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  • richardmitnick 9:34 am on July 19, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Statistical analysis quantifies how chemistry undergraduates benefit from graduate student diversity", , , Insights for breaking down barriers, Statistics aligned with lived experience, University of California-Santa Cruz (US)   

    From University of California-Santa Cruz (US) : “Statistical analysis quantifies how chemistry undergraduates benefit from graduate student diversity” 

    From University of California-Santa Cruz (US)

    July 15, 2021
    Allison Arteaga Soergel
    asoergel@ucsc.edu

    1
    Julia Martin prepares a solution as part of her chemistry research. Martin graduated in 2019, but during her time at University of California-Santa Cruz (US), she participated in the Maximizing Access to Research Careers (MARC) program through the university’s STEM Diversity Office, which works to support underrepresented students in STEM fields. TA’s also play an important role in classroom success for undergraduate students, as a new statistical analysis shows.

    Diversity among graduate student teaching assistants (TAs) may be among the most essential factors in retaining underrepresented minority undergraduate students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) courses, according to statistical evidence from a new study set to publish in the August issue of the Economics of Education Review.

    A team of economists and chemists at University of California-Santa Cruz (US) gathered and analyzed data from more than 4,000 students in general chemistry labs at the university over a five-year period to show that—among undergraduate students who were Latinx, Black, Native American, Native Alaskan or Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander—course drop rates decreased from 6 percent to 0.5 percent, and pass rates increased from 93.6 percent to 98.4 percent when these students were assigned a TA who was also a member of a racial or ethnic minority group.

    “There are just not that many interventions that make that much of a difference in education,” said Economics Professor Rob Fairlie, the senior author on the paper. “I thought we would find something, but I was surprised that the effect was so big.”

    The study controlled for variability in individual teaching and learning abilities and also found no effect of TA-student pairings on course grades. This led the paper’s authors to conclude that the large demonstrated changes in drop and pass rates likely result from how TA-student interactions influence a student’s decision of whether or not to stick with a course.

    “One huge implication of this study is that sometimes people question whether the instructor or TA can alter student decisions, and I think we clearly document that,” said Daniel Oliver, lead author of the paper who is now a senior research fellow at Tulane University (US). Oliver worked on the study while completing his Ph.D. in economics at UCSC.

    Statistics aligned with lived experience

    The most significant trend driving the paper’s results was specifically how Latinx students benefited from having a TA of the same ethnic background. David Delgadillo, a graduate student and former TA in the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department at University of California-Santa Cruz (US), said he has felt a sense of validation from the study’s findings.

    “For me, being Latino in STEM and having gone through the process as a student myself and then transitioning into that teaching role, I can say that I think it’s easy to be intimidated in these courses, especially if you don’t have family members or friends that have gone through the process,” he said. “But with TAs, that first initial interaction with somebody that you feel represents you or represents a struggle that you’ve gone through really lowers the entry barrier into being a successful student in these classes.”

    As a TA, Delgadillo said that he always worked hard to create a welcoming environment in the classroom and to boost student confidence because he understood how much pressure students might be under, particularly if they came from marginalized communities.

    “There’s this extra level of stress and this thought process of ‘I need to perform well and do everything perfectly, or my one opportunity to move up the social ladder is done,’ and that’s the complex that you can sometimes go into it with as a student,” Delgadillo said. “I think what really helps is being welcomed into that course by somebody who can understand that sense of pressure. Someone who lets you know that it’s okay and that you’re going to make mistakes and struggle a little bit, but if you keep going and keep pushing, you’ll eventually persevere.”

    The new paper demonstrates how economists can contribute to conversations around these issues by helping to quantify the impacts of what students and TAs are experiencing.

    “As economists, our training is to do statistical work with these big data sets and carefully set up analyses that can affirm many personal stories in chemistry and the sciences,” said Rob Fairlie. “And our interest is in trying to create equity.”

    Insights for breaking down barriers

    Statistics from the National Science Foundation (US) in 2015 showed that, while Latinx, Black, Native American, Native Alaskan or Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander people represented 26 percent of the U.S. adult population, people from these groups collectively accounted for about 13 percent of the nation’s highest degree holders in science and engineering and made up 10 percent of the workforce in related fields. These disparities in representation can have profound economic impacts, since careers in science and engineering tend to be higher-paid.

    Glenn Millhauser, a distinguished professor and chair of the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department at University of California-Santa Cruz (US), said he hopes the new study’s results will help higher education institutions provide better support for students from minority communities who are entering science-based fields. Millhauser was a coauthor on the paper, along with chemistry lecturer Randa Roland, and both helped to design the study.

    “We want to provide a meaningful sense of inclusion, along with instruction that leads to real success, so that students feel part of the STEM community and are provided with the tools for more advanced studies and degrees,” Millhauser said.

    The new paper indicates that one way universities can help to break down barriers to entry in STEM fields is through continued improvements in recruiting and support for graduate student instructors and faculty from diverse backgrounds. And, ultimately, all instructors, regardless of their ethnic or racial backgrounds, must be accountable for understanding and adapting to the needs of their students.

    A’Lester Allen, a doctoral candidate in physical chemistry who has been a TA for general chemistry and other courses, said he would love to see increased representation among professors, graduate students, and staff. However, he says it’s also important to ensure that the responsibility for student success is not placed disproportionately upon instructors from minority communities.

    “I think what needs to happen is a little soul-searching by everyone to build an understanding of what it’s like from the perspective of historically disadvantaged students coming into these classes, so that the instructors can see all of the barriers in the way that students see them,” Allen said. “Maybe then those barriers can be removed.”

    ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________
    For more information on diversity in the sciences at University of California-Santa Cruz (US) and related undergraduate and graduate student resources and support programs, please visit the Science Division’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion page and the Office of STEM Diversity Programs website. The Office of STEM Diversity Programs at University of California-Santa Cruz (US) is an umbrella office that includes programs funded by the National Institutes of Health (US), the National Science Foundation, and UCOP, as well as state-funded and donor-supported programs.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    UC Santa Cruz (US) Lick Observatory Since 1888 Mt Hamilton, in San Jose, California, Altitude 1,283 m (4,209 ft)

    UC Observatories Lick Automated Planet Finder fully robotic 2.4-meter optical telescope at Lick Observatory, situated on the summit of Mount Hamilton, east of San Jose, California, USA.

    The UCO Lick C. Donald Shane telescope is a 120-inch (3.0-meter) reflecting telescope located at the Lick Observatory, Mt Hamilton, in San Jose, California, Altitude 1,283 m (4,209 ft).
    UC Santa Cruz (US) campus.

    The University of California-Santa Cruz (US) , opened in 1965 and grew, one college at a time, to its current (2008-09) enrollment of more than 16,000 students. Undergraduates pursue more than 60 majors supervised by divisional deans of humanities, physical & biological sciences, social sciences, and arts. Graduate students work toward graduate certificates, master’s degrees, or doctoral degrees in more than 30 academic fields under the supervision of the divisional and graduate deans. The dean of the Jack Baskin School of Engineering oversees the campus’s undergraduate and graduate engineering programs.

    UCSC is the home base for the Lick Observatory.

    UCO Lick Observatory’s 36-inch Great Refractor telescope housed in the South (large) Dome of main building.

    Search for extraterrestrial intelligence expands at Lick Observatory
    New instrument scans the sky for pulses of infrared light
    March 23, 2015
    By Hilary Lebow


    Astronomers are expanding the search for extraterrestrial intelligence into a new realm with detectors tuned to infrared light at UC’s Lick Observatory. A new instrument, called NIROSETI, will soon scour the sky for messages from other worlds.

    “Infrared light would be an excellent means of interstellar communication,” said Shelley Wright, an assistant professor of physics at UC San Diego (US) who led the development of the new instrument while at the U Toronto Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics (CA).

    Shelley Wright of UC San Diego with (US) NIROSETI, developed at U Toronto Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics (CA) at the 1-meter Nickel Telescope at Lick Observatory at UC Santa Cruz

    Wright worked on an earlier SETI project at Lick Observatory as a UC Santa Cruz undergraduate, when she built an optical instrument designed by University of California-Berkeley (US) researchers. The infrared project takes advantage of new technology not available for that first optical search.

    Infrared light would be a good way for extraterrestrials to get our attention here on Earth, since pulses from a powerful infrared laser could outshine a star, if only for a billionth of a second. Interstellar gas and dust is almost transparent to near infrared, so these signals can be seen from great distances. It also takes less energy to send information using infrared signals than with visible light.

    Frank Drake, professor emeritus of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz and director emeritus of the SETI Institute, said there are several additional advantages to a search in the infrared realm.

    Frank Drake with his Drake Equation. Credit Frank Drake.

    “The signals are so strong that we only need a small telescope to receive them. Smaller telescopes can offer more observational time, and that is good because we need to search many stars for a chance of success,” said Drake.

    The only downside is that extraterrestrials would need to be transmitting their signals in our direction, Drake said, though he sees this as a positive side to that limitation. “If we get a signal from someone who’s aiming for us, it could mean there’s altruism in the universe. I like that idea. If they want to be friendly, that’s who we will find.”

    Scientists have searched the skies for radio signals for more than 50 years and expanded their search into the optical realm more than a decade ago. The idea of searching in the infrared is not a new one, but instruments capable of capturing pulses of infrared light only recently became available.

    “We had to wait,” Wright said. “I spent eight years waiting and watching as new technology emerged.”

    Now that technology has caught up, the search will extend to stars thousands of light years away, rather than just hundreds. NIROSETI, or Near-Infrared Optical Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, could also uncover new information about the physical universe.

    “This is the first time Earthlings have looked at the universe at infrared wavelengths with nanosecond time scales,” said Dan Werthimer, UC Berkeley SETI Project Director. “The instrument could discover new astrophysical phenomena, or perhaps answer the question of whether we are alone.”

    NIROSETI will also gather more information than previous optical detectors by recording levels of light over time so that patterns can be analyzed for potential signs of other civilizations.

    “Searching for intelligent life in the universe is both thrilling and somewhat unorthodox,” said Claire Max, director of UC Observatories and professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz. “Lick Observatory has already been the site of several previous SETI searches, so this is a very exciting addition to the current research taking place.”

    NIROSETI will scan the skies several times a week on the Nickel 1-meter telescope at Lick Observatory, located on Mt. Hamilton east of San Jose.

     
  • richardmitnick 9:20 am on July 17, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Physics PhD student receives Graduate Instrumentation Research Award", , University of California-Santa Cruz (US), Yuzhan Zhao   

    From University of California-Santa Cruz (US) : “Physics PhD student receives Graduate Instrumentation Research Award” 

    From University of California-Santa Cruz (US)

    July 14, 2021
    Tim Stephens
    stephens@ucsc.edu

    1
    Yuzhan Zhao.

    Yuzhan Zhao, a third-year Ph.D. student in physics at UC Santa Cruz, has received a Graduate Instrumentation Research Award (GIRA) from the American Physical Society (US).

