Summer student excellence recognized

Last month three alumni from the Observatories’ prestigious summer student program were recognized with various honors for their scholarship and independent research projects. 

“These awards illustrate the caliber of students who are selected for our rigorous summer program, as well as the quality of the research projects that they undertake while they are with us,” said Observatories Director John Mulchaey. “We are so proud of all of them and excited to follow their careers as they progress.” 

The members of each class of summer students conduct original research projects under the mentorship of one or more Carnegie scientist. They also participate in workshops to build their technical and communications skills, as well as in professional development discussions and trips to visit other local scientific organizations. 

Last month, three-time summer student Sal Fu was selected from a pool of 2,211 candidates as one of 30 Paul & Daisy Soros Fellows—a highly selective honor for first- and second-generation immigrants chosen for their potential to make significant contributions to the United States. 

While she was an undergraduate student at Pomona College, Fu spent the summers of 2016, 2017, and 2018 working with Observatories Staff Scientist Josh Simon researching mysterious, fast-moving stars that were once part of a dwarf galaxy that was shredded 70 million years ago by its proximity to the black hole at the center of our own Milky Way. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in astrophysics at U.C. Berkeley.

Also in April, two-time summer student Sunny Rhoades won the American Astronomical Society’s Chambliss Astronomy Achievement Student Award for the quality of the poster she presented at the organization’s annual meeting in January. The honor recognizes exemplary research shared at the conference by undergraduate and graduate students. 

Rhoades, also from Pomona, worked with Observatories Staff Scientists Gwen Rudie and Drew Newman to study how the metallic elements produced in galaxies affect the chemistry of the surrounding intergalactic medium. She will begin a Ph.D. program at UC Davis in the fall. 

In late March, 2019 summer student Emmanuel Doradola received an Honorable Mention for the National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship.  The fellows and honorable mentions are chosen for their outstanding scholarship in STEM fields and for their likelihood of contributing the vitality of the scientific endeavor in the United States. 

Doradola, a Cal State Northridge student, worked with Johanna Teske, a NASA Hubble Fellow at the Observatories, to determine how stellar variability affects the radial velocity measurements astronomers use to identify exoplanets. He will begin a graduate program at Dartmouth College in the fall. 

“The Carnegie Observatories summer student experience is designed to give students from many different academic backgrounds an intensive research experience, as well as to develop related skills and build confidence,” said Rudie, who is also the program’s director. “We remain connected with our summer program alumni as they move out into the world and are always proud to learn of their achievements, including these impressive honors for Sal, Sunny, and Emmanuel.” 

The summer student program is funded, in part, by support from The Rose Hills Foundation and The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation.