13 June 2012
Alyx Stevens has been selected as this year's recipient of the Astronomy Outstanding Senior Award. This award is given annually to a graduating senior for outstanding overall performance (grades, research, service).
Per Dr. Shields, "What really distinguishes Alyx is her strong contribution both in research and in service. Alyx began research on quasars with my group in January of her first year. She is co-author of a submitted ApJ paper on binary quasars (http://arxiv.org/abs/1108.0383) that recently received a favorable referee report and should be accepted in a few weeks. A second co-authored ApJ paper on quasar accretion disks should be submitted within two months. Alyx has presented her results at the May 2010 and January 2012 meetings of the AAS and at a recent talk to the Kiwanis Club of Austin.
Alyx's contributions to the binary quasar project include spectral measurements and Monte Carlo simulations to test the statistical significance of the results. Alyx's main project is a comparison of observed quasar spectra with predictions based on accretion disk theory. Alyx quickly grasped the scientific ideas and excelled at measuring emission-line intensities and analyzing the results, along with running a program to compute a series of synthetic disk spectra, and computing photoionization models with the CLOUDY program.
Alyx has an extraordinary record of service to UT and the wider community. In her first two years at UT, Alyx was a member of the Senate of College Councils, holding the office of Undergraduate Research Chair. This involved a major role in promoting undergraduate research awareness and organizing the annual CNS Research Week, administering scholarships, and working closely with the Office of Undergraduate Research. Alyx also is a member of Orange Jackets, a highly selective UT service organization with a demanding schedule of activities on and off campus, and a member of the Texas Spirit and Traditions Council. This spring she served on the CNS Dean Selection Committee as well."