Academics » Graduate Awards
|Recent honoree Jeff Coughlin (Zia Award)|
The Zia Award
The Zia Award recognizes outstanding research by a graduate student in the NMSU Astronomy Department. Recent honorees include the following.
Excepts from recent nomination letters:
"Sebastian Trujillo-Gomez has blossomed into an independent researcher and productive collaborator whose recent record of publications and citations is a result of sustained work over a number of years. He is genuinely interested in others' research, imaginative in his own research, and strives to make connections to many members of the department."
"Michael Kirk has showed tremendous independence at a very early stage in his research career. He has forged new collaborations with the Air Force Research Lab, where he has twice been a Space Scholar over the summer months. His publication record is strengthened further by his presentations at conferences and colloquia, both nationally and internationally."
"Michael's research maturity is best described as the ability to find problems on his own ... we all like to see graduate students take the initiative."
"Mike Sussman conducted a study of the use of streamlines to derive wind speeds within vortices and applied this method to Jupiter's Oval BA. This project grew out of a chance conversation in the hallway with Reta Beebe one day, and was not something he had planned as part of his Ph.D. dissertation research. Nonetheless, he developed a number of sophisticated computational tools to demonstrate this new approach for wind speed derivation."
"The focus of Mike's Ph.D. dissertation research is to explore the role that seasonally varying insolation plays in driving atmospheric dynamics on Uranus. Mike is using the EPIC giant planet atmospheric modeling code, and has been singlehandedly responsible for a number of major improvements to this code, including the inclusion of an external heat source (the Sun), the addition of spectrally accurate absorption in the atmosphere, the use of methane as a passive tracer in the atmosphere, and the implementation of pressure-induced molecular hydrogen opacity."
"Mike has a rare intuitive feel for the physics of atmospheric dynamics. He is as happy and comfortable talking about topics like potential vorticity and atmospheric spin-up experiments as most people are talking about the weather. He tackled the difficult and controversial topic of planetary wind speed measurements as a graduate student, publishing a significant paper on this topic, and he is contributing new and fundamental results about the role that changing sunlight plays in driving Uranian atmospheric dynamics."
"In this department, the name Jeff Coughlin is synonymous with research."
"Jeff has continually demonstrated his commitment to world-class research. The sheer volume of successful observing proposals he has been granted, the prestige of the grants he has been awarded, and the quality of the publications he has contributed to the scientific community in the last year make obvious this comment."
"Jessica Evans presented a poster at the Gas Accretion and Star Formation in Galaxies meeting (Garching, Germany) in September 2007, and gave an excellent contributed talk at the Gas Physics and Galaxies Evolution meeting (Irvine, CA) in February 2008. She assisted with specialized calculations on several occasions, for which she earned a contributing author credit on two published papers. She has also been a key APO observer for a long-term observing program."
"Glenn Kacprzak's work has had a large impact on the domestic and international community. He has attended four international conferences and given talks at two of them, and his work has already been cited in journal publications by other authors 47 times to date. Glenn's meeting attendance has not only enhanced his research and future job prospects, it has enhanced the recognition of our department on local, national, and international levels."
"Because of his intense work ethic and research accomplishments, Glenn is an ideal role model for all students in the astronomy department. He is always willing to share his knowledge and advice with others. He provides a standard to other students of what graduate school, ultimately, is all about."
"Daniel Ceverino-Rodriguez presented a poster on the effects of stellar feedback at the IAU Symposium 245 which won first prize - his was the best poster of the entire symposium, as judged by more than 200 experts in the field of galactic structure."
"We often rely on the help of our graduate students when preparing grant proposals. This year Daniel's scientific results were instrumental in our receiving two NSF grants, bringing roughly $500,000 of research funds to the astronomy department. This was not about Daniel helping out by making plots and such - this was about his research, and his results, making the scientific case in an extraordinary way."
"Ashley Ruiter leaped to an early start in performing research at NMSU, and is a standout in this regard. She was the first author on a manuscript recently published in the prestigious Astrophysical Journal Letters, and played a prominent role as a co-author of two more published papers. Her work in population synthesis calculations has enabled the first actual calculations of the number of faint white dwarf x-ray sources in the Galactic Centre. Her strong research efforts indicate great promise, and she has a bright future ahead of herself in the field of stellar astrophysics."
"Joe Helmboldt has completed a large Ph.D. project that produced significant results on an important stage in galaxy evolution, star formation in galaxies at diverse ends of the Hubble Sequence, and was characterized by remarkable independence on his part. He is the lead author on the five derivative journal papers for a very good reason: he did all the work."
|Recent honoree Candace Gray (Pegasus Award)|
The Pegasus Award
The Pegasus Award recognizes outstanding teaching by a graduate student in the NMSU Astronomy Department. Recent honorees include the following.