    The award supports Zhao’s research with physics professor Bruce Schumm at the Santa Cruz Institute for Particle Physics (SCIPP). Zhao is working on the development of low-gain avalanche diode silicon detectors, which feature excellent timing resolution for measuring particle interactions. Specifically, the award is for the further development of the “deep junction” low-gain avalanche detector, for which Zhao holds intellectual property rights, along with Schumm, postdoctoral fellow Simone Mazza, and fellow graduate student Carolyn Gee.

    These detectors have applications in particle physics experiments and accelerator beam monitoring. SCIPP is an international leader in the development of silicon detectors for high-energy physics experiments and other applications.

    “This award is a wonderful acknowledgement of Yuzhan’s accomplishments in instrumentation,” Schumm said.

    The GIRA program aims to encourage and facilitate greater involvement of physics graduate students in significant instrumentation development, to boost recognition of instrumentation work as a vital part of PhD training, to foster the growth of future high-energy physics instrumentation experts in the United States, and to strengthen university-lab ties on instrumentation development. GIRA was established by the Coordination Panel for Advanced Detectors, a standing committee of the Division of Particles and Fields of the American Physical Society.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    UC Santa Cruz (US) Lick Observatory Since 1888 Mt Hamilton, in San Jose, California, Altitude 1,283 m (4,209 ft)

    UC Observatories Lick Automated Planet Finder fully robotic 2.4-meter optical telescope at Lick Observatory, situated on the summit of Mount Hamilton, east of San Jose, California, USA.

    The UCO Lick C. Donald Shane telescope is a 120-inch (3.0-meter) reflecting telescope located at the Lick Observatory, Mt Hamilton, in San Jose, California, Altitude 1,283 m (4,209 ft).
    UC Santa Cruz (US) campus.

    The University of California-Santa Cruz (US) , opened in 1965 and grew, one college at a time, to its current (2008-09) enrollment of more than 16,000 students. Undergraduates pursue more than 60 majors supervised by divisional deans of humanities, physical & biological sciences, social sciences, and arts. Graduate students work toward graduate certificates, master’s degrees, or doctoral degrees in more than 30 academic fields under the supervision of the divisional and graduate deans. The dean of the Jack Baskin School of Engineering oversees the campus’s undergraduate and graduate engineering programs.

    UCSC is the home base for the Lick Observatory.

    UCO Lick Observatory’s 36-inch Great Refractor telescope housed in the South (large) Dome of main building.

    Search for extraterrestrial intelligence expands at Lick Observatory
    New instrument scans the sky for pulses of infrared light
    March 23, 2015
    By Hilary Lebow


    Astronomers are expanding the search for extraterrestrial intelligence into a new realm with detectors tuned to infrared light at UC’s Lick Observatory. A new instrument, called NIROSETI, will soon scour the sky for messages from other worlds.

    “Infrared light would be an excellent means of interstellar communication,” said Shelley Wright, an assistant professor of physics at UC San Diego (US) who led the development of the new instrument while at the U Toronto Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics (CA).

    Shelley Wright of UC San Diego with (US) NIROSETI, developed at U Toronto Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics (CA) at the 1-meter Nickel Telescope at Lick Observatory at UC Santa Cruz

    Wright worked on an earlier SETI project at Lick Observatory as a UC Santa Cruz undergraduate, when she built an optical instrument designed by University of California-Berkeley (US) researchers. The infrared project takes advantage of new technology not available for that first optical search.

    Infrared light would be a good way for extraterrestrials to get our attention here on Earth, since pulses from a powerful infrared laser could outshine a star, if only for a billionth of a second. Interstellar gas and dust is almost transparent to near infrared, so these signals can be seen from great distances. It also takes less energy to send information using infrared signals than with visible light.

    Frank Drake, professor emeritus of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz and director emeritus of the SETI Institute, said there are several additional advantages to a search in the infrared realm.

    Frank Drake with his Drake Equation. Credit Frank Drake.

    “The signals are so strong that we only need a small telescope to receive them. Smaller telescopes can offer more observational time, and that is good because we need to search many stars for a chance of success,” said Drake.

    The only downside is that extraterrestrials would need to be transmitting their signals in our direction, Drake said, though he sees this as a positive side to that limitation. “If we get a signal from someone who’s aiming for us, it could mean there’s altruism in the universe. I like that idea. If they want to be friendly, that’s who we will find.”

    Scientists have searched the skies for radio signals for more than 50 years and expanded their search into the optical realm more than a decade ago. The idea of searching in the infrared is not a new one, but instruments capable of capturing pulses of infrared light only recently became available.

    “We had to wait,” Wright said. “I spent eight years waiting and watching as new technology emerged.”

    Now that technology has caught up, the search will extend to stars thousands of light years away, rather than just hundreds. NIROSETI, or Near-Infrared Optical Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, could also uncover new information about the physical universe.

    “This is the first time Earthlings have looked at the universe at infrared wavelengths with nanosecond time scales,” said Dan Werthimer, UC Berkeley SETI Project Director. “The instrument could discover new astrophysical phenomena, or perhaps answer the question of whether we are alone.”

    NIROSETI will also gather more information than previous optical detectors by recording levels of light over time so that patterns can be analyzed for potential signs of other civilizations.

    “Searching for intelligent life in the universe is both thrilling and somewhat unorthodox,” said Claire Max, director of UC Observatories and professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz. “Lick Observatory has already been the site of several previous SETI searches, so this is a very exciting addition to the current research taking place.”

    NIROSETI will scan the skies several times a week on the Nickel 1-meter telescope at Lick Observatory, located on Mt. Hamilton east of San Jose.

     
  • richardmitnick 8:27 pm on July 13, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Haziness of exoplanet atmospheres depends on properties of aerosol particles", A laboratory study of haze particles produced under different conditions helps explain why some exoplanets may be obscured by hazy atmospheres., Cooler planets located in the habitable zones of their host stars are more likely to have clear atmospheres., , Haze removal depends on a critical material property of the particles called surface energy., It’s not just haze production but also haze removal that determines how clear the atmosphere is., Many exoplanets have opaque atmospheres obscured by clouds or hazes that make it hard for astronomers to characterize their chemical compositions., Photochemical reactions in the atmospheres of temperate exoplanets lead to the formation of small organic haze particles., The scientists measured the properties of haze particles produced in the laboratory under conditions representative of exoplanet atmospheres., The study found that a critical factor is the temperature at which the haze particles are created., University of California-Santa Cruz (US)   

    From University of California-Santa Cruz (US) : “Haziness of exoplanet atmospheres depends on properties of aerosol particles” 

    From University of California-Santa Cruz (US)

    July 12, 2021
    Tim Stephens
    stephens@ucsc.edu

    A laboratory study of haze particles produced under different conditions helps explain why some exoplanets may be obscured by hazy atmospheres.

    1
    Xinting Yu, a 51 Pegasi b Postdoctoral Fellow at UCSC, measured the properties of haze particles produced in the laboratory under conditions representative of exoplanet atmospheres. Photo courtesy of Heising-Simons Foundation.

    2
    Researchers measured the refractive indices at visible wavelengths (n) for haze samples created under a range of conditions. Image credit: Yu et al., Nature Astronomy, 2021)

    Many exoplanets have opaque atmospheres obscured by clouds or hazes that make it hard for astronomers to characterize their chemical compositions. A new study shows that haze particles produced under different conditions have a wide range of properties that can determine how clear or hazy a planet’s atmosphere is likely to be.

    Photochemical reactions in the atmospheres of temperate exoplanets lead to the formation of small organic haze particles. Large amounts of these photochemical hazes form in Earth’s atmosphere every day, yet our planet has relatively clear skies. The reason has to do with how easily haze particles are removed from the atmosphere by deposition processes.

    “It’s not just haze production but also haze removal that determines how clear the atmosphere is,” said Xinting Yu, a postdoctoral fellow at UC Santa Cruz and lead author of the study, published July 12 in Nature Astronomy.

    Yu and her colleagues measured the properties of haze particles produced in the laboratory under conditions representative of exoplanet atmospheres, including a range of gas compositions, temperatures, and energy sources. Coauthor Xi Zhang, assistant professor of Earth and planetary sciences at UC Santa Cruz, said laboratory experiments like this are essential for understanding haze formation and its impact on observations.

    “We can’t bring haze samples back from exoplanets, so we have to try to mimic the atmospheric conditions in the laboratory,” he said.

    According to Yu, haze removal depends on a critical material property of the particles called surface energy. “Surface energy describes how cohesive or ‘sticky’ the material is,” she said.

    Sticky haze particles readily bond with each other when they collide, growing into larger particles that fall out of the atmosphere onto the surface of the planet (a process called dry deposition). They also make good condensation nuclei for cloud droplets and are easily removed by wet deposition. Hazes produced on Earth typically have high surface energy and are therefore ‘sticky’ and efficiently removed from the atmosphere.

    Yu’s laboratory experiments show that the hazes produced in exoplanet atmospheres are highly diverse, with properties that depend on the conditions in which they are produced.

    “Some of them are similar to the Earth haze, have high surface energy, and are easy to remove, leading to clear skies,” she said. “But some of them have very low surface energy, like a non-stick pan; they do not bond with other particles very well and remain as small particles hanging in the atmosphere for a long time.”

    The study found that a critical factor is the temperature at which the haze particles are created. Hazes produced at around 400 Kelvin (260°F) tended to have the lowest surface energies, leading to less efficient removal and hazier atmospheres. This finding actually corresponds with observed trends, Yu said, noting that exoplanets at temperatures of 400 to 500 K tend to be the haziest.

    Cooler planets located in the habitable zones of their host stars are more likely to have clear atmospheres, she said. “We may not have to worry about habitable exoplanets being too hazy for future observations, as hazes tend to have higher surface energies at lower temperatures,” Yu said. “So it is easy to remove these hazes, leaving relatively clear atmospheres.”

    Astronomers are looking forward to having a powerful tool for characterizing exoplanet atmospheres with the upcoming James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). When an exoplanet transits across the face of its star, its atmosphere filters the light from the star, giving astronomers with a sensitive enough telescope (like JWST) an opportunity to identify the chemical components of the atmosphere using transmission spectroscopy.

    A hazy atmosphere would interfere with transmission spectroscopy, but the hazes themselves may still yield valuable information, according to Zhang.

    “Hazes are not featureless,” he said. “With better telescopes, we may be able to characterize the composition of exoplanet hazes and understand their chemistry. But the observations will be very hard to explain without data from laboratory experiments. This study has revealed the huge diversity of haze particles, and understanding their optical properties will be a high priority for future studies.”

