development of a New X-Ray Polarization Detection Device"

**JP Ventura (CUNY Hunter / AstroCom NYC)
349.39: "Investigating the Spectroscopic Variability of Magentically Active M Dwarfs In SDSS"

** These people are applying for the Next Level (grad school, postdocs, etc)

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

People of Color Presenting at AAS: Wednesday

We at Astronomy in Color are proud to highlight presenters at the January 2018 AAS meeting who identify as People of Color.  We'll be posting daily.  If you would like to be included, please fill out your information using this google form.  An itinerary has also been created on the AAS Meeting schedule page, go to View the Online Program and type in "People of Color" (case sensitive) as the itinerary name.  Select "view your itinerary" to see all presentations.

PoC Presentations on Wednesday, January 10


**Amruta Jaodand (University of Amsterdam)
Graduate Student
233.05D: "Transitional millisecond pulsars in the low-level accretion state" 


**Michael Bueno (Haverford College/ Banneker Aztlán Institute)
 257.16: "Tracing Cold Molecular Gas in Starburst Galaxies"

**Aracely Cobos (Cal State East Bay/CAMPARE/Carnegie Observatories)
252.11: Mapping the filaments in NGC 1275

 **Jorge Cortes (Columbia University)
246.19: "Probing LSST's Ability to Detect Planets Around White Dwarfs"

**Aylin Garcia Soto (Wesleyan University)
244.12: "Photometric Follow-up of Eclipsing Binary Candidates from KELT and Kepler"

**Tenley Hutchinson-Smith (Spelman College)
250.12: Visibility of Active Galactic Nuclei in the Illustris Simulation

 **Bethlee Lindor (Princeton University)
246.12: HAT-P-68b: A Transiting Hot Jupiter Around a K5 Dwarf Star

Raquel Martinez (University of Texas - Austin)
Graduate Student
 246.25: Searching for the Elusive Optical Photospheric Continuum of the Enigmatic Wide-Orbit Tertiary Companion to FW Tau with HET LRS2

**Roberto Moncada (CUNY City College of New York / AstroCom NYC)
251.01: "Gamma-ray Spectra of Starburst Galaxies"

 **Syeda Nasim (CUNY Hunter College / AstroCom NYC)
250.18: "Grinding Down Stars and Stellar Remnants Into Accretion Disks"

Angelica Rivera (Drexel University)
Graduate Student
250.24: Investigating Quasar Diversity using UV, X-ray, and Emission-line Properties

Bryce Van Ross (Cal State - Los Angeles)
246.22: Improvement on Exoplanet Detection Methods and Analysis via Gaussian Process Fitting Techniques

 **Ashley Walker (Chicago State University)
257.08: "Hydrogen Cyanide In Protoplanetary Disks"

** These people are applying to the Next Level (graduate school, postdocs, etc)


Monday, January 8, 2018

People of Color presenting at AAS: Tuesday

We at Astronomy in Color are proud to highlight presenters at the January 2018 AAS meeting who identify as People of Color.  We'll be posting daily.  If you would like to be included, please fill out your information using this google form.  An itinerary has also been created on the AAS Meeting schedule page, go to View the Online Program and type in "People of Color" (case sensitive) as the itinerary name.  Select "view your itinerary" to see all presentations.

PoC Presentations on Tuesday, January 9


Quianah Joyce (University of the Virgin Islands)
107.08: "What is the difference between an ultra-long GRB and a long GRB?"

