Wednesday, March 13, 2019

How Ashley Walker Shined a Necessary Light on Black Junior Astronomers




We have just finished celebrating Black History Month, and one of the most iconic events for the astronomy community happened on Twitter: the highlight of 53 Black junior astronomers by Ashley L. Walker. Junior astronomers already don't receive as much recognition as more senior members in the field, and Black astronomers receive much less. By highlighting these individuals, Ashley proved that there are already Black astronomers who are interested in and doing amazing research in astronomy. Now it's our job to make sure we retain them in the field. In our interview below, we asked Ashley about her motivation for this very important project.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

CSMA: First, congratulations on your amazing accomplishment, highlighting OVER 50 black astronomers in a single month! How do you feel about achieving that?

Ashley: Thank you. I really didn’t think that I was going to highlight over 50 Black Junior Astronomers. I’m really excited that I got a chance to share the culture of Black astronomy and making it a safe space.

CSMA: What made you decide to launch this initiative?

Ashley: I knew that Black History/Future Month was coming up and I wanted to pay homage to our African ancestors. Particularly, the ones that have died during the middle passage, during the civil war, and other horrific events leading up today’s society who could’ve been astronomers. I wanted to do something special for the unknown Black astronomers and thought that it would be awesome to highlight the current students that are studying astronomy. There’s ONLY 1% of Black people in Astronomy and I’m ready to fix that!

CSMA: How did you find all the Black astronomers you've featured?

Ashley: I actually knew a great majority of them personally but I did request that people message me via Twitter or add comments with names of people that are astronomers for the ones that I didn’t know. Some of them were even international students as well.

CSMA: What were the challenges you faced in putting together these highlights?

Ashley: I’m currently an undergraduate senior Chemistry major at Chicago State University. Finding time was definitely hard in-between studying, working, attending a conference, two Adler planetarium events (being on a panel for Adler After Dark “A Night in the Afrofuture” and the pop-up program), currently working on my project with the Horst Phazer Lab group at Johns Hopkins University along with writing about the project for my senior thesis. I was definitely doing a lot of science communication while highlighting students. Also, some of the students were busy as well.

CSMA: What do you hope will be the outcome of elevating fellow Black astronomers?

Ashley: I hope that people recognize that Black people are awesome!  This initiative should encourage others who are in positions of power whether for REUs, graduate and/or post-doc applications to recognize these individuals for their contributions to astronomy.

CSMA: What outcomes have you already seen?

Ashley: I have received A LOT of positive feedback. Hopefully, this will encourage others to go into astronomy related fields, whether it’s traditionally or non-traditionally.  

CSMA: How effective was Twitter as a medium for your work? Would you ever consider turning this into a website, news/magazine article, or book?

Ashley: This was REALLY effective! This brought awareness of the students that aren’t normally shown. A LOT of the time that I do speak out, there’s a certain person (which I highlighted) that I ALWAYS think of. I REALLY am grateful for this opportunity.


Yes, I would! So many people have asked me this. I’m definitely going make this into a website!


CSMA: How do you envision continuing or building on this initiative?

Ashley: I’m going to continue highlighting Black junior astronomers for BHM in October for the UK! So there will be a continuation.


I plan on making this into a mini-comic book series. I want to inspire Black and Brown students. If you see more representation in the classroom or even reading a book, then you’ll have a good outcome of students wanting to become astronomers.


CSMA: What advice do you have for others interested in promoting underrepresented astronomers or scientists?

Ashley: Continue highlighting students and people of color, invite them to outreach programs, diversity and inclusion talks, receive feedback from their perspectives.  Make spaces for them to be able to feel comfortable and succeed in astronomy/STEM fields. Put them in positions to win!

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Media platform "SisterSTEM" also witnessed the highlights and made a collection of all of the Black junior astronomers Ashley highlighted. Check it out below and be sure to follow these amazing astronomers.



Thank you for your important work and contributions to the field of astronomy, Ashley!