    In addition to Yu and Zhang, the coauthors of the paper include UCSC undergraduate Austin Dymont, astronomy professor Jonathan Fortney, and graduate student Diana Powell at UC Santa Cruz, as well as scientists at Johns Hopkins University (US), Cornell University (US), University of Texas at Austin (US), and University of Grenoble Alpes [Université Grenoble Alpes] (FR). This work was supported by National Aeronautics Space Agency (US) and the Heising-Simons Foundation.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    UC Santa Cruz (US) Lick Observatory Since 1888 Mt Hamilton, in San Jose, California, Altitude 1,283 m (4,209 ft)

    UC Observatories Lick Automated Planet Finder fully robotic 2.4-meter optical telescope at Lick Observatory, situated on the summit of Mount Hamilton, east of San Jose, California, USA.

    The UCO Lick C. Donald Shane telescope is a 120-inch (3.0-meter) reflecting telescope located at the Lick Observatory, Mt Hamilton, in San Jose, California, Altitude 1,283 m (4,209 ft).
    UC Santa Cruz (US) campus.

    The University of California-Santa Cruz (US) , opened in 1965 and grew, one college at a time, to its current (2008-09) enrollment of more than 16,000 students. Undergraduates pursue more than 60 majors supervised by divisional deans of humanities, physical & biological sciences, social sciences, and arts. Graduate students work toward graduate certificates, master’s degrees, or doctoral degrees in more than 30 academic fields under the supervision of the divisional and graduate deans. The dean of the Jack Baskin School of Engineering oversees the campus’s undergraduate and graduate engineering programs.

    UCSC is the home base for the Lick Observatory.

    UCO Lick Observatory’s 36-inch Great Refractor telescope housed in the South (large) Dome of main building.

    Search for extraterrestrial intelligence expands at Lick Observatory
    New instrument scans the sky for pulses of infrared light
    March 23, 2015
    By Hilary Lebow


    Astronomers are expanding the search for extraterrestrial intelligence into a new realm with detectors tuned to infrared light at UC’s Lick Observatory. A new instrument, called NIROSETI, will soon scour the sky for messages from other worlds.

    “Infrared light would be an excellent means of interstellar communication,” said Shelley Wright, an assistant professor of physics at UC San Diego (US) who led the development of the new instrument while at the U Toronto Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics (CA).

    Shelley Wright of UC San Diego with (US) NIROSETI, developed at U Toronto Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics (CA) at the 1-meter Nickel Telescope at Lick Observatory at UC Santa Cruz

    Wright worked on an earlier SETI project at Lick Observatory as a UC Santa Cruz undergraduate, when she built an optical instrument designed by University of California-Berkeley (US) researchers. The infrared project takes advantage of new technology not available for that first optical search.

    Infrared light would be a good way for extraterrestrials to get our attention here on Earth, since pulses from a powerful infrared laser could outshine a star, if only for a billionth of a second. Interstellar gas and dust is almost transparent to near infrared, so these signals can be seen from great distances. It also takes less energy to send information using infrared signals than with visible light.

    Frank Drake, professor emeritus of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz and director emeritus of the SETI Institute, said there are several additional advantages to a search in the infrared realm.

    Frank Drake with his Drake Equation. Credit Frank Drake.

    “The signals are so strong that we only need a small telescope to receive them. Smaller telescopes can offer more observational time, and that is good because we need to search many stars for a chance of success,” said Drake.

    The only downside is that extraterrestrials would need to be transmitting their signals in our direction, Drake said, though he sees this as a positive side to that limitation. “If we get a signal from someone who’s aiming for us, it could mean there’s altruism in the universe. I like that idea. If they want to be friendly, that’s who we will find.”

    Scientists have searched the skies for radio signals for more than 50 years and expanded their search into the optical realm more than a decade ago. The idea of searching in the infrared is not a new one, but instruments capable of capturing pulses of infrared light only recently became available.

    “We had to wait,” Wright said. “I spent eight years waiting and watching as new technology emerged.”

    Now that technology has caught up, the search will extend to stars thousands of light years away, rather than just hundreds. NIROSETI, or Near-Infrared Optical Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, could also uncover new information about the physical universe.

    “This is the first time Earthlings have looked at the universe at infrared wavelengths with nanosecond time scales,” said Dan Werthimer, UC Berkeley SETI Project Director. “The instrument could discover new astrophysical phenomena, or perhaps answer the question of whether we are alone.”

    NIROSETI will also gather more information than previous optical detectors by recording levels of light over time so that patterns can be analyzed for potential signs of other civilizations.

    “Searching for intelligent life in the universe is both thrilling and somewhat unorthodox,” said Claire Max, director of UC Observatories and professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz. “Lick Observatory has already been the site of several previous SETI searches, so this is a very exciting addition to the current research taking place.”

    NIROSETI will scan the skies several times a week on the Nickel 1-meter telescope at Lick Observatory, located on Mt. Hamilton east of San Jose.

     
  • richardmitnick 11:48 am on July 3, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Unusual currents explain mysterious red crab strandings", , , , University of California-Santa Cruz (US)   

    From University of California-Santa Cruz (US): “Unusual currents explain mysterious red crab strandings” 

    From University of California-Santa Cruz (US)

    July 02, 2021
    Erin Malsbury
    publicaffairs@ucsc.edu

    1
    During pelagic red crab stranding events—like this one documented at a beach in Pacific Grove, California—the small red crustaceans wash ashore en masse in areas far north of their usual home range in the Mexican state of Baja California. Photo: Stephanie Brodie.

    For decades, people have wondered why pelagic red crabs—also called tuna crabs—sometimes wash ashore in the millions on the West Coast of the United States. New research shows that atypical currents, rather than abnormal temperatures, likely bring them up from their home range off Baja California.

    Alongside the discovery, the scientists also created a seawater flow index that could help researchers and managers detect abnormal current years.

    The new study, published July 1 in Limnology and Oceanography, began after lead author Megan Cimino biked past a pelagic red crab stranding on her way to her office in Monterey in 2018. Cimino, a biological oceanographer at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) (US) and UC Santa Cruz through the Institute of Marine Sciences Fisheries Collaborative Program, had witnessed a different stranding near where she grew up in Southern California a few years prior.

    “At that time, I had no clue what a red crab was, what was going on, why they would be there,” she said. “But it was very clear something different was going on in the ocean—something unusual.”

    She brought the question to her colleagues, and the lab decided to dive into the mechanism behind the seemingly random appearances.

    The group spent months compiling data about the crabs and their recorded range. They scoured oceanographic research surveys, video data from remotely operated vehicles, citizen science programs, and even online media, such as Twitter.

    Integrating the different data types proved challenging, but eventually the team had a clear idea of the species’ range and strandings from 1950 to 2019.

    Comparing these data with ocean conditions like temperature and current movements, the scientists found that the appearance of red crabs outside of their normal range correlated with the amount of seawater flowing from Baja California to central California. The finding supports strong currents as the key indicator for the presence of the crabs over the other major hypothesis—that warm water brought by marine heatwaves and El Niño events causes the appearances.

    To study the currents, the researchers used a regional ocean model of the California Current System, developed by researchers in the UC Santa Cruz ocean modeling group.

    “What you’re doing is putting a tracer—you could think of it like a dye—into a particular part of the ocean and then running the model backwards in time to see where that came from,” said Michael Jacox, a physical oceanographer with dual affiliation with NOAA and UC Santa Cruz.

    Based on those tracer experiments, the team created the “southern source water index” (SSWI), which shows how much water off the central California coast comes from south of the U.S.-Mexico border.

    “It’s that pathway of water that brings up some of these unusual species,” said Ryan Rykaczewski, a fisheries oceanographer at NOAA and the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. “It’s not just the pelagic red crabs, even though those might be the most conspicuous species that we see on the coast.”

    The red crabs draw the public’s interest and serve as an important food source for lots of other species. These factors made them a good study subject, but they’re not the only thing brought up by currents. They represent a larger phenomenon that researchers can use the SSWI to better understand.

    “The index could be used as a kind of early warning system about what the ocean state is that year and whether we’re going to expect southern species in northern regions,” said Cimino. “That can help us plan and manage and give expectations for bycatch or different fisheries.”

    As climate change increases variability in ocean conditions, the locations of species will begin to shift. Knowing where to look for particular organisms helps researchers make more accurate observations and population estimates.

    “We can go back and look at that source water index and use that perhaps as a predictive tool of how the composition of coastal species is going to change,” said Rykaczewski. “And that might help us with ecosystem management.”

    The way currents shift is an often-overlooked piece of the puzzle when it comes to understanding climate change. Scientists are now in the process of testing whether the southern source water index is sensitive to it.

    “We think a lot about the changes in things like temperature and oxygen, but changes in the contribution of waters from different locations in the broader North Pacific is also really important for understanding climate change,” said Rykaczewski.

    The movement of pelagic red crabs provides just one example of the practical applications of such studies.

    “I think it’s really, really important that when we think about climate change, we don’t just think about ‘warm temperature equals some response’, and we really try to dig into the mechanisms,” said Jacox.

    With the case study of red crabs and the creation of the southern source water index, researchers now have another tool for doing just that.

    In addition to quoted researchers, coauthors include Steven Bograd, Stephanie Brodie, Gemma Carroll and Elliott Hazen at NOAA and UC Santa Cruz as well as Bertha Lavaniegos at the Center for Scientific Research and Higher Education at Ensenada [Centro de Investigación Científica y de Educación Superior de Ensenada, CICESE] (MX) in Baja California, Mark Morales at UC Santa Cruz and Erin Satterthwaite at NOAA, University of California-Santa Barbara (US) and Colorado State University (US).

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The University of California-Santa Cruz (US), opened in 1965 and grew, one college at a time, to its current (2008-09) enrollment of more than 16,000 students. Undergraduates pursue more than 60 majors supervised by divisional deans of humanities, physical & biological sciences, social sciences, and arts. Graduate students work toward graduate certificates, master’s degrees, or doctoral degrees in more than 30 academic fields under the supervision of the divisional and graduate deans. The dean of the Jack Baskin School of Engineering oversees the campus’s undergraduate and graduate engineering programs.

    UCSC is the home base for the Lick Observatory.

    UCO Lick Observatory’s 36-inch Great Refractor telescope in the South (large) Dome of main building.

     
  • richardmitnick 8:31 pm on June 30, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Jonathan Fortney garners Simons Investigator in Astrophysics award", , , , , University of California-Santa Cruz (US)   

    From University of California-Santa Cruz (US) : “Jonathan Fortney garners Simons Investigator in Astrophysics award” 

    From University of California-Santa Cruz (US)

    June 29, 2021
    Tim Stephens
    stephens@ucsc.edu

    1
    Jonathan Fortney. Photo by C. Lagattuta.

    The Simons Foundation has appointed Jonathan Fortney, professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz, as a Simons Investigator in Astrophysics, providing $500,000 over five years to support his research.