Rodolfo Montez (Smithosonian Astrophysical Observatory)
Staff Scientist
4:15pm, NASA Hyperwall
"Multiwavelength Views of the Late Stages of Stellar Evolution"


Jonisha Aubain (University of the Virgin Islands)
153.23: "Gamma-ray Burst X-ray Flares Light Curve Fitting"

**José Flores Velazquez (Cal Poly-Pomona / CIERA Northwestern REU)
136.04: "Star Formation Rate Indicators in the FIRE Galaxy Formation Simulations"

**Alexander Fortenberry (University of the Virgin Islands / TAURUS)
153.24: "Tackling The Dragon: Investigating Lensed Galaxy Structure"

Elizabeth Gutiérrez (University of Texas - Austin)
136.06: "Radio Interferometry with the SMA: Uncovering Hidden Star Formation in Our Extreme Galactic Center"

Betsy Hernandez (AMNH / NAC)
149.26: "Metallicities of z ~2 Galaxies From the 3D-HST Survey"

**Juan-Carlos Martinez (University of the Virgin Islands)
153.22: "Exploring the Pulse Structure of the Gamma-Ray Bursts from the Swift Burst Alert Telescope"

**Brian Merino (San Francisco State University)
149.13: "Clumpy star formation in gravitationally lensed galaxies at 0.5 < z <1.0"

**Chris Murphy (University of the Virgin Islands)
151.08: "Real-time Automatic Search for Multi-wavelength Counterparts of DWF Transients"

Winonah Ojanen (College of St. Scholastica / SDSS FAST)
149.60: "E+A Galaxy Properties and Post-Starburst Galaxy Evolution Data through SDSS-IV MaNGA and Illustris: A Co-Analysis"

**Adrianna Perez (Cal State - Dominguez Hills)
149.54: "Star Formation in Merging Galaxies Using FIRE"

**Francis Rivera (CUNY Lehman / AstroCom NYC)
158.12: "The Possibility That M dwarfs are Gamma Ray Emitters"

Niko Thomashow (Oberlin College)
136.10: Two-Decade Monitoring of MWC349 in Optical and Radio: New Results

David Zegeye (Haverford College)
149.20: "The Evolution of Galaxies Through the Spatial Distribution of Their Globular Clusters: the Brightest Galaxies in Fornax"


**Teresa Monsue (Vanderbilt University)
Graduate Student
158.07: "Multi-wavelength Observations of Solar Acoustic Waves Near Active Regions"

** R. Zachary Murray (Cornell University)
158.10: "Simulations of Tidally Driven Formation of Binary Planet Systems"

** This person is applying for the Next Level (grad school, postdocs, etc)

Thursday, January 4, 2018

CSMA Activities at the January 2018 AAS Meeting

Image result for gaylord national harbor

The CSMA is sponsoring four activities at the 231st AAS meeting, taking place January 8-12 2018 in National Harbor, Maryland.  Registration is still open for the workshops and we would love to see you there.   If you're not able to register online, you can email Lynn Ervin ( to inquire about signing up.

Sunday 1-5pm
Everyday Anti-Racism: Tools and Ideas to Combat Racism in Astronomy Departments and Organizations
Fee: $35
Potomac Ballroom 2

Monday 10:30am - 3:30pm
Teaching for Equity
Fee: $0
Chesapeake 8

Monday 2-4pm
Thriving in Grad School as a Marginalized Student
Fee:  $0 
Potomac Ballroom 2

Tuesday 6:00 - 7:30 pm
CSMA Meet and Greet
Chesapeake 7-8

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Bears Ears National Monument: A Statement

In 2016 President Barak Obama proclaimed the Bears Ears region of southeastern Utah to be a US National Monument of 1.35 million acres. The proclamation came after years of work of five local tribes and their allies to create an unprecedented cooperative governing organization to protect America’s most significant and unprotected land of archaeological and cultural antiquities, the ancient heritage of tribal people who have lived in the area for millennia.

The Intertribal Coalition provided for collaborative management by the tribes and the federal government, on a basis of equality, something that has never been done before. Both western science and Indigenous traditional knowledge would be given equal weight in decision-making. As Jim Enote, Zuni tribal member and Director of A:shiwi A:waan Museum and Heritage Center explains, “Decision making by those who are intimately tied to the wellbeing of these places could finally yield an entirely new era of sensitive and responsive land management.