Ashley L. Walker is a native of Chicago, IL. She is a candidate for a Bachelor’s of Science in Chemistry in her senior year at Chicago State University (CSU) and a recipient of the Chi Sci scholarship. She has worked on galaxy surveys with the Undergraduate ALFALFA (Arecibo Legacy Fast ALFA) survey team, astrochemical scavenger hunts, and Hydrogen Cyanide in Protoplanetary Disks at the Banneker & Aztlán Institute. She is interested in astrochemistry with a focus on the early stages of planet formation. Currently, Ashley is conducting an internship at Johns Hopkins University with Dr. Sarah Hörst as her advisor. Her projects focus on Venus as well as Saturn’s moon, Titan. Recently, she was selected for and gave a talk at Science Speaks Chicago at the Adler Planetarium. Networking is one of Ashley’s strongest skills along with mentoring, activism, and leadership. She hopes to inspire a new generation of scientists, encouraging teenagers, adults, and Black women to continue their education regardless of their background and other obstacles in life. 


Call for Nominations: AAS Site Visit Team (Deadline Extended to March 24th)


From: Alicia Aarnio [anaarnio at uncg dot edu], Nicole Cabrera Salazar
[ncs at movebold dot ly], Stuart Vogel, Sheryl Bruff, KeShawn Ivory, Adam
Christensen, and Nancy Morrison [nancy dot morrison at utoledo dot edu] (the AAS SVOC)


The AAS Climate Site Visit program is getting underway. At the invitation of a
department's chair, a three-person site visit team will spend a day and a half
with the department, conduct interviews in order to assess the climate, and
draft a report. Departments will benefit by receiving constructive feedback from
an unbiased team of neutral, highly-qualified peers.

We are now assembling a pool of talented, accomplished people to conduct the site visits, from which a team of three people will be chosen, based on availability, for each site visit. We envision that each site visit team will consist of a senior astronomer, another astronomer of a different identity from that of the senior astronomer, and a specialist in human resources, diversity, or another relevant area.

Those performing this service will make a major contribution toward advancing
equity and inclusion in astronomy. There will be a modest honorarium for each
team member for each visit, and we expect that this experience will be
professionally valuable for anyone who has or aspires to a leadership position.

We invite nominations or self-nominations to the site visit team pool via this
questionnaire: http://bit.ly/sitevisit-team


The deadline to be considered for inclusion in the 2019 SVT pool
has been extended to March 24th, 2019. Later applications will be considered for future SVT pools.

Please don't hesitate to contact the SVOC (see the From: list of this message)
if you have questions about the site visit team pool.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Crosspost: Facing the Future: The CSWA seeks your input on our community needs in the 2020s!

From the CSWA

During 2018 the Committee on the Status of Women in Astronomy (CSWA) began an effort to gather information about what are seen by our communities as the areas of key importance beyond scientific research that the AAS, its divisions, and its relevant committees (including the CSWA itself) should focus on as we move into the 2020s.  The goal is to use this information to (1) develop one or more white papers that will be submitted to the Decadal Survey as a part of the call for papers on an activity, project, or state of the profession consideration and to (2) develop a new strategic plan for the CSWA for the 2020s.

Our strategy has been to first identify the key areas and potential activities that could be undertaken in these areas by the AAS, its divisions, or relevant committees. We have taken all the input we have received so far and created a survey based on that information.  Now we need you, the members of the communities the AAS and its divisions serve, to tell us which of the many wonderful activities and ideas that have been brought to our attention that you think will have the most impact and/or are the most important to focus on! (And tell us about anything we’ve missed!)  The survey is organized around 4 key areas: Harassment and Bullying; Creating Inclusive Environments; Professional Development, Hiring, and Retention; and Professional Ethics, and also provides an opportunity to provide additional feedback and suggestions.  The more input we have from you, the better we can plan to advocate for you and serve you!  So please take a few minutes to contribute your input – we can’t do it without you! 

The survey is completely confidential and anonymous– we are not gathering any personally identifiable information, nor are we capturing any information on who is accessing the survey. We estimate it will take approximately 10-15 minutes to complete the evaluation of the activities in the four subtopics. There are additional open-ended questions and room for suggestions that are optional to address in as much or as little detail as the respondent wishes. The survey will be open until Tuesday, April 23, 2019.  It can be accessed at:

https://goo.gl/forms/YEgYoTP4fKVtrSkx1

We look forward to hearing from you!

