There are many opportunities for students to become involved in research projects on campus during the semester or over the summer. Here are a few examples of these opportunities:
Chris De Pree studies star formation in the Milky Way and other galaxies (using the EVLA radio telescope), and exoplanetary transits (using the SARA-North and SARA-South optical telescopes). De Pree and has several active projects that are structured to involve student work. Interested students should have taken Astronomy 120 and 121, as well as Physics 110-111. Familiarity with computers is helpful, but not essential, as you will be able to learn the software needed to analyze the data. Observations are made with the Expanded Very Large Array (EVLA) in Socorro, New Mexico and the Southeastern Association for Research in Astronomy (SARA) telescopes located at Kitt Peak National Observatory (KPNO) in Arizona, Cerro Tololo Interamerican Observatory (CTIO) in Chile and Roque de los Muchachos Observatory (RM) in the Canary Islands.
Projects typically take an academic year to complete, so if you are interested, please make contact early in the fall semester. Some current projects: (1) observation of known exoplanetary transits to detect the presence of multiple planet systems, (2) detection of exoplanetary transits in systems identified by their radial velocity curves (Transit Ephemeris Refinement Monitoring Survey), (3) observations of ultracompact HII regions with the EVLA in Socorro, NM. Student projects can involve data acquisition (observing), data reduction (making images from raw data), data analysis, or more generally, all three. For more details, see Chris De Pree's personal webpage.
Another research opportunity for students with working a laser radar to measure properties of the atmosphere. The EARL(Eye-safe Atmospheric Research Lidar) system located in the Bradley Observatory has the capacity to detect and measure both weather phenomena and pollutants in the Earth’s atmosphere. This instrument uses a 523 nm wavelength laser to collect data about the atmosphere above Agnes Scott. The laser beam is sent up through a hatch in the roof of the Observatory. Light from this laser beam scatters off of particles in the atmosphere, and some of the light scatters at 180° and returns straight back where it came from. That light is then detected by a receiver system. There are a wide variety of projects available for students interested in laser science, data analysis and/or atmospheric science. Read more about this project here.
Dr. Ackerman's research focuses on biomedical applications of Cerenkov radiation. Her group works with computer simulations using Geant4 to predict the light produced by radioactive decays and with low light imaging systems. There are opportunities to work with programming (in C++ and Python), optics, radioactive sources, electronics, and image analysis. Certain projects are well-suited to students interested in particle physics, engineering, medicine, and computer science. For further information, see Dr. Ackerman's webpage.