Navajos like Mark Maryboy interviewed many elders in the past 10 years, including many members of my own family. He collected stories of how the lands of the Bears Ears were used by the People for ceremonial purposes, medicinal plant gathering, hunting, wood gathering, protection, and spiritual well being. The Navajo and other tribes protected the ancient dwellings on the land, and did not damage the remains of buildings and humans in any way. It grieves the Navajos who live close to the Bears Ears that local non-Indians have been plundering and damaging these dwellings and graves for close to 100 years.

The Bears Ears region has been cooperatively managed for the entire year since the land was proclaimed a National Monument. Many healing ceremonies and social gatherings have been held there, and the land is beginning to heal. Many generations of Dine people have joyfully gathered there in all seasons to celebrate the beginning of the Bears Ears National Monument.

Now, in December 2017, with the stroke of a pen, President Trump has eliminated close to 2,000,000 acres, which is most of the Bears Ears National Monument and the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument in southern Utah.. This most unfortunate decision has left the region wide open to plundering graves, damaging priceless ancient rock art, pulling down buildings, 4 wheel excursions, mining including fracking and extracting uranium from the ground, in an area where hundreds of Indian and non-Indian miners and their generation of descendants have died from uranium related cancers and other diseases. Trump’s decision will lead to desecration and heartbreak. It demonstrates to Native Americans that their lands and values mean very little to the US Government. It gives Native American youth less and less hope for their own futures.

There is overwhelming support among the five local tribes of the Intertribal Coalition, including Navajo (Dine) Nation, Hopi, Pueblo of Zuni, Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, Ute Indian and others. The US courts have not weighed in on the matter since the Antiquities Act’s passage 111 years ago. That law authorizes presidents to unilaterally set aside public lands to protect “objects of historic and scientific interest,” which President Barack Obama used to designate the 1.35 million acres in San Juan County last year. The five tribes — Hopi, Navajo Nation, Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, Pueblo of Zuni and Ute Indian — pushed for the monument status and are suing Trump and members of his administration for splitting the designation into two areas that comprise less than 202,000 acres. In a brief visit to Utah, the president also trimmed Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument by nearly 900,000 acres.

There is much support to fight this presidential proclamation by Donald Trump and his Department of the Interior. Large corporations who support economic justice, such as Patagonia, have stood up and supported a grass roots movement to put back the 2,000,000 acres into Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante in Southern Utah National Monuments. The five tribes are filing their own lawsuits against the President’s recent decision. Responsible people across the nation and internationally, are calling for the repeal of the President’s proclamation.

A legal basis of the fight for social and economic justice rest on the central argument that only Congress, not the President, has the legal authority to diminish National Monuments.

The Indigenous Education Institute stands proudly among those who will carry on this fight for social and economic justice. We ask you to join us in the restoration of public lands for Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante.

Nancy C. Maryboy, PhD

Nancy Maryboy is the Founding President and Executive Director of the Indigenous Education Institute, a non profit organization with a mission of preserving, protecting and applying indigenous knowledge.

Disclaimer: This is not an official statement by the American Astronomical Society nor the Committee on the Status of Minorities in Astronomy and should not be construed as such.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Meet Your New CSMA Members: Keith Hawkins

Keith Hawkins
Columbia University

Keith Hawkins, a native of Canton, Ohio, is currently a Simon’s Junior Research Fellow at Columbia University in New York City, NY. He recently accepted a position as an assistant professor of astronomy at the University of Texas at Austin to begin in September of 2018. He is an observational astronomer with a focus on Galactic Archaeology, which aims to piece together the structure, formation, assembly, and evolution of our Milky Way Galaxy using fossil stars in the night sky. He is an expert in stellar chemistry through high- and low-resolution spectroscopy and uses the Milky Way as a laboratory to understand galaxy formation more generally.