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Call for Nominations: AAS Site Visit Team (Deadline February 28th)

From: Alicia Aarnio [anaarnio at uncg dot edu], Nicole Cabrera Salazar
[ncs at movebold dot ly], Stuart Vogel, Sheryl Bruff, KeShawn Ivory, Adam
Christensen, and Nancy Morrison [nancy dot morrison at utoledo dot edu] (the AAS SVOC)


The AAS Climate Site Visit program is getting under way. At the invitation of a
department's chair, a three-person site visit team will spend a day and a half
with the department, conduct interviews in order to assess the climate, and
draft a report. Departments will benefit by receiving constructive feedback from
an unbiased team of neutral, highly-qualified peers.

We are now assembling a pool of talented, accomplished people to conduct the site visits, from which a team of three people will be chosen, based on availability, for each site visit. We envision that each site visit team will consist of a senior astronomer, another astronomer of a different identity from that of the senior astronomer, and a specialist in human resources, diversity, or another relevant area.

Those performing this service will make a major contribution toward advancing
equity and inclusion in astronomy. There will be a modest honorarium for each
team member for each visit, and we expect that this experience will be
professionally valuable for anyone who has or aspires to a leadership position.

We invite nominations or self-nominations to the site visit team pool via this
questionnaire: http://bit.ly/sitevisit-team


The deadline to be considered for inclusion in the 2019 SVT pool
is February 28th, 2019. Later applications will be considered for future SVT pool.

Please don't hesitate to contact the SVOC (see the From: list of this message)
if you have questions about the site visit team pool.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

People of Color Presenting at AAS 233


CSMA is proud to highlight presenters at the January 2019 AAS meeting who identify as People of Color.  Please direct any additions, corrections, and feedback to astronomyincolor [at] gmail.com

** Indicates that this person is applying for the Next Level (grad school, postdocs, etc)


Monday, January 7

Talks

** Bryan Terrazas (University of Michigan)
Graduate student
106.04D: The Role of Black Hole Feedback in Suppressing Star Formation in Central Galaxies

** Ekta Patel (University of Arizona)
Graduate student
106.06D: Revisiting the Dynamical History of the Local Group in the Era of High Precision Astrometry 

Aomawa Shields (UC Irvine)
Faculty
103.07: Hydrohalite Salt-albedo Feedback Could Cool M-dwarf Planets

Ka'iu Kimura (Imiloa Astronomy  Center of Hawaii)
Institute Director
101 Plenary Lecture: A Color Out of Space: ‘Oumuamua’s Brief and Mysterious Visit to the Solar System

** Yashashree Jadhav (Rochester Institute of Technology)
Graduate student
116.02: Monsters on the move: A search for supermassive black holes undergoing gravitational wave recoil

Know Your Power (Lauren Chambers, Nicole Cabrera Salazar, Lía Corrales, Dara Norman)
Special session


Posters

Qiana Hunt (University of Michigan)
Graduate Student
144.31: Find the Quenching Mechanism of a z ~ 0.7 Post-Starburst Galaxy

Erin Flowers (Princeton University)
Graduate Student
140.29: Getting to Know Your Star: A comparison of analytic techniques for deriving stellar parameters and abundances 

** Elizabeth Teng (Haverford College)
Undergraduate
153.12: Pipe it up: How NICER Data Filtration Methods Affect Time-of-Arrival Accuracy

** Osase Omoruyi (Yale University)
Undegraduate
154.03:  A WISE GLIMPSE of Star Formation in the Outer Milky Way 

Lauren Chambers (Space Telescope Science Institute)
Postbac Analyst
157.12: Preparing for JWST Commissioning Calibration and Science with the Multi-Instrument Ramp Generator (MIRaGe)

** David Zegeye (Haverford College | University of Minnesota)
undergraduate
151.02: Probing Additional Gravitational Lensing Effects of Supernova iPTF16geu

** Diego Garcia (Middlebury College)
Undergraduate
163.02: Determining the Evolutionary Status of HD 166191

** Marcell Howard (Case Western Reserve University)
Undergraduate
145.08: : Probing the Evolution of Galaxies by Stacking Stellar Mass