Excepts from recent nomination letters:
"Malynda Chizek's dedication and commitment to teaching is exemplary. Her enthusiasm for astronomy and her ability to explain both concepts and the importance of each concept are outstanding. She combines this with a rapport with the students, a personal drive to both improve laboratory material and design her own lab exercises, and a calmness when faced with difficult situations."
"Candace Gray has displayed an exceptional ability and enthusiasm in her role as Teaching Assistant. I have been most impressed by her willingness to go the extra mile in ensuring each and every student obtained the best learning experience in her classes. Of particular note is the way she altered labs, and sometime rewrote them, to help students better understand complex subjects. She also devoted extra attention to students who required help outside of the usual class setting."
"Enthusiasm is often remarked on as the quality that inspires students the most; Candace excels in this aspect."
"Maria Patterson has served as a teaching assistant for several professors in the Astronomy Department to date, and has received good marks for her careful work with undergraduate students. She is popular with the students whom she teaches, and her good communication and time organization skills made her a joy to have as a teaching assistant. Maria has been organized in conducting laboratory sessions, has volunteered extra time at the campus observatory, and was proactive in grading assignments fairly and consistently and providing feedback to her students. She has a strong desire to help non-scientists to understand and enjoy modern science."
"Maria's desire to teach, and to teach well, is sincere, and her efforts have been of great benefit to the students who have been placed under her tutelage."
"Tanya Tavenner has consistently done an outstanding job as a teaching assistant for ASTR305 (Life in the Universe), working with several professors on the development and improvement of this course. Her knowledge of the course content is outstanding, and goes above and beyond what I consider to be standard for a teaching assistant. She has certainly reached the point where she could teach this class by herself, and be a very effective instructor."
"When I first taught ASTR305, I implemented several new teaching strategies, including the use of clickers and a team-based learning paradigm. Tanya was not fazed by these changes; on the contrary, she embraced them and helped me to identify the strengths and weaknesses of my approach. This enabled me to make real-time improvements to the course before the end of the semester (when it would be too late to help my current students)."
"Jiehae Choi is willing to go to great lengths to help her students to get back on course after disaster strikes. The result is that students who quite possibly would have ended the semester with grades of "D", "F", or "I", drifting away from us, end up under her management passing the class - Jiehae simply will not give up on her students."
"Jiehae and a blind student went on to develop a clever technique for allowing him to trace stellar distributions upon the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram (for the final exam), using coins of different sizes to help him to "walk" his fingers across set spaced lengths corresponding to temperature increases ..."
"Cat Wu's formal and informal student evaluations demonstrate her ability to teach, and the feedback from her students is very positive. Their comments highlight three of Cat's greatest attributes: (1) Cat is knowledgeable, and is able to convey the material in such a way that students can understand and relate to it easily; (2) Cat takes the time to answer every question a student has, and will further make sure that they understand the answer, no matter who long it takes; (3) Cat's presentation skills are exceptional. These qualities are, in my opinion, the makings of a future professor."
"Cat has the ability to create a relaxed environment, where students can feel comfortable asking questions and discussing lab topics within their discussion groups. She rotates from group to group posing questions and leading students to the correct answers, making sure that they arrive at the correct destination through the combined efforts of each individual in the group. Many times groups call her over to settle an issue because they have been arguing (quite extensively) about topics introduced in her mini-lectures."
"James Stockton's supervisors all speak well of his enthusiasm for working with students. He is popular with the undergraduates whom he teaches, who cite his well-prepared presentations and good delivery style in the laboratory and classroom. His work as a teaching assistant showcases his strong desire to help non-scientists to understand and enjoy modern science."
"Mike Sussman is serving ably as the head of our campus observatory efforts this semester, not only running the telescopes on open nights but staying on top of instrumental issues and providing training sessions for other T.A.s. Few of our students are asked to teach both ASTR105 and ASTR110, and Mike has cheerfully developed a new set of laboratory and short lecture materials for ASTR110 this fall, having put considerable effort into similar efforts in the previous year for ASTR105."
"Jim Norwood began as a graduate assistant with virtually no teaching experience, but he quickly overcame any uneasiness about being in front of a classroom to become an excellent teaching assistant. His students have repeatedly commented to me that they appreciate the extra time he spends with them to explain difficult concepts. Jim's creativity and motivation have improved the quality of our undergraduate instruction and are in direct alignment with the teaching mission of NMSU."