He earned his B.S. in Astrophysics with minors in African Studies and Mathematics from Ohio University’s Honors Tutorial College, which is the only degree-granting program in the US modeled after the Oxford-Cambridge system of tutorial education, as a Templeton and Goldwater scholar in 2013. He then went on to earn a Ph.D. in less than three years from the University of Cambridge, as a British Marshall Scholar, in 2016.  

John Johnson: Congratulation on being named a Marshall Scholar! What was it like and what was your reaction when you first learned that you won?
Keith: In 2013, after many years of hard work through my undergraduate degree, I was lucky enough to be named a British Marshall scholar. This is a nationally competitive award where only up to 40 people in the entire United States are given the opportunity by the British government to study for a Masters or PhD degree in the UK in the spirit of the Marshall Plan to foster and strengthen the ties between the American and British peoples. When I found out I won, I immediately called my mentor and advisor at the Honors Tutorial College and shouted ‘We did it!” We were both so stunned by the news that we couldn’t believe it. She was ecstatic for me, and I was grateful to her for all of her help and encouragement. During my time as a Marshall scholar I was given amazing opportunities to meet influential people from Supreme Court Justice Stephen Bryer (a former Marshall Scholar) to the Prince of Wales.  It was one of the best experiences of my life.

John: You will soon begin an appointment as a Professor of Astronomy: What are your plans?
Keith: As a professor it is my aim to do cutting-edge science in the boundary between the fields of Stellar and Galactic Astronomy, teach the next generation of scientists, and inspire more underrepresented minorities to enter and stay in our field. My research group at UT Austin will focus on questions centered on the Milky Way’s formation, assembly, and evolution using its stars as my laboratory. As an observational astronomer, I am lucky to be at UT Austin, where I will have access to the many wonderful telescopes, ranging from 1-10meters, at McDonald Observatories to carry out my work with my students and postdocs. 
While my group will be very active in research, I will train each member to become an effective communicator of astronomy and encourage them to speak regularly to a growing and diverse public through outreach at the city, state, and national levels. It is my hope that every member of my group will leave with the ability to talk about astronomy with the experts and with someone that they have just met on a flight, a bus, or in the grocery store. As an African-American astronomer, I will spend the bulk of my career encouraging and supporting other minority students to join and continue in STEM fields.

John: In your opinion, what qualities make your work so unique and compelling?
Keith: My work has been focused on developing a better understanding of the structure of the Milky Way through large spectroscopic (like SDSS-APOGEE) and astrometric surveys (like ESA’s Gaia Mission). This ‘big data’ approach to stellar spectroscopy and Galactic science is relatively new and a very exciting field to be a part of. It has enabled me to make significant scientific contributions to questions about how to decompose the Milky Way’s components, how the Milky Way’s inner halo may have formed, and the use of helium burning red clump stars as standard candles. I have also made significant technical contributions such as making detailed improvements to the data products (specifically the chemical abundances) being derived from large spectroscopic surveys.  I often work in these cross-field boundaries (Galactic, Stellar, and data sciences) that enable me to apply concepts used regularly in one field to another.

John: Please tell me more about yourself. What’s your story and who or what inspired you to pursue a career in astronomy?
Keith: You know how they say: “it all begins with a crush…?” Well, they are right. For me astronomy and more generally science was never something I was interested in. In fact, I really wanted to be a firefighter. Then along came fifth grade, when I sat across from a girl that I had a crush on. She happened to like images of outer space. So to woo her (as much as a fifth grader can woo), I would talk to her about the images of space we saw. We would talk during class, much to the annoyance of my teachers. That year of school was particularly fun not because of the content of what we learned in class, but simply because I could sit near a particular person and speak to her about space. Unlike many middle schoolers, I woke up each morning excited to go to school. Sadly, the following year she moved away. In the midst of young heartbreak, I reminded myself of her by checking out the same encyclopedias of astronomy that we looked at together. By the time high school came around, astronomy was its own self-sustaining passion and I craved to learn more. 

