Undergraduate Program in the News

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rebecca larson

Rebecca Larson

The Unexpected Journey of a Veteran Student and Astronomer

May 2016

The educational journey of one exceptional student has taken her from translating Arabic in the Air Force to learning the secrets of the stars. Rebecca Larson is a Dean's Honored Graduate in Astronomy, who will receive bachelor's degrees in both astronomy and physics at Saturday's commencement ceremony. She returns to campus in the fall to pursue a Ph.D. in astronomy. more..

Sarafina Nance and Rebecca Larson Selected as 2016 Dean's Honored Graduates

April 2016

sarafina nance

Sarafina Nance

rebecca larson

Rebecca Larson

Astronomy graduating seniors Sarafina Nance and Rebecca Larson will receive special recognition at commencement ceremonies as Dean's Honored Graduates, the highest honor awarded to graduates in the College of Natural Sciences, and will be recognized at a smaller ceremony with faculty mentors and families. Honorees selected by faculty, exhibit excellence in the classroom as well as substantial achievement in scientific research, an independent intellectual pursuit, or exceptional service and leadership to the college and university.

Sarafina Nance is a double major in physics and astronomy and is part of a group of undergraduate students working with Dr. Craig Wheeler on a project to study the interiors of stars, particularly massive pre-supernova stars, using their pulsations as seismological probes. She has also participated in a REU program at Harvard last summer, where she did a detailed survey of the evolution of massive stars. She is a member of the prestigious Dean's Scholar's Program and mentors your women in STEM fields.

Rebecca Larson has worked on three different research projects during her tenure at UT Austin, having worked with Dr. Neal Evans, Dr. Joel Green, and Dr. Shardha Jogee. She also had a summer research internship at the STScI Space Astronomy Summer Program (SASP) where she studied distant galaxies and presented her results in a poster at the American Astronomical Society meeting this past January 2016. She has received numerous awards, including the first Veteran Academic Leadership Award, given by UT's Student Veteran Services.

College of Natural Sciences Recognizes 18 College Scholars and 1 Distinguished College Scholar Among Astronomy Undergraduates

April 2016

On Friday, April 15, the College of Natural Sciences held an Honors Ceremony to recognize its College Scholars. The Astronomy Department had 18 students recognized as a College Scholars and 1 recognized as a Distinguished College Scholar this year.

To be a College Scholar, students must have registered as an undergraduate student, completed at least 30 hours in residence, be ranked in the top 20% of their class in each school, and have an in-residence GPA of 3.50. To be a Distinguished College Scholar, a student must also be ranked in the top 4% of their class.

The honored students are:

Tammy Birkline
Sophia Bogat
Elizabeth Burnap
Taha Dawoodbhoy
Courtney Deal
Ricardo Delfin Garcia
Joel Doss
Jacqueline Feuge
Hannah Hasson
Taylor Hoyt
Saki Kamon
Kayla Leonard
Sae Saito

Larson Scullion (Distinguished College Scholar)
Richard Seifert (Book Award Winner)
James Sullivan
Christian Tatum
Nicholas Watson
Alec Wills

In addition, Richard Seifert received a Book Award which recognizes students who receive high marks on exams and displays a passion for the subject matter that extends beyond course requirements. Richard was nominated by Prof Chris Sneden for his excellent research study on anomalous 'blue straggler' stars in one of our Galaxy's star clusters. This study, being supervised by McDonald postdoctoral fellow Natalie Gosnell, involves analysis of high-resolution stellar spectra that have been obtained with the innovative IGRINS spectrograph on the 1.7m Smith Telescope. He was awarded the book selected by Prof Sneden, "Astrophysics of Gaseous Nebulae and Active Galactic Nuclei" by Donald E. Osterbrock and Gary J. Ferland.

kayla leonard

Kayla Leonard

Kayla Leonard Named 2016 Barry M. Goldwater Scholar Honorable Mention

April 2016

Undergraduate Kayla Leonard has been named a 2016 Barry M. Goldwater Scholar Honorable Mention. The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program is a highly competitive, national program established by Congress in 1986 to provide a continuing source of highly qualified scientists, mathematicians, and engineers by awarding scholarships to outstanding college students who intend to pursue research careers in these fields. Kayla is a senior Astronomy/Physics major and her career goal is to pursue a Ph.D. in Physics. She aspires to conduct research in particle physics and see how it applies to cosmology and to teach at the university level.