** Aylin Garcia Soto (MIT/Wesleyan University)
Postbac/Research Assistant
154.12: Different Observational Properties of the Leading and Trailing Edges of the KH 15D Circumbinary Ring

** Prasiddha Arunachalam (Rutgers University)
Graduate Student
150.12: A HST study of the proper motion of the forward shock of 0509-67.5: a supernova remnant in the LMC

Gaby Sanchez (UH Manoa)
Undergraduate
144.13: Testing a Dust-Immune Metallicity Diagnostic in Nearby Metal-Poor Dwarf Galaxies with Far-Infrared Spectroscopy

** Karen Perez  (Cornell University)
Undergraduate
149.11: A Method for Mitigating Jitter Noise in Pulsar Timing

** Sophia Singh (University of Southern California)
Graduate student
157.01: Thermal Blocking Filters for Infrared Applications

Nicole Arulanantham (University of Colorado Boulder)
Graduate Student
163.11: Tracing Inner Disk H2 and CO in Protoplanetary Systems with HST-COS 


Tuesday, January 8

Talks

Antonio J. Porras (Vanderbilt University)
Graduate student
230.05: Dissecting the Anatomy of Bulge and Disk Dominated Galaxies through DARK SAGE

** KeShawn Ivory (AAS Site Visit Oversight Committee + Rice University (alma mater)), Post-bacc
Nicole Cabrera Salazar (Movement Consulting)
Town Hall: Climate Site Visit Town Hall

J. Sebastian Pineda (CU Boulder)
Postdoc
204.03: FUMES: Simultaneous Optical and UV Spectroscopy of an M-dwarf Flare

Eileen Gonzales (CUNY Graduate Center | AMNH | Hunter College)
Graduate Student
218.07 (Beth Brown Talk): A Reanalysis of the Age of TRAPPIST-1

Gibor Basri (UC Berkeley)
Faculty (semi-retired)
219: Report of the 2018 AAS Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion in Astronomy Graduate Education

** Joey Rodriguez (Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian)
Postdoc
218.01: A Compact Multi-Planet System With A Significantly Misaligned Ultra Short Period Planet

** John F. Wu (Rutgers University)
Graduate student
230.03: Gas and galaxy evolution in extreme z ~ 1 clusters and extreme z ~ 0.2 starbursts

Posters

** Ashley L. Walker  (Chicago State University | Johns Hopkins University)
Undergraduate
255.02: Infrared Transmission and Reflection of Titan Aerosol Analogues Under Vacuum

** Russell Van Linge (UC San Diego)
Undergraduate
259.3: Tuning Into Brown Dwarfs: Long-Term Radio Monitoring of Two Ultra-cool Low-Mass Binaries

Romy Rodriguez (The Ohio State University)
Graduate student
259.45: Finding Flares on M dwarfs with ASAS-SN

** Pa Chia Thao (The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
Post baccalaureate
247.23: The Young Exoplanet K2-25b: Flat Spectrum and High Eccentricity 

Eileen Gonzales (CUNY Graduate Center | AMNH | Hunter College)
Graduate Student
259.01: Is TRAPPIST-1 a Unique M-dwarf Host Star?

** Jennifer Strafford (The Ohio State University)
Undergraduate
258.14: The Age Evolution of Radio Morphology of Supernova Remnants

Yssavo Camacho-Neves (Rutgers University)
Graduate student
258.06: Spectral divergence of the Type Iax Supernova SN 2014dt 

** Junellie González Quiles (University of Maryland - College Park)
Undergraduate Student 
247.2: Prioritizing Exoplanet Targets for Atmospheric Study using NASA’s TESS Mission

Dhanesh (DK) Krishnarao (University of Wisconsin-Madison)
Graduate Student
257.02: Online Astronomy Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison 

** Leonardo Ruales  (Stony Brook University )
Undergraduate 
261.03: Quantifying the Lensing Power of Cosmic Telescopes

** Nicel Mohamed-Hinds (Stanford University)
Undergraduate 
261.12: Using Machine Learning to Predict the Masses of Galaxy Clusters
iPosters