"I am particularly pleased with the dedication that Mike Sussman and Jim Norwood showed last year in teaching ASTR105, where both T.A.s attended each other laboratory sessions as a matter of course in order to produce the best combined lessons through joint effort."
|Recent honoree Liz Klimek (Rappaport Award)|
The Rappaport Award
The Barry Neil Rappaport Scholarship acknowledges outstanding public service by a graduate student in the NMSU Astronomy Department. It is awarded bi-annually in recognition of an exceptional record of public outreach and service or for an exceptional completed research project in observational astronomy which demonstrates excellence and breadth. Recent honorees include the following.
Excepts from recent nomination letters:
"Liz Klimek has shown an outstanding ability in combining astrophysics research with taking a leading role in public outreach activities. In addition to volunteering above and beyond the expected hours at Sky Safari and campus observatory, she also played a key role in the the department’s participation in Relay for Life. Her events at local schools are always enjoyed by the students and I have been impressed by her participation in planetarium conferences and teaching workshops."
"Liz combines an ability to understand complex research concepts with an ability to explain those concepts at all levels."
"While I do not work directly with Jillian Bornak on her research, I have been impressed with her ability to talk about her work clearly and concisely. I have seen her give talks both within the NMSU Astronomy Department and at external venues (e.g., the New Mexico Symposium), and she has consistently been a clear, motivating, and engaging speaker whose familiarity with her research area shines through in her presentations. She has published one first-author paper in a refereed journal, has presented posters at three American Astronomical Society meetings, and is the first author of at least one other conference proceedings abstract."
"Jillian is the type of student who makes a habit of dropping by to discuss topics months after a class has ended, because she is still mulling them over in her mind."
"I knew Barry Rappaport from 1979 until his untimely death. If he was in our department today, I could guarantee that Doug Hoffman's thesis is exactly the type of project that Barry would have liked to have undertaken. Barry had a passion for charting the heavens, and the classification of previously unrecognized variable stars would have thrilled him."
"Doug Hoffman was the lead author on a 2006 Astronomical Journal paper which utilizes several data sets (AAVSO proved, NMSU 1-meter obtained) to constrain the process(es) involved in the timing changes of certain eclipsing binary systems. He also served as the Vice President of the AGSO (with the responsibility of coordinating most outreach requests for the astronomy department for a full year). During Fall 2006 a request came in from Berino Elementary School for a weeknight observing event. Doug coordinated graduate student participation, arranged for telescopes to be available, and participated in the event himself. Student, teachers, and parents were very appreciative, and displayed their appreciation in the form of a 12-foot long hand drawn and signed banner delivered to the department."
"Melinda Kahre represents the best of what we hope to produce in our program: a talented, intelligent astronomer/planetary scientist who considers it an obligation to give back to the community the excitement of the work in which she is privileged to be engaged. She participated in at least nine outreach activities last year, spanning the range from young students (a six-week course astronomy class for middle school students) to mature learners wishing to increase their knowledge of the world around them (public talks at the Golden West retirement home, and the Las Cruces Natural History Museum). Melinda had a spectacular year in research, and was the lead author on three peer-reviewed journal papers on the effects of Martian dust redistribution on planetary albedo, on mechanisms involved in inter-annual variability in global Martian dust, and on climate history and the interpretation of various geological features tied to Martian surface dust reservoirs."
|Recent honoree Maria Patterson (Murrell Award), enjoying a moment of fun while participating in a HALOGAS research meeting in Holland.|
The Murrell Award
The Murrell Award recognizes outstanding research or professional development, and related accomplishments that raise the visibility of the NMSU Astronomy Department. This award was created in memory of Scott Murrell, long-time planetary researcher and true friend of the NMSU Astronomy Program. It was first awarded in 2005.
Excepts from recent nomination letters:
Maria Patterson has excelled in several aspects of the Westerbork Synthesis Radio Telescope (WSRT) Hydrogen Accretion in LOcal GAlaxieS (HALOGAS) collaboration, above and beyond the level expected of graduate students. Her roles in working with astronomers from the University of New Mexico and Europe, presenting an invited talk where she represented the collaboration, organizing a HALOGAS meeting at NMSU and her success with National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO) proposals has significantly raised the profile of the NMSU astronomy department.
"When it comes to both productivity and impact on a research field, Jeff Coughlin has excelled far beyond normal expectations. His outstanding publication record in the past few years of twelve journal papers (including seven first author articles) and his work with Dr Harrison on exoplanets has brought a notoriety to NMSU among the Kepler community. This has raised the reputation of our department at an opportune time in exoplanetary studies."