    The Simons Investigators program is intended to support outstanding theoretical scientists in their most productive years, when they are establishing creative new research directions, providing leadership to the field, and effectively mentoring junior scientists.

    Fortney’s research focuses on understanding the atmospheres, interiors, and thermal evolution of planets, including exoplanets that orbit distant stars as well as the planets in our own solar system. He develops numerical models to explore many aspects of the physics of planets, from rocky worlds to gas giants. This work has provided a framework for understanding the atmospheres of exoplanets, their interior structure and thermal evolution, as well as physical processes like “helium rain” deep within Saturn.

    Fortney often works closely with observers in interpreting the spectra of exoplanets to better understand their physics, chemistry, and clues to their formation. He directs the Other Worlds Laboratory (OWL), a UCSC research initiative that brings together researchers in several departments and features a unique summer visitors program.

    Fortney is well known for his contributions to the understanding of gas giants such as Jupiter and Saturn, as well as the so-called “hot Jupiter” exoplanets that orbit close to their host stars. He has also begun to broaden his research to include rocky terrestrial planets, as well as the cool, faint stars known as M stars.

    “M stars are the most common stars in the sky, and some of the models we developed for hot planet atmospheres we can also apply to these cool stars,” Fortney said. “Some hot Jupiters are actually hotter than the coolest stars.”

    The Simons Investigator funding will give him more time to focus on these new research directions.

    “I have focused a lot on giant planets, and now my group is diversifying in both directions, looking at smaller planets as well as larger objects, the smallest stars,” Fortney said. “I’m trying to build a group that’s diverse in the sorts of problems we can tackle, and this award is very helpful to make that happen.”

    With the deployment of new telescopes and instruments, such as the soon-to-be-launched James Webb Space Telescope, astronomers are looking forward to a wealth of new exoplanet observations.

    “In this quest to understand the rapid influx of data, Jonathan Fortney’s technical skills and expertise are immeasurable assets to the community,” said Douglas N.C. Lin, professor emeritus of astronomy and astrophysics at UCSC. “His versatility and breadth will enable him to grasp opportunities and embrace challenges brought forth by the anticipated and serendipitous discoveries.”

    Each year, the Simons Foundation requests nominations from a targeted list of institutions in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Ireland for the Simons Investigator programs in mathematics, physics, astrophysics, and computer science. The Simons Investigators are appointed for an initial period of five years and receive research support of $100,000 per year.

    Fortney was awarded the 2020 Paolo Farinella Prize from the Europlanet Society for his contributions to the understanding of giant planets, as well as the 2010 Harold C. Urey Prize in Planetary Science from the American Astronomical Society. He earned his B.S. in physics at Iowa State University (US)and Ph.D. in planetary science at the University of Arizona (US). He joined the UCSC faculty in 2008.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    UC Santa Cruz (US) Lick Observatory Since 1888 Mt Hamilton, in San Jose, California, Altitude 1,283 m (4,209 ft)

    UC Observatories Lick Automated Planet Finder fully robotic 2.4-meter optical telescope at Lick Observatory, situated on the summit of Mount Hamilton, east of San Jose, California, USA.

    The UCO Lick C. Donald Shane telescope is a 120-inch (3.0-meter) reflecting telescope located at the Lick Observatory, Mt Hamilton, in San Jose, California, Altitude 1,283 m (4,209 ft).
    UC Santa Cruz (US) campus.

    The University of California-Santa Cruz (US) , opened in 1965 and grew, one college at a time, to its current (2008-09) enrollment of more than 16,000 students. Undergraduates pursue more than 60 majors supervised by divisional deans of humanities, physical & biological sciences, social sciences, and arts. Graduate students work toward graduate certificates, master’s degrees, or doctoral degrees in more than 30 academic fields under the supervision of the divisional and graduate deans. The dean of the Jack Baskin School of Engineering oversees the campus’s undergraduate and graduate engineering programs.

    UCSC is the home base for the Lick Observatory.

    UCO Lick Observatory’s 36-inch Great Refractor telescope housed in the South (large) Dome of main building.

    Search for extraterrestrial intelligence expands at Lick Observatory
    New instrument scans the sky for pulses of infrared light
    March 23, 2015
    By Hilary Lebow


    Astronomers are expanding the search for extraterrestrial intelligence into a new realm with detectors tuned to infrared light at UC’s Lick Observatory. A new instrument, called NIROSETI, will soon scour the sky for messages from other worlds.

    “Infrared light would be an excellent means of interstellar communication,” said Shelley Wright, an assistant professor of physics at UC San Diego (US) who led the development of the new instrument while at the U Toronto Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics (CA).

    Shelley Wright of UC San Diego with (US) NIROSETI, developed at U Toronto Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics (CA) at the 1-meter Nickel Telescope at Lick Observatory at UC Santa Cruz

    Wright worked on an earlier SETI project at Lick Observatory as a UC Santa Cruz undergraduate, when she built an optical instrument designed by University of California-Berkeley (US) researchers. The infrared project takes advantage of new technology not available for that first optical search.

    Infrared light would be a good way for extraterrestrials to get our attention here on Earth, since pulses from a powerful infrared laser could outshine a star, if only for a billionth of a second. Interstellar gas and dust is almost transparent to near infrared, so these signals can be seen from great distances. It also takes less energy to send information using infrared signals than with visible light.

    Frank Drake, professor emeritus of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz and director emeritus of the SETI Institute, said there are several additional advantages to a search in the infrared realm.

    Frank Drake with his Drake Equation. Credit Frank Drake.

    “The signals are so strong that we only need a small telescope to receive them. Smaller telescopes can offer more observational time, and that is good because we need to search many stars for a chance of success,” said Drake.

    The only downside is that extraterrestrials would need to be transmitting their signals in our direction, Drake said, though he sees this as a positive side to that limitation. “If we get a signal from someone who’s aiming for us, it could mean there’s altruism in the universe. I like that idea. If they want to be friendly, that’s who we will find.”

    Scientists have searched the skies for radio signals for more than 50 years and expanded their search into the optical realm more than a decade ago. The idea of searching in the infrared is not a new one, but instruments capable of capturing pulses of infrared light only recently became available.

    “We had to wait,” Wright said. “I spent eight years waiting and watching as new technology emerged.”

    Now that technology has caught up, the search will extend to stars thousands of light years away, rather than just hundreds. NIROSETI, or Near-Infrared Optical Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, could also uncover new information about the physical universe.

    “This is the first time Earthlings have looked at the universe at infrared wavelengths with nanosecond time scales,” said Dan Werthimer, UC Berkeley SETI Project Director. “The instrument could discover new astrophysical phenomena, or perhaps answer the question of whether we are alone.”

    NIROSETI will also gather more information than previous optical detectors by recording levels of light over time so that patterns can be analyzed for potential signs of other civilizations.

    “Searching for intelligent life in the universe is both thrilling and somewhat unorthodox,” said Claire Max, director of UC Observatories and professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz. “Lick Observatory has already been the site of several previous SETI searches, so this is a very exciting addition to the current research taking place.”

    NIROSETI will scan the skies several times a week on the Nickel 1-meter telescope at Lick Observatory, located on Mt. Hamilton east of San Jose.

     
  • richardmitnick 1:23 pm on June 19, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Hydrologist Margaret Zimmer wins NSF CAREER Award", , , University of California-Santa Cruz (US), Women in STEM-Margaret Zimmer, Zimmer’s field site at the UC Blue Oak Ranch Reserve on the west slope of Mt. Hamilton features an extensive array of hydrological instruments.   

    From University of California-Santa Cruz (US) : Women in STEM-Margaret Zimmer “Hydrologist Margaret Zimmer wins NSF CAREER Award” 

    From University of California-Santa Cruz (US)

    June 16, 2021
    Tim Stephens
    stephens@ucsc.edu

    1
    Assistant Professor Margaret Zimmer studies the pathways water takes through landscapes.

    Margaret Zimmer, assistant professor of Earth and planetary sciences, has received a Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award from the National Science Foundation (US) to support her research on the role of Earth’s subsurface in regulating the water cycle.

    Zimmer’s Watershed Hydrology lab studies the pathways water takes through landscapes, especially the poorly understood subsurface movements of water through soil and bedrock. When rainfall soaks into the ground, it can replenish soil water, recharge groundwater, generate stream flow, and be taken up by plant roots, ultimately returning to the atmosphere through evaporation and transpiration by plants. Zimmer’s group is interested in how the subsurface structure controls the partitioning of water into these different pathways.

    “One of the big unknowns for predicting the effects of climate change on the water cycle is our poor understanding of how water is stored and moved in soil and bedrock,” she said. “Climate scientists are predicting more year-to-year variability in precipitation and more extreme weather events, and this has implications for the management of water resources.”

    Zimmer’s field site at the UC Blue Oak Ranch Reserve on the west slope of Mt. Hamilton features an extensive array of hydrological instruments her team has installed to monitor water movement. The new grant will help accelerate the research at this site and enable the research group to dig deeper, both metaphorically and literally.

    “Part of this funding will go toward drilling deep bore holes to allow us to peer into the subsurface and see its structure and how it regulates water movement and storage,” she said.

    The grant will also support education and outreach efforts to attract students with diverse backgrounds, ideas, and experiences into the Earth sciences. The program will include developing environmental justice-themed hydrology modules for existing online high school and undergraduate courses that reach more than 500 students annually.

    “Understanding subsurface hydrology is critical for developing effective water resource policies and addressing socioeconomic inequalities, and we need to broaden the diversity of people who are involved in this topic,” Zimmer said.

    Zimmer will also partner with local water managers to address the uncertainty in their regional streamflow predictions. The field site forms the headwaters of the Santa Clara Valley Water District, which serves water for about 2 million people in San Jose.

    The CAREER Awards are NSF’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. The award provides $587,000 over five years to support Zimmer’s research, education, and outreach activities.

    Zimmer earned her B.A. in environmental studies at Oberlin College (US), M.S. in Earth sciences at Syracuse University (US), and Ph.D. in Earth and ocean sciences at Duke University (US). She joined the UCSC faculty in 2018.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    UC Santa Cruz (US) Lick Observatory Since 1888 Mt Hamilton, in San Jose, California, Altitude 1,283 m (4,209 ft)

    UC Observatories Lick Automated Planet Finder fully robotic 2.4-meter optical telescope at Lick Observatory, situated on the summit of Mount Hamilton, east of San Jose, California, USA.

    The UCO Lick C. Donald Shane telescope is a 120-inch (3.0-meter) reflecting telescope located at the Lick Observatory, Mt Hamilton, in San Jose, California, Altitude 1,283 m (4,209 ft).
    UC Santa Cruz (US) campus.