Dhanesh (DK) Krishnarao (University of Wisconsin-Madison)
Graduate Student
267.03: Ionized Gas Near Galactic Center: Physical Parameters and Mass Estimates


Wednesday, January 9

Talks

Laura Mayorga (Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian)
Postdoc
326.06: Cassini Phase Curves of the Galilean Satellites and Implications for Direct-Imaging of Icy Exoplanets 

Ferah Munshi (University of Oklahoma )
Faculty 
351.21: Into darkness: what the MARVEL-ous Dwarf simulation can tell us about star formation

Erin Cox (Northwestern University )
Postdoc
320.07: Using ALMA to push the limits of mapping magnetic fields in protostars

Carlos Eduardo Munoz Romero (Grinnell College)
Undergraduate
301.05: Characterizing Exoplanets with SKYWALKER: An Open Source Multi-Model Spitzer Self-Calibration Pipeline

Malena Rice (Yale University)
Graduate student
302.02: An Occultation Network as a Detector of Distant Solar System Objects

Hwihyun Kim (Gemini Observatory)
Assistant Scientist
342.03: Selection and Identification of LEGUS cluster candidates 

Posters

Mia de los Reyes (Caltech)
Graduate student
366.03: Revisiting the Integrated Star Formation Law

** Danielle Rowland (Columbia University / STScI)
Undergraduate
351.01: Satellite Galaxy Characteristics in the SAGA Survey 

** Evan Haze Nunez (California State Polytechnic University - Pomona | Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics)
Undergraduate
364.16: Using Distant Galaxies to Constraing the Ionizing Photon Budget of Massive Stars

Rodolfo Montez Jr. (Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian)
Scientist
364.13: XMM-Newton observations of the AGB star chi Cyg and post-AGB star U Mon

Sinclaire Manning (The University of Texas at Austin)
Graduate Student
368.08: Radio Morphologies of Dust Obscured Starbursts in the SuperCLASS Field 

Betsy Hernandez (Princeton University )
Post baccalaureate 
369.18:  Migration of Embedded Black Holes in Active Galactic Nucleus Disk Simulations

** Sierra Garza (California State Polytechnic University - Pomona)
Undergraduate
359.06: First Steps Investigating the Relationship between Solar Surface Magnetic Field and Coronal Soft X-Ray Spectra

Lina Florez (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)
Undergraduate
363.22: Characterizing OH Sky Spectra Using SDSS BOSS Data 

Tharindu Jayasinghe  (The Ohio State University )
Graduate Student
360.06: Constructing an all-sky catalog of bright variable stars with ASAS-SN

** Tenley Hutchinson-Smith (Spelman College)
Undergraduate
348.2: Variability of Hundreds of X-ray Binaries

** Oscar Cantua (The University of Texas at San Antonio)
Undergraduate student
368.07: The old the red and the dusty

Aleezah Ali  (University of Washington )
Undergraduate student
348.12: Optical and Infrared Observations of the T Tauri Binary KH 15D

** Bayu Wilson (University of Washington)
Undergraduate 
355.1: The Lyman-beta Power Spectrum from the XQ-100 Legacy Survey

** Marcus Dupont (Florida State University)
Undergraduate
359.04: Comparative Study of the Solar Wind: Modeling Charge State Distributions in the Heliosphere


Thursday, January 10

Talks

** Natalia Guerrero (MIT)
Research associate
423.03: TESS Objects of Interest Catalog for Sectors 1-4 of the TESS Mission
** Amber V. Britt (Fisk University)
Master’s Student
402.06: Coronagraph Simulations with LUVOIR and HabEx: A New Era of Exoplanet Characterization

Ray Sharma (Rutgers University)
Graduate
435.04: Hungry Heart: Black Holes in Simulated Dwarf Galaxies

Catherine Espaillat (Boston University)
Assistant professor
421 Plenary Lecture: From Disks to Planets: Observing Planet Formation in Disks Around Young Stars
Posters

Theron Carmichael (Harvard University)
Graduate student
465.01: Exploring the Brown Dwarf Desert: Short-period substellar companions from the Kepler and K2 missions

** Gabriel Casabona (University of Massachusetts Dartmouth)
Graduate student
456.07: Detonation Initiation in Type Ia Supernovae