"Ryan Hamilton has made significant contributions within and outside of his primary research field of cataclysmic variable stars. His work has brought positive visibility to himself and the NMSU Astronomy Department. Ryan contributed significantly to the success of the recent NMSU LCROSS observation effort. He took a leading role in observing with the Tortugas Mountain Observatory 24-inch telescope, crafting a mosaic of south polar lunar images for use in identifying the impact site. He created a website to freely distribute the images to the entire astronomy community. This mosaic proved to be the most accurate LCROSS pre-impact site image, in terms of corresponding lunar phase, libration, and crater shadowing conditions. It was redistributed on websites by NASA and by Sky & Telescope Magazine, and even honored as the Astronomy Picture of the Day the day before the LCROSS impact."
"Most students in a doctoral program are happy to focus on research and think of teaching as a stepping-stone toward their degree; Paul Strycker is different. Paul has been the first author on six conference proceedings and journal papers exploring color variations in the Jovian atmosphere. His passion for teaching has led him to complete more than 160 hours of professional development classes from NMSU's Teaching Academy. He conducted a Teaching Academy workshop on how definitions can be used to engage students in the life of your discipline, and serves on the advisory board of the Academy by invitation. In Fall 2010, Paul was the primary instructor for an Astronomy 110 class, for which he created a new hands-on learning tool for lunar observations. Over the last few years, I have had the pleasure of seeing him evolve from a graduate student into a burgeoning professor."
"One of Chas Miller's research projects involved observations of mutual events of several Uranian satellites. This project was completely initiated by Chas during Uranus' equinoctial season in 2007-2008. He applied for all of the APO 3.5-meter telescope time needed for this project, acquired the data, and conducted the analysis on his own. This resulted in a published Icarus Note (Miller & Chanover 2009), and represents one of the first published science results stemming from the use of the new Agile camera at APO. Due to Chas' expertise with Agile, we have been approached by several internationally known research groups to observe other time-critical solar system events that are visible from a limited number of locations on Earth. Chas has taken the lead on all of these events, and is working with collaborators at SwRI, SSI, and Caltech on the interpretation of the data."
"Chas is also involved in the LCROSS lunar impact mission, coordinating observations from the 3.5-meter at APO, the 1-meter at APO, and the 24-inch Tortugas telescope with other observatories world-wide. This mission has garnered press coverage from local media, in which Chas has been prominently featured and quoted, and I have no doubt as the event draws closer we will see Chas in even larger publications. This press coverage is essential to winning the public's support for future missions of this kind, and generously highlights NMSU Astronomy as a major NASA collaborator."
"In the last year, Daniel Ceverino-Rodriguez has been active in presenting his work at various institutions both in the United States and around the world. He has given scientific talks at the Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics in Toronto (CITA), the University of Chicago, and the Center for Astrophysics (Cambridge, MA). He also presented a poster at a meeting in Oxford, UK, on The Formation and Evolution of Galaxy Bulges."
"Daniel has authored one refereed first-author journal article and has four other papers appearing on the astro-ph preprint server. His participation in meetings and collaborations at other institutions brings positive attention to the NMSU astronomy department, as the results of Daniel's work on galaxy formation in the framework of cosmological simulations are now being sought after by other astronomers in related fields. His hard work has contributed to the further understanding of galaxy evolution, and the results of his research have helped make the astronomical community more aware of our astronomy department."
"In addition to her research and journal papers, Ashley Ruiter has already become known in wide and active circles involving the gravitational radiation, x-ray and Type Ia Supernova communities. This originates from the simple fact that she has spent a significant amount of time and effort in collaborating, presenting and participating in international scientific activities. She is already starting to be recognized, and her activity and research is connected directly by various research groups to NMSU."
"I believe that Ashley has made research contributions during the past year, but more importantly she has participated in a summer school and a LISA conference, and will be attending another summer school during 2007. These activities say much in regard to Ashley's aspiration for development, and her participation in these events does raise the visibility of this Astronomy department."
"Glenn Kacprzak's research accomplishments run far and wide. In the last year he has given talks at two international conferences (including an IAU Symposium), and co-authored two journal papers, all in the field of quasar absorption line systems. Glenn has made a powerful impact on the scientific community and developed as a scientist at an above-average rate in a very short time."
"Glenn was the only graduate student to be granted a talk at the recent IAU Symposium on QSO Absorption Line Systems. Perhaps the most intimidating thing a graduate student can do is to give a talk in front those who will have the power to employ him in the near future. Glenn handled all of the questions about his talk with ease, and had no problem convincing those who attended the conference of the importance of his work."
|Recent honorees Jillian Bornak (Rappaport Award), Jeff Coughlin (Zia and Murrell Awards), Chas Miller (Murrell Award), and Tanya Tavenner (Pegasus Award) showcase the determination and steadfast demeanors that distinguish them and their work.|