    The University of California-Santa Cruz (US) , opened in 1965 and grew, one college at a time, to its current (2008-09) enrollment of more than 16,000 students. Undergraduates pursue more than 60 majors supervised by divisional deans of humanities, physical & biological sciences, social sciences, and arts. Graduate students work toward graduate certificates, master’s degrees, or doctoral degrees in more than 30 academic fields under the supervision of the divisional and graduate deans. The dean of the Jack Baskin School of Engineering oversees the campus’s undergraduate and graduate engineering programs.

    UCSC is the home base for the Lick Observatory.

    UCO Lick Observatory’s 36-inch Great Refractor telescope housed in the South (large) Dome of main building.

    Search for extraterrestrial intelligence expands at Lick Observatory
    New instrument scans the sky for pulses of infrared light
    March 23, 2015
    By Hilary Lebow


    Astronomers are expanding the search for extraterrestrial intelligence into a new realm with detectors tuned to infrared light at UC’s Lick Observatory. A new instrument, called NIROSETI, will soon scour the sky for messages from other worlds.

    “Infrared light would be an excellent means of interstellar communication,” said Shelley Wright, an assistant professor of physics at UC San Diego (US) who led the development of the new instrument while at the U Toronto Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics (CA).

    Shelley Wright of UC San Diego with (US) NIROSETI, developed at U Toronto Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics (CA) at the 1-meter Nickel Telescope at Lick Observatory at UC Santa Cruz

    Wright worked on an earlier SETI project at Lick Observatory as a UC Santa Cruz undergraduate, when she built an optical instrument designed by University of California-Berkeley (US) researchers. The infrared project takes advantage of new technology not available for that first optical search.

    Infrared light would be a good way for extraterrestrials to get our attention here on Earth, since pulses from a powerful infrared laser could outshine a star, if only for a billionth of a second. Interstellar gas and dust is almost transparent to near infrared, so these signals can be seen from great distances. It also takes less energy to send information using infrared signals than with visible light.

    Frank Drake, professor emeritus of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz and director emeritus of the SETI Institute, said there are several additional advantages to a search in the infrared realm.

    Frank Drake with his Drake Equation. Credit Frank Drake.

    “The signals are so strong that we only need a small telescope to receive them. Smaller telescopes can offer more observational time, and that is good because we need to search many stars for a chance of success,” said Drake.

    The only downside is that extraterrestrials would need to be transmitting their signals in our direction, Drake said, though he sees this as a positive side to that limitation. “If we get a signal from someone who’s aiming for us, it could mean there’s altruism in the universe. I like that idea. If they want to be friendly, that’s who we will find.”

    Scientists have searched the skies for radio signals for more than 50 years and expanded their search into the optical realm more than a decade ago. The idea of searching in the infrared is not a new one, but instruments capable of capturing pulses of infrared light only recently became available.

    “We had to wait,” Wright said. “I spent eight years waiting and watching as new technology emerged.”

    Now that technology has caught up, the search will extend to stars thousands of light years away, rather than just hundreds. NIROSETI, or Near-Infrared Optical Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, could also uncover new information about the physical universe.

    “This is the first time Earthlings have looked at the universe at infrared wavelengths with nanosecond time scales,” said Dan Werthimer, UC Berkeley SETI Project Director. “The instrument could discover new astrophysical phenomena, or perhaps answer the question of whether we are alone.”

    NIROSETI will also gather more information than previous optical detectors by recording levels of light over time so that patterns can be analyzed for potential signs of other civilizations.

    “Searching for intelligent life in the universe is both thrilling and somewhat unorthodox,” said Claire Max, director of UC Observatories and professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz. “Lick Observatory has already been the site of several previous SETI searches, so this is a very exciting addition to the current research taking place.”

    NIROSETI will scan the skies several times a week on the Nickel 1-meter telescope at Lick Observatory, located on Mt. Hamilton east of San Jose.

     
  • richardmitnick 1:05 pm on June 19, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Searching for answers in the cosmos", , , , , Olivia Ross's project studies the possibility of detecting primordial black holes using pulsars., University of California-Santa Cruz (US), Women STEM-Olivia Ross   

    From University of California-Santa Cruz (US) :Women STEM-Olivia Ross “Searching for answers in the cosmos” 

    From University of California-Santa Cruz (US)

    June 18, 2021
    Dan White

    Olivia Ross’s project studies the possibility of detecting primordial black holes using pulsars. Her passion for large, difficult projects, and the rigor of her scientific method, wowed her faculty mentor Stefano Profumo.

    1
    Olivia Ross graduated magna cum laude in summer 2020. She is eager to start work this fall at Cornell University’s (US) Ph.D. program in astronomy.

    In her sophomore year of high school, Olivia Ross (Kresge ’20, astrophysics), winner of this year’s prestigious Steck Family Award, learned to channel anxious energies into scientific pursuits.

    “I directed all my angsty, existential teen moments of ‘what does it all mean?’ toward learning about the history of the universe,” Ross said. “I mean, what’s more existential than that?”

    This redirected life force moves her forward. While attending Santa Rosa High School as a homeschool student, she also earned associate’s degrees in math, engineering, natural sciences, and physics from Santa Rosa Junior College, while holding down a part-time job.

    “Of course, everyone thought I was crazy, which is probably why I did it,” Ross said.

    To pull off this feat, Ross devoted herself to college on weekdays, and high school studies on weekends. She graduated from both high school and junior college in June 2017 when she was 18.

    That focused ambition increased at UC Santa Cruz, when Ross took on even more daunting tasks, including her celebrated thesis project, “Searching for Primordial Black Holes,” which impressed the judges with its resourcefulness and innovation.

    Her project, in collaboration with her faculty mentor Stefano Profumo, physics professor and director of graduate studies for UC Santa Cruz’s Department of Physics, studies the possibility of detecting primordial black holes using pulsars.

    Ross’s passion for large, difficult projects, and the rigor of her scientific method, wowed Profumo.

    “She is, simply, a one-in-a-generation gem,” Profumo wrote in February, in a letter of recommendation for the Dean’s and Chancellor’s Awards, both of which Ross received.

    Profumo called her “an exceptionally talented scholar, a gritty, motivated, exceptionally smart researcher, and plainly an incredibly good collaborator.”

    The Steck Award is given once a year to one UC Santa Cruz undergraduate, and recognizes the most outstanding research out of the 15 Chancellor’s Award honorees. The award also honors the care, work and guidance of the honoree’s faculty mentor.

    Loren Steck (Porter ’73), a UC Santa Cruz Foundation trustee, has described the award as a truly special honor for UCSC students: “Only the best undergraduates nowadays do senior theses,” Steck said. “Only the best of the best of them receive Dean’s Awards. Only the best of the best of the best of them get Chancellor’s Awards.”

    A restless spirit

    Risk and ambition have fueled Ross since she took the first steps toward being a scientist at age 3. That’s when she first became obsessed with mathematics, a passion that led her toward science in high school, where she realized that daunting problem sets and laboratory experiments could be emotional as well as intellectual outlets.

    Ross has never chosen the easier path. If anything, she always picks the steepest and most slippery slope.

    After high school, Ross took some well-deserved time off to travel through 33 of the United States and a small piece of Canada over a four-month period, then spent three months backpacking in Europe, including the Camino de Santiago trek.

    Arriving in UC Santa Cruz in 2018, Ross went through an academic identity crisis. She was not sure whether to call herself a first-year student or a transfer. But soon, she fell in with some good friends, lost herself in peaceful redwoods, and started her project with Profumo.

    His support helped her get over her initial unease. “I was absolutely terrified when I started research,” Ross said. “I had no idea how to do any of it. The grad students and professors were all so cool and intimidating, and I could not read a scientific paper to save my life.

    “[But] Stefano is such a supportive mentor to all his students,” Ross said. “I’m so lucky to have him as an adviser.”

    Ross had learned about Profumo’s research and was keen on starting to work with him as soon as possible. She had a clear vision of what she wanted to work on: the question of whether primordial black holes could or could not be dark matter, Profumo recalled.

    “I was very impressed both by her resolve and by her passion and was delighted when she started to work with my best graduate student, Benjamin Lehmann, on a project involving the gravitational capture of black holes in planetary, and more broadly, binary systems,” Profumo said.

    Overcoming obstacles

    But Ross, for all of her hard work and self-motivation, has faced obstacles along the way, including mood disorders. During the height of her academic career at UC Santa Cruz, where she enrolled in 2018, she put in long hours while coping with stress.

    “I’ve always struggled with anxiety and depression,” Ross said. “So the times when I was barely getting my homework turned in because it took all my strength to get out of bed or when I was so anxious I couldn’t even look at my advisers without freaking out, of course it was hard to get my work done.

    “But I’ve learned a couple things,” Ross noted. “Putting off a meeting because you haven’t accomplished anything will always make you less productive. Just tell your adviser you need more direction and try again. Secondly, professors and grad students are real human beings, who are generally familiar with mental illnesses.

    “If you’re sick, you can tell them. I’m still working on that one. But for me, learning to talk about mental illness as I would any other illness has made a huge impact on my personal and professional life.”

    On the hunt for primordial black holes

    Ross’s thesis project quests after primordial black holes, so named because they formed very soon after the Big Bang.

    “The black holes we’re used to hearing about form from the death of stars, and because stars behave in certain ways, there are strict constraints on the types of black holes they produce in their deaths,” Ross explained.

    However, black holes that formed during the early history of the universe—primordial black holes—would not have to fall within these constraints.

    “They could be as small as the head of a pin or as big as 100 suns,” she said.

    Searching for these potentially small primordial objects became the latest in Ross’s endless list of daunting tasks. She chose a topic that she knew would test her.

    “The question is, how do you look for something you can’t see?” she asked.

    Ross and Ben Lehmann, the graduate student she was working with, decided to use pulsars as a tool to seek the primordial black holes. Pulsars—which are neutron stars left over from when a star turns into a supernova but is not quite big enough to form a black hole—emit beams of light, “allowing us to see when something is orbiting a pulsar without seeing the object itself.”

    A driving force

    Ross graduated magna cum laude in summer 2020. She is eager to start work this fall at Cornell University’s Ph.D. program in astronomy. She will study large-scale structure, which she describes as “the study of how and why matter is distributed throughout the universe.”

    Looking back, she can see just how far she’s come. Because of her early pursuit of four associates degrees, “my college career started when I was 15, so a lot has changed,” Ross observed. “I think the main thing is confidence. When I started, I had all these plans about doing community college as a teenager and homeschooling for high school and doing a U.S. road trip by myself. And nobody believed I could do any of it, which was honestly fair enough. But I did all that and more.”

