Friends of Ohio State Astronomy and Astrophysics (FOSAA)

News from Ohio State Astronomy and CCAPP, May 2018

Our May 2018 event kicked off off the third year of the Friends of Ohio State Astronomy and Astrophysics.

Department of Astronomy and the Center for Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics (CCAPP) have had another great string of accomplishments to celebrate in 2018. (For news from 2017, see here.)


Professor B. Scott Gaudi was awarded the NASA Outstanding Public Leadership Medal.

Emeritus Professor Bradley Peterson was awarded the NASA Exceptional Service Medal, recognizing his decades of contributions to NASA and his recent service on NASA's highest level advisory committees.

Professor and CCAPP Director John Beacom was named an Arts & Sciences Distinguished Professor.

Professor Chris Hirata was awarded the $100,000 New Horizons in Physics Prize for his "fundamental contributions to understanding the physics of early galaxy formation and to sharpening and applying the most powerful tools of precision cosmology."

Professor Kris Stanek was one of six recipients (among OSU's 3000+ faculty) of the 2018 Distinguished Scholar Award, recognizing his position as a pioneer of time-domain astronomy and the study of massive stars and supernovae.

Professor Chris Kochanek was awarded a Radcliffe Fellowship to support his sabbatical research in the 2018-2019 academic year.

Professor Todd Thompson was awarded a Simons Foundation Fellowship to support his sabbatical research in the 2018-2019 academic year.


Graduating PhD students Jonathan Brown, Dan Stevens, Jamie Tayar, and Steven Villanueva, have accepted postdoctoral positions at UC Santa Cruz, Penn State, University of Hawaii, and MIT, respectively. Tayar was awarded a NASA Hubble Fellowship, the most prestigious U.S. national postdoctoral fellowship. CCAPP Postdoctoral Fellow Tuguldur Sukhbold was also awarded a NASA Hubble Fellowship, which will support 3 years of further research at Ohio State. Incoming CCAPP Postdoctoral Fellow (and OSU undergraduate alumnus) Johnny Greco was awarded a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship, which will support 3 years of research at Ohio State. CCAPP Postdoctoral Fellow Michael Troxel, has accepted a faculty position at Duke University.

Graduate student Cassandra Lochhaas was awarded a dissertation-year Presidential Fellowship, the Graduate School's highest award for PhD candidates.

Patrick Vallely was awarded a 3-year National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship.

Undergraduate Anna Voelker was one of the two inaugural recipients of the $50,000 OSU President's Prize to support her AstroAccess initiative, which makes science accessible for people with disabilities around the world through inclusive astronomy outreach initiatives.

Led by undergraduate Gabriela Torrini, President of the Astronomical Society at OSU, a group of 35 undergraduates made a 2-day trip to the Green Bank Radio Observatory in West Virginia where they used the 40-foot telescope to map interstellar hydrogen in the Milky Way.

The 2016 Allan Markowitz Award for exceptional achievement by a graduate student in observational astronomy was awarded to Jonathan Brown for his work on galaxies and supernovae.

The David G. Price Fellowship for instrumentation was awarded to graduate student Steven Villanueva.


CCAPP Outreach Coordinator and COSI Chief Scientist Paul Sutter won the Best Director award at the Escape Velocity Film Festival for the film of Song of the Stars, the dance performance that he developed with choreographer Cassia Cramer. The film has been shown by more than 20 public broacasting stations across the country.

The Astronomical Society organized a very successful solar eclipse viewing on the Oval on the first day of classes, distributing eclipse glasses to thousands of participants.

Scott Gaudi gave a talk on The Hunt for Other Worlds and Life in the Universe in our faculty public lecture series.

CCAPP sponsored Science Sundays lectures by Laura Cadonati on gravitational waves and John Beacom on neutrino astronomy.

The annual Forrest Biard Lecture featured Mike Brown of Caltech, describing the evidence and search for "Planet Nine," which is thought to be 5-10 times the mass of Earth and 20 times more distant than Neptune.

The Department of Astronomy hosted its first Teacher Resource Day for middle school science teachers from central ohio.

Apple's "Off the Charts 2017" list of the most popular courses on iTunesU included Planets to the Cosmos and Life in the Universe , both taught by Professor Richard Pogge.


Highlights from the hundreds of OSU-led science articles of the past year include:

With the recent support of a $2.4M grant from the Moore Foundation, the All-Sky Automated Survey for Supernovae (ASAS-SN) has expanded to become the leading discoverer of bright astronomical transients and the first sensitive nightly record of the optical sky. An unprecedented new tool developed by Chris Kochanek enables any astronomer (or anyone else) to create a "light curve" for any location on the sky using ASAS-SN observations that span many years.

Led by Professor Paul Martini, the Imaging Sciences Laboratory is entering the final phases of its work on spectrographs for Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI), an international project that will create the largest ever maps of the 3-dimensional clustering of galaxies. Martini is the DESI Instrument Scientist, and many OSU faculty, postdocs, and students are contributing to DESI.

The Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) was awarded a $16 million grant from the Alfred P.\ Sloan Foundation to develop SDSS-V , which will measure the chemical "fingerprints" of more than five million stars, with observations starting in 2020. Professor Jennifer Johnson has been named the Program Head for the SDSS-V flagship Milky Way Mapper program. Professor Richard Pogge is leading the design and construction of the robotic fiber positioner that is the crucial new enabling technology for SDSS-V.

You can keep up with news from the Department of Astronomy and CCAPP at and
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May 2018