About TAURUS

Our mission and our beginning.

Our beginning.

The University of Texas at Austin sits at one of the most socioeconomically and ethnically diverse regions in the United States, but our history of scholarship in astronomy and astrophysics does not mirror that rich heritage. In late 2015, members of the UT Austin Department of Astronomy launched the TAURUS program which combats social marginalization of certain groups -- particularly Black Americans, Latinx Americans and Native Americans -- in Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields.

Among different STEM fields, the representation of Black Americans, Latinx Americans and Native Americans is particularly low in physics and astronomy. The Texas Astronomy Undergraduate Research experience for Under-represented Students (TAURUS) provides essential career ``boosts'' to highly-motivated students from traditionally marginalized backgrounds. Our aim is to increase retention of excellent students of color in astrophysics research by preparing them for graduate study in astronomy or the STEM workforce.

With generous support for our inaugural year from the Cox Endowment Fund and the Board of Visitors at the Department of Astronomy and McDonald Observatory, TAURUS was able to launch for summer 2016 with its first class of five Scholars. Over 40 members of the astronomy community in Austin contributed their time and effort to ensure the program was a success, and will continue to be in future years.

Goals for the Future

TAURUS is only getting started, with the hope that we can expand to support more students in the coming years. With a minimum of five scholars in residence each summer, we periodically fundraise for cover Scholars' local expenses. If you are passionate about equity and inclusion in astrophysics research, we invite you to contribute by getting in touch, visiting our HornRaiser page, and sharing our promotional video.

Who We Are

Prof. Caitlin Casey
Assistant Professor, UT Austin
TAURUS Director and 2017 Mentor
Prof. Casey is Director of the TAURUS program, overseeing selection of scholars, mentoring, the day-to-day needs of scholars in residence, and also seeks funding opportunities for TAURUS. Her research focuses on dust and gas observations of galaxies, particularly in the early Universe.
Dr. Keely Finkelstein
Research Scientist and Senior Lecturer, UT Austin
TAURUS Co-Director
Dr. Finkelstein also oversees many of the logistical challenges in running a summer program, including the day-to-day needs of the scholars in residence in Austin. She is leader of the Education and Public Outreach efforts for the Department of Astronomy and conducts research in galaxy evolution in the early Universe.
Prof. Steven Finkelstein
2016 TAURUS Mentor
Prof. Finkelstein is an Assistant Professor at UT Austin specializing in the Universe's first galaxies; Prof. Finkelstein supervised Danielle Rowland in the inaugural year of TAURUS.
Dr. Brendan Bowler
2016, 2017 TAURUS Mentor
Dr. Bowler is a Hubble Postdoctoral Fellow at UT Austin specializing in the direct imaging of planets around other stars; Dr. Bowler mentored Isaiah Tristan in the 2016 TAURUS program.
Dr. Chao-Ling Hung
2016, 2017 TAURUS Mentor
Dr. Hung is a Harlan J. Smith Postdoctoral Fellow at UT Austin specializing in galaxy evolution and formation near the peak epoch of the Universe's star formation; Dr. Hung supervised Derek Holman in the 2016 TAURUS program.
Dr. Andrew Mann
2016, 2017 TAURUS Mentor
Dr. Mann is a Hubble Postdoctoral Fellow at UT Austin specializing in low-mass star formation; Dr. Mann was a mentor in the 2016 TAURUS program, supervising Jennifer Medina.
Dr. Ivan Ramirez
2016 TAURUS Mentor
Dr. Ramirez was a postdoctoral fellow at UT Austin specializing in understanding stellar populations in the Milky Way Galaxy and served as a TAURUS mentor to Elizabeth Gutierrez.
Dr. Kristen McQuinn
TAURUS Seminar Coordinator 2016
Dr. McQuinn led the effort to organize the TAURUS seminar series in its inagural year. Dr. McQuinn is a research scientist at UT Austin specializing in the study of dwarf galaxies in the nearby Universe.
Sinclaire Manning
TAURUS Seminar Coordinator 2016, 2017
Sinclaire led the effort to organize the TAURUS seminar series in its inagural year. Sinclaire is a graduate student working with Prof. Casey on radio-luminous galaxy morphology and AGN/starburst separation.
Sydney Sherman
2016 TAURUS Website designer
Sydney is a graduate student working with Prof. Shardha Jogee on galaxy evolution in rich environments. Sydney launched the first version of our website that hosted our event calendar and seminar material in our inaugural year.