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    UC Santa Cruz (US) Lick Observatory Since 1888 Mt Hamilton, in San Jose, California, Altitude 1,283 m (4,209 ft)

    UC Observatories Lick Automated Planet Finder fully robotic 2.4-meter optical telescope at Lick Observatory, situated on the summit of Mount Hamilton, east of San Jose, California, USA.

    The UCO Lick C. Donald Shane telescope is a 120-inch (3.0-meter) reflecting telescope located at the Lick Observatory, Mt Hamilton, in San Jose, California, Altitude 1,283 m (4,209 ft).
    UC Santa Cruz (US) campus.

    The University of California-Santa Cruz (US) , opened in 1965 and grew, one college at a time, to its current (2008-09) enrollment of more than 16,000 students. Undergraduates pursue more than 60 majors supervised by divisional deans of humanities, physical & biological sciences, social sciences, and arts. Graduate students work toward graduate certificates, master’s degrees, or doctoral degrees in more than 30 academic fields under the supervision of the divisional and graduate deans. The dean of the Jack Baskin School of Engineering oversees the campus’s undergraduate and graduate engineering programs.

    UCSC is the home base for the Lick Observatory.

    UCO Lick Observatory’s 36-inch Great Refractor telescope housed in the South (large) Dome of main building.

    Search for extraterrestrial intelligence expands at Lick Observatory
    New instrument scans the sky for pulses of infrared light
    March 23, 2015
    By Hilary Lebow


    Astronomers are expanding the search for extraterrestrial intelligence into a new realm with detectors tuned to infrared light at UC’s Lick Observatory. A new instrument, called NIROSETI, will soon scour the sky for messages from other worlds.

    “Infrared light would be an excellent means of interstellar communication,” said Shelley Wright, an assistant professor of physics at UC San Diego (US) who led the development of the new instrument while at the U Toronto Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics (CA).

    Shelley Wright of UC San Diego with (US) NIROSETI, developed at U Toronto Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics (CA) at the 1-meter Nickel Telescope at Lick Observatory at UC Santa Cruz

    Wright worked on an earlier SETI project at Lick Observatory as a UC Santa Cruz undergraduate, when she built an optical instrument designed by University of California-Berkeley (US) researchers. The infrared project takes advantage of new technology not available for that first optical search.

    Infrared light would be a good way for extraterrestrials to get our attention here on Earth, since pulses from a powerful infrared laser could outshine a star, if only for a billionth of a second. Interstellar gas and dust is almost transparent to near infrared, so these signals can be seen from great distances. It also takes less energy to send information using infrared signals than with visible light.

    Frank Drake, professor emeritus of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz and director emeritus of the SETI Institute, said there are several additional advantages to a search in the infrared realm.

    Frank Drake with his Drake Equation. Credit Frank Drake.

    “The signals are so strong that we only need a small telescope to receive them. Smaller telescopes can offer more observational time, and that is good because we need to search many stars for a chance of success,” said Drake.

    The only downside is that extraterrestrials would need to be transmitting their signals in our direction, Drake said, though he sees this as a positive side to that limitation. “If we get a signal from someone who’s aiming for us, it could mean there’s altruism in the universe. I like that idea. If they want to be friendly, that’s who we will find.”

    Scientists have searched the skies for radio signals for more than 50 years and expanded their search into the optical realm more than a decade ago. The idea of searching in the infrared is not a new one, but instruments capable of capturing pulses of infrared light only recently became available.

    “We had to wait,” Wright said. “I spent eight years waiting and watching as new technology emerged.”

    Now that technology has caught up, the search will extend to stars thousands of light years away, rather than just hundreds. NIROSETI, or Near-Infrared Optical Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, could also uncover new information about the physical universe.

    “This is the first time Earthlings have looked at the universe at infrared wavelengths with nanosecond time scales,” said Dan Werthimer, UC Berkeley SETI Project Director. “The instrument could discover new astrophysical phenomena, or perhaps answer the question of whether we are alone.”

    NIROSETI will also gather more information than previous optical detectors by recording levels of light over time so that patterns can be analyzed for potential signs of other civilizations.

    “Searching for intelligent life in the universe is both thrilling and somewhat unorthodox,” said Claire Max, director of UC Observatories and professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz. “Lick Observatory has already been the site of several previous SETI searches, so this is a very exciting addition to the current research taking place.”

    NIROSETI will scan the skies several times a week on the Nickel 1-meter telescope at Lick Observatory, located on Mt. Hamilton east of San Jose.

     
  • richardmitnick 12:36 pm on June 18, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Dialogues; collaborations; and the success of 'slow science'", In Singapore a UC Santa Cruz anthropology student is doing work usually performed by microbiologists., SEACoast: Southeast Asian Coastal Interactions Initiative, University of California-Santa Cruz (US), Women in STEM-Zahira Suhaimi; Anna Tsing; Kathleen Gutierrez; Marilou Sison-Mangus   

    From University of California-Santa Cruz (US) : Women in STEM-Zahira Suhaimi; Anna Tsing; Kathleen Gutierrez; Marilou Sison-Mangus “Dialogues; collaborations; and the success of ‘slow science'” 

    From University of California-Santa Cruz (US)

    June 15, 2021
    Almut Wolf
    awolf2@ucsc.edu

    With funding from the Henry Luce Foundation, the new Southeast Asian Coastal Interactions Initiative takes a methodical approach to worldwide social and environmental challenges.

    1
    Zahira Suhaimi, an anthropology doctoral student studying with the Southeast Asian Coastal Interactions Initiative, has been collecting observations of water conditions as part of her study of interactions between Southeast Asian coastal populations and microscopic algae. Photo: Sandra Kolundžija, Ph.D. student, Nanyang Technological University [Universiti Teknologi Nanyang](SG).

    In Singapore a UC Santa Cruz anthropology student is doing work usually performed by microbiologists. Her findings will be important in numerous areas—from sustainable food to social justice to biodiversity. The research is just one aspect of SEACoast, a new program that is fulfilling the promises of slow science.

    Slow science is making fast progress at UC Santa Cruz.

    Established in 2019, the Southeast Asian Coastal Interactions Initiative, or SEACoast, has created a collaborative hub where social and natural scientists work together to tackle complex environmental problems.

    “In this time of human-caused environmental challenges, we need to agree that human histories and nonhuman histories are part of the same set of research challenges,” says Anna Tsing, professor of anthropology, who is codirecting the center with Megan Thomas, associate professor of political science.

    Since the SEACoast center was funded with a five-year $1 million grant from the Henry Luce Foundation, interest and participation in the center’s programming has been growing rapidly. Emphasizing “slow science,” which values deliberation, field observation, and historical inquiry over fast results, SEACoast has drawn academics from a broad spectrum of disciplines together to offer their expertise, learn from others, and synthesize new ideas for research.

    One of SEACoast’s projects explores the multifaceted phenomenon of harmful algal blooms. Caused by alterations in ocean nutrients, winds, temperatures, or a combination of these factors, algal blooms create toxic conditions that threaten the survival of various species in coastal waters. Interestingly, it is an anthropologist at UC Santa Cruz, Ph.D. student Zahirah Suhaimi, who is working to solve this environmental puzzle, piecing together knowledge from the fields of microbiology, ethnography, history, and human behavior.

    Many cooks in the kitchen—uncommon collaboratives

    Suhaimi’s dissertation looks at the relationship between microscopic algal species and human populations. Algae are primary producers—they float around in marine environments and get eaten by zooplankton and shellfish. They are building blocks of life. But they can also destroy life if they are toxic and reproduce in large quantities. These toxins work their way up the food chain onto our plates. Also, while photosynthetic algae species overgrow during daytime in the presence of light, in the dark, they produce massive amounts of deadly carbon dioxide. They can literally smother marine life in anoxic waters or waters with very low oxygen levels.

    At the onset of her fieldwork in 2018, Suhaimi was faced with the challenge of finding a scientific lab willing to integrate a social scientist into their team. On a tour of mangroves in Singapore, Suhaimi met Frederico Lauro, a professor of microbiology at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. They put their ideas together and kicked off collaborative research, looking at anthropological data and microbiological analysis to understand environmental phenomena over time.

    It is at the intersection of social and natural science where Suhaimi gets most excited about her work. She feels she is onto something when her ethnographic data or historical data finds resonance with the scientific data that’s available.

    “I feel like I’m gathering potential pieces of a big puzzle,” she says. “I’m not quite sure how they fit together, or if they even fit at all.”

    For instance, water currents shape microalgal species populations and distributions. Fishing communities use the currents when building floating fish farms. Lower current speeds are preferred for fish farms, but this also means weak dispersal of algal biomass, which increases the likelihood of harmful algal bloom.

    “So, these pieces of the puzzle, they fit,” she says. “But they fit awkwardly, in the sense that what makes ecoculture successful is also what puts it at risk.”

    Investment in a transdisciplinary experiment

    Figuring out this tension on a global scale is crucial to food supplies and overall sustainability.

    Before the pandemic, Suhaimi followed coastal fishing communities. She learned about their way of interacting with the coastal waters and studied their practices, habits, and knowledge. She discovered immense creativity in these communities, as well as established scientific practices. While Suhaimi’s colleagues in microbiology rely on their water sampling filters to document changes, coastal communities observe changes in the coloration, or they experience changes through their interactions with the water where they make a living.

    For Suhaimi, a multiplicity of sciences tell the story of coastal conditions over time, and all voices are needed in the search for solutions.

    In the long run, when she is able to narrow down decisive factors, Suhaimi’s findings can inform policymaking in terms of managing human activities in coastal waters. Her research can determine the kind of environmental monitoring that would be necessary to keep both scientists and the public informed.

    While UC Santa Cruz previously didn’t have a department focused on Southeast Asian studies, the campus is nevertheless particularly well equipped to offer unconventional contributions to the field. SEACoast is drawing on the university’s expertise and recognition in ocean science, social justice, and environmental studies, as well as its tradition of bridging departmental divides with a mindset for collaboration.

    Building blocks of a new research hub

    SEACoast has established its presence as an institution on campus and is quickly becoming a lively intellectual center, thriving on exactly what it set out to do: galvanize diverse academic experts interested in charting new territory. Reaching beyond institutional structures provides an opportunity for creatively thinking about human-caused environmental challenges.

    SEACoast’s slow seminar on harmful algal blooms, led by Marilou Sison-Mangus, assistant professor of ocean sciences, ultimately led to the funding of a collaboration grant for Suhaimi.

    For Tsing, one of the most exciting developments of SEACoast’s inaugural year has been facilitating the
    hiring of a new faculty member in UC Santa Cruz’s History Department. Kathleen Gutierrez is a
    scholar of Southeast Asian environmental history, and her research focuses on botanical
    collecting in the Philippines across colonial and post-colonial eras.