In high school I was lucky enough to partake in a science research program with my twin brother at a local university. This program enabled me to complete several astronomy research projects that I entered into science fairs at the district, state, national, and international levels. One of those projects gave me the opportunity to do a summer of research at Ohio University (OU) with Prof. Markus Boettcher who not only believed in me but also encouraged me to continue with astronomy research when I became an  undergraduate at OU. In my last year of high school, my twin brother and I won the top two places at the Ohio Junior Science and Humanities Symposium and became the only two representatives of the state of Ohio at the national conference. These experiences helped me enormously when I entered college in 2009. 

With the help of OU Honors Tutorial College and close mentors, I successfully completed 3 summer research programs (an NSF REU at NOAO, the Caltech MURF program at Caltech, and an NSF REU at University of Hawai’i). Each of these provided me with the skills that would ultimately allow me to complete my PhD as a Marshall scholar at Cambridge  University in under 3 years.

John: What challenges or obstacles have you faced in pursuing your interests in astronomy? How have you overcome them?
Keith: I have found that one of the obstacles that I have faced, like many others, is Imposter Syndrome. Even today, I still face this. For me, it is the constant voice in the back of my head thinking that everyone will find out that I am not as good of an astronomer as they once thought and that I will lose the respect of my colleagues.  I have also struggled with the heavy weight that sometimes befalls minority students. I felt that I could never have a misstep during my undergraduate career because everyone was watching. When you're the first African-American to do something, sometimes there is a heavy weight to bear.  I have tried to overcome these through leaning on mentors, finding a healthy work-life balance, cycling, and focusing on inspiring the next generations of astronomers of color. 

Jorge: People of color are severely underrepresented in our field.  Can you point to any factors (specific programs, individual mentors, etc.) that helped you succeed?
Keith: The first line of my Ph.D. acknowledgment section reads: “There is an African proverb that says ‘it takes a village to raise a child.’ I think this also holds for a doctoral student; ‘it takes a village to raise a Ph.D.’ ”  

This statement rings true for me today as it did then. Finding a group of close mentors that I could trust is, in my opinion, what allowed me to succeed. For me those mentors were a handful of people that were of different ages, nationalities, and backgrounds. They acted as a sounding board for my ideas, advised me on career trajectory, and calmed me down when I dealt with the day-to-day micro/macro-aggressions in astronomy. It was also great to be in a program that connected me with other diverse students. Specific examples of the programs include: the TAURUS program at UT Austin, the Banneker and Aztlán Institute at Harvard, and the MURF program at Caltech. All of these programs have, in addition to research opportunities for undergraduate students, professional development, and a social justice aspect which make them unique compared to traditional research experiences.

John:  What advice would you give to other people with a similar background to yours who might be interested in following your path?
Keith: You will look up in your physics, mathematics, and astronomy classes and probably find that your are the only person of color in the room. You may also find that when you get a prestigious award or a faculty position that people will say: “You only got that because your black.” Do not let these things discourage you! There is a rapidly growing community of diverse astronomers that will support you. Believe in yourself and your abilities. 

Also find several strong mentors that you trust. Walking through astronomy as a person of color can be a very lonely experience, but finding mentors and peers of color can be very helpful in getting through the thick of it. Most of all, have fun! Astronomy, and the career path you choose should be fun. Otherwise why do it?

Finally, I will mention that while hard work and solid research are the backbone to getting a job in astronomy, there is an element of luck. Networking with others can help with that. Make sure you promote your science and engage with other astronomers, because they may one day hire you.  

John:  Any final words?

KeithI cannot thank enough the people (family, mentors, friends, colleagues) who have supported me over the years! This may sound cliche but it is honest and sincere, because without them I would in a very different place. 

John Johnson is a Professor of Astronomy at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and a member of the Committee on the Status of Minorities in Astronomy.