We strongly encourage our graduate students to get involved with astronomical research as soon as possible, typically in their first semester in the program. We offer opportunities for both observational and theoretical projects in galaxy evolution, stellar populations, stellar physics, cosmology, and galactic dynamics. Students have access to our wide-field Schmidt telescope at Kitt Peak, Arizona, early access to data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, and access to CWRU’s high speed computing cluster. Examples of possible projects for incoming graduate students can be found here.
Aaron Watkins Aaron Watkins is using the Burrell Schmidt telescope, as well as archival multiwavelength data, to study the properties of the stars that shouldn’t be there: populations of stars living far beyond where they should be able to form. (Advisor: Chris Mihos)
Jay Franck is interested in identifying and studying protoclusters of galaxies very early in the Universe. A protocluster is a diffuse group of galaxies that will collapse into a gravitationally bound cluster after billions of years. Searching for more distant protoclusters is essentially watching the Universe assemble itself in reverse, and can tell astronomers how galaxy structures grow and evolve over time. (Advisor: Stacy McGaugh)
Jakub Prchlik is interested in the evolution of star formation in the Milky Way. Star formation can be directly observed in the disk of the Milky Way; however, a roughly 100 kpc spherical distribution of stars known as the Milky Way’s stellar halo is not currently forming stars. Stars create most elements heavier than Lithium, so determining the elemental abundance of a star shows what type of stars polluted the gas and dust that created the observed star. Using the elemental abundances of halo stars we are beginning to understand what the star formation environment was like early on in the Milky Way. (Advisor: Heather Morrison)