    Tsing is thrilled with the positive reception at UC Santa Cruz and the rapid growth of the intellectual hub in producing promising international dialogues and collaborations. She has many plans for the center. She’s fundraising for scholarships and is in negotiations with Indonesian government agencies to include UC Santa Cruz among universities authorized to enroll Indonesian students in environmental sciences.

    SEACoast continues to break open departmental discourse into collaborative discourse. Their research promises to improve the livelihood of Southeast Asian coastal communities by helping them preserve and rebuild diverse and vibrant ecological zones and manage sustainable food systems.

    “If we are able to make even some small dents in how natural scientists, social scientists, humanists, and artists can work together, that would be extraordinary,“ Tsing says.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    UC Santa Cruz (US) Lick Observatory Since 1888 Mt Hamilton, in San Jose, California, Altitude 1,283 m (4,209 ft)

    UC Observatories Lick Automated Planet Finder fully robotic 2.4-meter optical telescope at Lick Observatory, situated on the summit of Mount Hamilton, east of San Jose, California, USA.

    The UCO Lick C. Donald Shane telescope is a 120-inch (3.0-meter) reflecting telescope located at the Lick Observatory, Mt Hamilton, in San Jose, California, Altitude 1,283 m (4,209 ft).
    UC Santa Cruz (US) campus.

    The University of California-Santa Cruz (US) , opened in 1965 and grew, one college at a time, to its current (2008-09) enrollment of more than 16,000 students. Undergraduates pursue more than 60 majors supervised by divisional deans of humanities, physical & biological sciences, social sciences, and arts. Graduate students work toward graduate certificates, master’s degrees, or doctoral degrees in more than 30 academic fields under the supervision of the divisional and graduate deans. The dean of the Jack Baskin School of Engineering oversees the campus’s undergraduate and graduate engineering programs.

    UCSC is the home base for the Lick Observatory.

    UCO Lick Observatory’s 36-inch Great Refractor telescope housed in the South (large) Dome of main building.

    Search for extraterrestrial intelligence expands at Lick Observatory
    New instrument scans the sky for pulses of infrared light
    March 23, 2015
    By Hilary Lebow


    Astronomers are expanding the search for extraterrestrial intelligence into a new realm with detectors tuned to infrared light at UC’s Lick Observatory. A new instrument, called NIROSETI, will soon scour the sky for messages from other worlds.

    “Infrared light would be an excellent means of interstellar communication,” said Shelley Wright, an assistant professor of physics at UC San Diego (US) who led the development of the new instrument while at the U Toronto Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics (CA).

    Shelley Wright of UC San Diego with (US) NIROSETI, developed at U Toronto Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics (CA) at the 1-meter Nickel Telescope at Lick Observatory at UC Santa Cruz

    Wright worked on an earlier SETI project at Lick Observatory as a UC Santa Cruz undergraduate, when she built an optical instrument designed by University of California-Berkeley (US) researchers. The infrared project takes advantage of new technology not available for that first optical search.

    Infrared light would be a good way for extraterrestrials to get our attention here on Earth, since pulses from a powerful infrared laser could outshine a star, if only for a billionth of a second. Interstellar gas and dust is almost transparent to near infrared, so these signals can be seen from great distances. It also takes less energy to send information using infrared signals than with visible light.

    Frank Drake, professor emeritus of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz and director emeritus of the SETI Institute, said there are several additional advantages to a search in the infrared realm.

    Frank Drake with his Drake Equation. Credit Frank Drake.

    “The signals are so strong that we only need a small telescope to receive them. Smaller telescopes can offer more observational time, and that is good because we need to search many stars for a chance of success,” said Drake.

    The only downside is that extraterrestrials would need to be transmitting their signals in our direction, Drake said, though he sees this as a positive side to that limitation. “If we get a signal from someone who’s aiming for us, it could mean there’s altruism in the universe. I like that idea. If they want to be friendly, that’s who we will find.”

    Scientists have searched the skies for radio signals for more than 50 years and expanded their search into the optical realm more than a decade ago. The idea of searching in the infrared is not a new one, but instruments capable of capturing pulses of infrared light only recently became available.

    “We had to wait,” Wright said. “I spent eight years waiting and watching as new technology emerged.”

    Now that technology has caught up, the search will extend to stars thousands of light years away, rather than just hundreds. NIROSETI, or Near-Infrared Optical Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, could also uncover new information about the physical universe.

    “This is the first time Earthlings have looked at the universe at infrared wavelengths with nanosecond time scales,” said Dan Werthimer, UC Berkeley SETI Project Director. “The instrument could discover new astrophysical phenomena, or perhaps answer the question of whether we are alone.”

    NIROSETI will also gather more information than previous optical detectors by recording levels of light over time so that patterns can be analyzed for potential signs of other civilizations.

    “Searching for intelligent life in the universe is both thrilling and somewhat unorthodox,” said Claire Max, director of UC Observatories and professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz. “Lick Observatory has already been the site of several previous SETI searches, so this is a very exciting addition to the current research taking place.”

    NIROSETI will scan the skies several times a week on the Nickel 1-meter telescope at Lick Observatory, located on Mt. Hamilton east of San Jose.

     
  • richardmitnick 12:09 pm on June 18, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Science Communication graduate earns team Pulitzer Prize honor at 'The New York Times'", , , Calderone contributed to: the coronavirus map; the nursing home tracker; and the college tracker., Calderone earned her B.S. in neuroscience and behavior from UCSC in 2008., Science Communication, The writing team filled a data vacuum that helped local governments; healthcare providers; businesses; and individuals to be better prepared and protected., University of California-Santa Cruz (US), Women in STEM-Julia Calderone   

    From University of California-Santa Cruz (US) : Women in STEM-Julia Calderone “Science Communication graduate earns team Pulitzer Prize honor at ‘The New York Times'” 

    From University of California-Santa Cruz (US)

    June 15, 2021
    Public Affairs
    publicaffairs@ucsc.edu

    1
    Julia Calderone, a senior staff editor on the newspaper’s Well team for health and family, contributed extensively to three elements of the package: the coronavirus map, the nursing home tracker and the college tracker. Photo courtesy of Julia Calderone.

    Julia Calderone, a staff editor at The New York Times and a graduate of UCSC’s Science Communication Program, was among a large team of reporters and editors honored on June 11 with the 2021 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.

    The award, regarded as the most prestigious of the annual Pulitzer Prizes in journalism, recognized a deep package of 15 stories and data-analysis displays about the coronavirus pandemic assembled in 2020 by The New York Times.

    The Pulitzer Prize Board cited the team for its “courageous, prescient and sweeping coverage of the coronavirus pandemic that exposed racial and economic inequities, government failures in the U.S. and beyond, and filled a data vacuum that helped local governments, healthcare providers, businesses and individuals to be better prepared and protected.”

    Calderone, a senior staff editor on the newspaper’s Well team for health and family, contributed extensively to three elements of the package: the coronavirus map, the nursing home tracker and the college tracker.

    Calderone earned her B.S. in neuroscience and behavior from UCSC in 2008, then worked for several years in Los Angeles at a company that designed DNA-based sequencing tests to screen candidates for organ transplants. She then returned to Santa Cruz to study journalism in the Science Communication Program, where she earned her graduate certificate in 2014.

    “I will always attribute this moment in my career to the Science Communication Program,” said Calderone in an email message about her Pulitzer honor.

    Prior to her position at The New York Times, Calderone was associate editor for health and food at Consumer Reports. She also has worked as a reporter and writer for Scientific American, National Aeronautics Space Agency (US), and Business Insider. During her studies at UCSC, Calderone trained as a news intern at the Monterey Herald and KUSP radio.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    UC Santa Cruz (US) Lick Observatory Since 1888 Mt Hamilton, in San Jose, California, Altitude 1,283 m (4,209 ft)

    UC Observatories Lick Automated Planet Finder fully robotic 2.4-meter optical telescope at Lick Observatory, situated on the summit of Mount Hamilton, east of San Jose, California, USA.

    The UCO Lick C. Donald Shane telescope is a 120-inch (3.0-meter) reflecting telescope located at the Lick Observatory, Mt Hamilton, in San Jose, California, Altitude 1,283 m (4,209 ft).
    UC Santa Cruz (US) campus.

    The University of California-Santa Cruz (US) , opened in 1965 and grew, one college at a time, to its current (2008-09) enrollment of more than 16,000 students. Undergraduates pursue more than 60 majors supervised by divisional deans of humanities, physical & biological sciences, social sciences, and arts. Graduate students work toward graduate certificates, master’s degrees, or doctoral degrees in more than 30 academic fields under the supervision of the divisional and graduate deans. The dean of the Jack Baskin School of Engineering oversees the campus’s undergraduate and graduate engineering programs.

    UCSC is the home base for the Lick Observatory.

    UCO Lick Observatory’s 36-inch Great Refractor telescope housed in the South (large) Dome of main building.

    Search for extraterrestrial intelligence expands at Lick Observatory
    New instrument scans the sky for pulses of infrared light
    March 23, 2015
    By Hilary Lebow


    Astronomers are expanding the search for extraterrestrial intelligence into a new realm with detectors tuned to infrared light at UC’s Lick Observatory. A new instrument, called NIROSETI, will soon scour the sky for messages from other worlds.

    “Infrared light would be an excellent means of interstellar communication,” said Shelley Wright, an assistant professor of physics at UC San Diego (US) who led the development of the new instrument while at the U Toronto Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics (CA).

    Shelley Wright of UC San Diego with (US) NIROSETI, developed at U Toronto Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics (CA) at the 1-meter Nickel Telescope at Lick Observatory at UC Santa Cruz

    Wright worked on an earlier SETI project at Lick Observatory as a UC Santa Cruz undergraduate, when she built an optical instrument designed by University of California-Berkeley (US) researchers. The infrared project takes advantage of new technology not available for that first optical search.

    Infrared light would be a good way for extraterrestrials to get our attention here on Earth, since pulses from a powerful infrared laser could outshine a star, if only for a billionth of a second. Interstellar gas and dust is almost transparent to near infrared, so these signals can be seen from great distances. It also takes less energy to send information using infrared signals than with visible light.

    Frank Drake, professor emeritus of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz and director emeritus of the SETI Institute, said there are several additional advantages to a search in the infrared realm.

    Frank Drake with his Drake Equation. Credit Frank Drake.

    “The signals are so strong that we only need a small telescope to receive them. Smaller telescopes can offer more observational time, and that is good because we need to search many stars for a chance of success,” said Drake.

    The only downside is that extraterrestrials would need to be transmitting their signals in our direction, Drake said, though he sees this as a positive side to that limitation. “If we get a signal from someone who’s aiming for us, it could mean there’s altruism in the universe. I like that idea. If they want to be friendly, that’s who we will find.”

    Scientists have searched the skies for radio signals for more than 50 years and expanded their search into the optical realm more than a decade ago. The idea of searching in the infrared is not a new one, but instruments capable of capturing pulses of infrared light only recently became available.

    “We had to wait,” Wright said. “I spent eight years waiting and watching as new technology emerged.”

    Now that technology has caught up, the search will extend to stars thousands of light years away, rather than just hundreds. NIROSETI, or Near-Infrared Optical Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, could also uncover new information about the physical universe.

    “This is the first time Earthlings have looked at the universe at infrared wavelengths with nanosecond time scales,” said Dan Werthimer, UC Berkeley SETI Project Director. “The instrument could discover new astrophysical phenomena, or perhaps answer the question of whether we are alone.”

    NIROSETI will also gather more information than previous optical detectors by recording levels of light over time so that patterns can be analyzed for potential signs of other civilizations.

    “Searching for intelligent life in the universe is both thrilling and somewhat unorthodox,” said Claire Max, director of UC Observatories and professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz. “Lick Observatory has already been the site of several previous SETI searches, so this is a very exciting addition to the current research taking place.”

    NIROSETI will scan the skies several times a week on the Nickel 1-meter telescope at Lick Observatory, located on Mt. Hamilton east of San Jose.

     
  • richardmitnick 6:29 pm on June 13, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Biologist Roxanne Beltran wins funding from Beckman Young Investigator Program", Acoustics for the ocean soundscape, , Beltran has a decade of experience working with elephant seals and other marine mammals., For over three decades UCSC researchers have been tagging and studying elephant seals at Año Nuevo Reserve managed by the UC Natural Reserve System., , The tags will effectively eavesdrop on whales by recording their vocalizations and echolocations., University of California-Santa Cruz (US), Women in STEM-Roxanne Beltran   

    From University of California-Santa Cruz (US) : Women in STEM-Roxanne Beltran “Biologist Roxanne Beltran wins funding from Beckman Young Investigator Program” 

    From University of California-Santa Cruz (US)

    June 03, 2021
    Tim Stephens
    stephens@ucsc.edu

    New project aims to provide the first large-scale recordings of sound in the open ocean, using elephant seals as a platform for a novel acoustic recorder.

    1
    Roxanne Beltran (Photo by C. Lagattuta)

    The Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation has awarded a $600,000 grant to Roxanne Beltran, assistant professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at UC Santa Cruz, through its Beckman Young Investigator Program.

    The grant will fund a new project to develop and deploy a novel acoustic recorder for eavesdropping on the ocean soundscape. Beltran plans to use this new technology to monitor the acoustic environment of elephant seals, which migrate thousands of miles across the North Pacific Ocean. By using elephant seals as a mobile sensor platform to carry the acoustic recorder, Beltran will explore poorly understood areas of the open ocean, including the “twilight zone” just beyond the reach of sunlight (below about 650 feet).

    “We want to figure out what the open ocean and the twilight zone sound like to an elephant seal—what sounds they are exposed to in terms of both manmade noise like shipping traffic as well as other species like whales,” she said.

    For over three decades UCSC researchers have been tagging and studying elephant seals at Año Nuevo Reserve managed by the UC Natural Reserve System. Daniel Costa, distinguished professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and director of UCSC’s Institute of Marine Sciences, has been a pioneer in the development and use of electronic tags to track the movements and behavior of elephant seals and other marine mammals and to gather oceanographic data.

    Beltran, a UCSC alumna (Stevenson ’13, marine biology) who joined Costa’s lab as a postdoctoral researcher before being appointed to the faculty, has a decade of experience working with elephant seals and other marine mammals. The new project will expand into the acoustic realm her lab’s ongoing efforts to study the ocean environment and ecology of migrating elephant seals.

    “The importance of understanding ocean sounds has increased significantly in recent years, but our ability to monitor the soundscapes of the open ocean is logistically difficult,” Costa said. “Elephant seals have provided an excellent platform for measuring ocean temperature and salinity, and Roxanne’s study will add ocean acoustics to those crucial baseline measurements.”

    Oceanographers and biologists have used various approaches to monitor sound in the ocean, but most are limited to areas near the coast. Ship-based surveys can go beyond coastal regions, but they are expensive and limited by the noise of the ship. Elephant seals migrate far offshore and move quietly and rapidly through the ocean ecosystem in search of prey.

    “Using elephant seals is like having a smart sensor for biological hot spots, because they navigate straight to the regions with lots of productivity and prey. They can tell us a lot about the environment out in the middle of the open ocean,” Beltran said.

    The tags will effectively eavesdrop on whales by recording their vocalizations and echolocations, and will also detect ships, sonar, and other sounds in the open ocean. Beltran said she is excited to find out what the tags will reveal about the soundscape of the North Pacific Ocean. Among other things, she hopes to learn more about the elusive beaked whales, a poorly understood family of deep-diving whales.

    “We will also be able to learn if elephant seals are exposed to noises from sonar or oil exploration and how that affects them,” Beltran said. “We think acoustic cues are hugely important to elephant seals because they spend a lot of time in complete darkness, feeding at night and at depth, but we have no idea what they hear out there.”

    By enabling more comprehensive monitoring of ocean noise and revealing the most prevalent and harmful sound sources, the project will provide valuable information and recommendations for marine mammal conservation.

    The first stage of the project will be to develop a durable high-capacity acoustic recorder with the specifications needed for the project. Beltran will work with her colleague Holger Klinck, an acoustics expert at Cornell University (US), to develop the necessary hardware and software. Improvements in the acoustic tags will include longer duration recordings and a stronger housing to withstand the extreme pressure of the deep ocean.

    After testing and validation of the new devices, the researchers will attach them to 24 adult female elephant seals over three years starting in February 2022. The tags are attached to the seals’ fur and are removed when the animals return to the beach and molt. The fidelity of elephant seals to their breeding grounds enables the researchers to reliably recover the tags. Beltran plans to train a team of UCSC undergraduate students to assist with the field work and undertake independent projects through the Undergraduate Work-Study Research Initiative.

    “In addition to teaching us about large marine vertebrates, our fieldwork provides an ideal outdoor classroom for the next generation of biologists,” she said.

    The Beckman Young Investigator Program provides research support to the most promising young faculty members in the early stages of their academic careers in the chemical and life sciences, particularly to foster the invention of methods, instruments, and materials that will open up new avenues of research in science.

    “I feel lucky for the opportunity to be a part of this foundation and to contribute to the legacy of Dr. Beckman, a kind and curious innovator who is making it possible for young scientists to dream big,” Beltran said.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    UC Santa Cruz (US) Lick Observatory Since 1888 Mt Hamilton, in San Jose, California, Altitude 1,283 m (4,209 ft)

    UC Observatories Lick Automated Planet Finder fully robotic 2.4-meter optical telescope at Lick Observatory, situated on the summit of Mount Hamilton, east of San Jose, California, USA.

    The UCO Lick C. Donald Shane telescope is a 120-inch (3.0-meter) reflecting telescope located at the Lick Observatory, Mt Hamilton, in San Jose, California, Altitude 1,283 m (4,209 ft).
    UC Santa Cruz (US) campus.

    The University of California-Santa Cruz (US) , opened in 1965 and grew, one college at a time, to its current (2008-09) enrollment of more than 16,000 students. Undergraduates pursue more than 60 majors supervised by divisional deans of humanities, physical & biological sciences, social sciences, and arts. Graduate students work toward graduate certificates, master’s degrees, or doctoral degrees in more than 30 academic fields under the supervision of the divisional and graduate deans. The dean of the Jack Baskin School of Engineering oversees the campus’s undergraduate and graduate engineering programs.

    UCSC is the home base for the Lick Observatory.

    UCO Lick Observatory’s 36-inch Great Refractor telescope housed in the South (large) Dome of main building.

    Search for extraterrestrial intelligence expands at Lick Observatory
    New instrument scans the sky for pulses of infrared light
    March 23, 2015
    By Hilary Lebow


    Astronomers are expanding the search for extraterrestrial intelligence into a new realm with detectors tuned to infrared light at UC’s Lick Observatory. A new instrument, called NIROSETI, will soon scour the sky for messages from other worlds.

    “Infrared light would be an excellent means of interstellar communication,” said Shelley Wright, an assistant professor of physics at UC San Diego (US) who led the development of the new instrument while at the U Toronto Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics (CA).

    Shelley Wright of UC San Diego with (US) NIROSETI, developed at U Toronto Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics (CA) at the 1-meter Nickel Telescope at Lick Observatory at UC Santa Cruz

    Wright worked on an earlier SETI project at Lick Observatory as a UC Santa Cruz undergraduate, when she built an optical instrument designed by University of California-Berkeley (US) researchers. The infrared project takes advantage of new technology not available for that first optical search.

    Infrared light would be a good way for extraterrestrials to get our attention here on Earth, since pulses from a powerful infrared laser could outshine a star, if only for a billionth of a second. Interstellar gas and dust is almost transparent to near infrared, so these signals can be seen from great distances. It also takes less energy to send information using infrared signals than with visible light.

    Frank Drake, professor emeritus of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz and director emeritus of the SETI Institute, said there are several additional advantages to a search in the infrared realm.

    Frank Drake with his Drake Equation. Credit Frank Drake.

    “The signals are so strong that we only need a small telescope to receive them. Smaller telescopes can offer more observational time, and that is good because we need to search many stars for a chance of success,” said Drake.

    The only downside is that extraterrestrials would need to be transmitting their signals in our direction, Drake said, though he sees this as a positive side to that limitation. “If we get a signal from someone who’s aiming for us, it could mean there’s altruism in the universe. I like that idea. If they want to be friendly, that’s who we will find.”

    Scientists have searched the skies for radio signals for more than 50 years and expanded their search into the optical realm more than a decade ago. The idea of searching in the infrared is not a new one, but instruments capable of capturing pulses of infrared light only recently became available.

    “We had to wait,” Wright said. “I spent eight years waiting and watching as new technology emerged.”

    Now that technology has caught up, the search will extend to stars thousands of light years away, rather than just hundreds. NIROSETI, or Near-Infrared Optical Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, could also uncover new information about the physical universe.

    “This is the first time Earthlings have looked at the universe at infrared wavelengths with nanosecond time scales,” said Dan Werthimer, UC Berkeley SETI Project Director. “The instrument could discover new astrophysical phenomena, or perhaps answer the question of whether we are alone.”

    NIROSETI will also gather more information than previous optical detectors by recording levels of light over time so that patterns can be analyzed for potential signs of other civilizations.

    “Searching for intelligent life in the universe is both thrilling and somewhat unorthodox,” said Claire Max, director of UC Observatories and professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz. “Lick Observatory has already been the site of several previous SETI searches, so this is a very exciting addition to the current research taking place.”

    NIROSETI will scan the skies several times a week on the Nickel 1-meter telescope at Lick Observatory, located on Mt. Hamilton east of San Jose.

     
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